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Noted for December 1, 2012

Liveblogging World War II: December 1, 1942

CA U.S.S. New Orleans:

30th November 1942 The Battle of Tassafaronga off Guadalcanal 1

The Battle of Tassafaronga:

The plan was for Japanese fast destroyers to deliver… [a supply] drop on the night of the 30th November…. [T]he US Navy despatched Task Force 67 to intercept. The US ships should have been well placed to effect an ambush as they had the significant advantage of Radar on a proportion of their ships. The US ships did identify the Japanese force by Radar and launched 24 torpedoes at them. If most, or even any, of the 24 torpedoes had hit their targets the subsequent controversies about the Battle of Tassafaronga would probably have never emerged. Unfortunately they did not. The US Navy had yet to recognise that their Mark 15 torpedoes used from ships, like their Mark 14 torpedoes on submarines, were not effective…. So in this action when the Japanese realised they were under attack they were able to swiftly respond. Their Long Lance torpedoes were very effective and did terrible damage to the US ships….

Herbert Brown, a seaman on USS New Orleans described the scene after the torpedo hit:

I had to see. I walked alongside the silent turret two and was stopped by a lifeline stretched from the outboard port lifeline to the side of the turret. Thank God it was there, for one more step and I would have pitched head first into the dark water thirty feet below. The bow was gone. One hundred and twenty five feet of ship and number one main battery turret with three 8 inch guns were gone. Eighteen hundred tons of ship were gone. Oh my God, all those guys I went through boot camp with – all gone.

The Battle did, however, prove to be a turning point. Despite the damage done to the US ships the Japanese were still unable to complete the resupply mission. Subsequent attempts to drop resupply loads in the water were shot up by the US planes from Guadalcanal. Soon the Japanese had to recognise that their attempt to dislodge the US forces from Guadalcanal had failed and they would have to withdraw.