Down the “Slot”—that fabled channel between chains of islands in the Solomon group—steamed the task force of Admiral Gunichi Mikawa, Japanese Imperial Navy.
His target: the Allied cruiser group gathered off Savo Island, near Guadalcanal.
Three thousand Japanese guns were pointed at the destroyer Blue, on interception duty at the head of the Allied column. But no one aboard Blue noticed the enemy force churning past—so Blue roused no enemy fire.
Not so lucky were the cruisers Quincy, Vincennes, Canberra and Astoria. This exciting factual book details the incredible confusion and horror that made the Battle of Savo a low point in American naval history.
An American Naval Tragedy
So shocking was the defeat of American naval forces by the Japanese in Savo Sound, that the American public could not accept the true story until ten years afterward.
On Guadalcanal, Marines were moving up the rugged Tenaru River country, ranging for battle and depending on the Navy for cover.
On board the flagship McCawley, Admiral Turner was begging for carrier-based air support that never came.
On the flag bridge of his heavy cruiser, Chokai, Admiral Gunichi Mikawa signalled the torpedo fire that opened “The Battle of Savo”.
The book refutes the widely-held notion that the attack on Pearl Harbor suddenly rendered surface combatants obsolete and that aviation and submarines dominated the Pacific War; it demonstrates that the battleships, cruisers and destroyers made major contributions to America’s victory and played decisive roles at critical junctures.
The U.S. Navy against the Axis offers a cautionary parable relevant to today’s Navy. It demonstrates how swift adaptability and intellectual honesty were fundamental to the Navy’s success against Japan. The book’s underlying premises is that we cannot assume that in a conflict against conventional or asymmetric enemies, the nation holds title to the same virtues demonstrated by the Navy three generations past. Instead those lessons need to be constantly studied and validated in the face of postwar mythologies, lest they be forgotten.
Ken Jones not only records their heroic deeds but helps explain what prompted those deeds, including the leadership qualities that fired the men into action. In doing so he brings to life the outfit's fighting spirit--that mysterious combination of qualities inspired by great leaders that wins battles--and the man who led them. Commodore Arleigh Burke was the right man at the right place at the right time; his leadership fused the squadron into a superb combat organization.
This book offers a vivid account of the fighting in the South Pacific during one of the most crucial periods of the war. In authentic, minute-by-minute detail drawn from once-secret documents, Jones describes the battles of Tassafaronga, Savo Island, Empress Augusta Bay, and Cape St. George. But the focus throughout is on the men as they meet the test of battle with a common bravery as staunch as any in the Navy's annals. No squadron in any navy is said to have won more battle honors in less time than the Fighting Twenty-third.
DECISION AT SEA
The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea is a full-blown examination in vivid detail of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13–15, 1942, a crucial step toward America’s victory over the Japanese during World War II.
The three‑day air and naval action incorporated America’s most decisive surface battle of the war and the only naval battle of this century in which American battleships directly confronted and mortally wounded an enemy battleship. This American victory decided the future course of the naval war in the Pacific, indeed of the entire Pacific War. Eric Hammel has brilliantly blended the detailed historical records with personal accounts of many of the officers and enlisted men involved, creating an engrossing narrative of the strategy and struggle as seen by both sides. He has also included major new insights into crucial details of the battles, including a riveting account of the American forces’ failure to effectively use their radar advantage.
Originally published in 1988 as the concluding volume in Eric Hammel’s series of three independent books focusing on the Guadalcanal campaign and exploring all the elements that made it a turning point of the war in the Pacific, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea lives up to the high standards and expectations that have marked this author’s many historical books and articles.
Praise for Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea and Eric Hammel
“Hammel’s description of surface tactics, naval gunnery, and what happens when the order to abandon ship is given is vivid and memorable.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Hammel’s] detailed and fast-paced chronicle includes a number of incidents and anecdotes not found in the more prosaic official histories.” —Sea Power
Commander Frederick Bell recounts his wartime experiences on the USS G (Grayson) during the Pacific War.
“CONDITION RED” was an expression that we used to indicate the imminence of any type of engagement. Aboard the G it was a colloquialism that served to express the conviction that the next few hours or days or weeks were going to be packed with action. We first heard it soon after we arrived in the Solomons, where the term was used on Guadalcanal and Tulagi to indicate the approach of the enemy, and when our voice radio blared out the words we went to General Quarters and prepared to greet the Tokyo Express or the Zeros and Mitsubishis when they came within view.
Little has been written of the part that our destroyers are playing in the Pacific War, where they are called upon to fulfil such a variety of missions that they have become multipurpose ships, engaging in any form of combat. Because we lacked suitable escort ships we used destroyers to protect convoys as well as to guard our combatant Task Forces. We used them to bombard enemy shore positions and to carry bombs and aviation gasoline and stores to Guadalcanal during the lean weeks early in our campaign in those far-distant seas.
By nature as well as by name, the purpose of the destroyer is wholly offensive. Bantamweights in comparison with the great battlewagons, they pack a punch out of all proportion to their size. They are triple-threat weapons, built to strike at any enemy on or over or under the sea. In the words of Rear Admiral Tisdale, “They are the fightingest thing afloat.”