I'm quite knowledgeable of the battle. Maybe I could be of assistance or maybe just start a conversation. My favorite ship of the whole battle is HMAS Canberra. She was a great ship. Aestetically pleasing the 3 funnels and even placement of the 4 8" gun turrets.
I am digging through my books trying to find Ballards,"Ships of the Iron Bottom Sound."
Michael and Joshua, I will form a question and would love to open a discussion of the topic.
Give me a moment......
Yes, the bar room brawl!
That must have been something to endure.
Certain parts of the Pacific theater did not grab the headlines and this seems to be one.
Not unlike the Empress of Ireland at the onset of WWI.
Ballard did a fine job exploring this graveyard, and being a former Navy man, I find it endearing.
The lack of interest in the Empress directly ties to what was going on at the time. The war was only a few months away and attention was on Europe. I love the news reports of the Pacific. They were so many mis-stories. Each side reported the same ship sunk by its side about every 2 weeks. Nobody really new what was going on. The Japs thought they sunk the Houston several times. Thats why they called here the coast of the Java Coast. Josh
Back in 1998 I did some diving in the Solomon Islands, around Guadalcanal sites. It's a minor point considering all the human misery caused by recent political events in the Solomons, but I've personally had cause to regret the turmoil that has, since I was there, made this a place to visit with caution. I would very much like to return, as I consider this among the best - and possibly the best - diving in the world (and I've been to sites like Palau and Yap in Micronesia, Flinders Cay and sites in the Great Barrier Reef, and Brother Islands in the Red Sea).
We weren't focused on the wrecks of Iron Bottom sound as this wasn't so much a 'wreckies' dive trip, but it would be hard to spent 10 days on a dive liveaboard in the Solomons and not visit some sites connected with WWII.
One of these was the Hirokawa Maru, now know as 'Bonegi I', a Japanese transport with an overall length of 508 feet that now lies on a fringing reef slope at 10-180 ft. depths. She was beached after being hit by US bombers. A very attractive dive, as she gently slopes down to a decent depth, enabling you to start deep and then gradually come up to a very shallow coral garden at a good depth for a safety stop before surfacing.
We also dived the site of a WWII Japanese landing stage on Ghavutu Island which, along with the islet of Tanambogo, was where American troops encountered the only Japanese resistance during the initial landings to recapture the islands. These were shallow afternoon and then night dives to do some off-gassing after days of multiple deep dives. I recall seeing a lot of interesting bits and pieces, even the wing of a plane, scattered among the pylons. What intrigued me, however, were the number of banded gobies and their attendant shrimp (they have a symbiotic relationship). There were also a lot of very entertaining cleaner shrimp, which are always fun to play with.
Why did everything go so terribly wrong at Savo Island?
Japanese Adml.Mikawa was spotted heading for Guadalcanal by an Aussie air patrol but the American command did not receive it for 8 hours.
The lack of communication between the groups covering the area was poor and it seems that those in charge very complacent concerning the Japanese.
Canberra, Astoria, Quincy and Vincennes never had a chance!
It's a good thing Mikawa made the mistake of withdrawing, he would have easliy regained the Soloman airfields if he had persisted in the attack.
One of the major problems the US ships had at the time was the ship to ship radios. As soon as the Japs started firing all hell broke lose. The problem with the radios was that when one ship wanted to talk to another all the other ships on the same frequency had to shut up. So messages and reports were easily garbled. The US cruisers were completly disoriented in the battle. The ships had no clue as to who was friend or foe except the Japs. Josh
There is even the possibility that ' Canberra ' was torpedoed by an American destroyer... it is a very contentious issue, much discussed on the Warships1 boards ...but is perhaps indicative of the confused nature of the whole action. The Japanes Navy had spent many years honing it's night - fighting capabilities and co-ordination... as well as being equipped with the deadly 24" ' Long-Lance ' torpedo. The US had actually removed torpedo tubes from its cruisers - not without good reason since they could be dangerous to the ship on which they were mounted - and was over-reliant on radar.
Radar tells you that there is a ship there ... it does not tell you who's side it's on...
The Japanese had a very good idea who was where.
There scout planes went unchecked by the U.S. forces the night before. Canberra was well lit by Japanese flares and had no real chance. The "brawl" was so swift to begin, the chance does remain that freindly fire might have caused the sinking of some of our wagons.