Sjöslag 14 Nov. 1942


During the evening of 14 Nov 1942, a Japanese fleet consisted of battleship Kirishima, heavy cruiser Atago, heavy cruiser Takao, light cruisers, and destroyers was detected by submarine Trout. Battleships South Dakota and Washington opened fire on light cruiser Sendai at 2317, but at 2333 South Dakota ran into electrical problems which put much of her electronics out of commission, depriving the Americans the use of her radar. He ordered South Dakota to go around the sinking destroyers to shield them from some fire, meanwhile allowing her to fire a few more rounds of broadside fire on Sendai before retiring. At 2348, South Dakota completed this maneuver, and turned starboard again to exit the battle, only to find that she was ambushed by another Japanese group, which she had not detected because of the lack of radar. 34 torpedoes were fired from the ambushing ships at 2355, but all of them missed. The torpedoes were followed by a hail of gunfire from battleships Kirishima, Atago, and Takao. Battleship Washington moved close to support by firing on Kirishima, but the Japanese ships were determined to destroy South Dakota first and refused to be distracted. Washington fired 75 16-inch shells at Kirishima, scoring 9; there were 40 hits by the smaller 5-inch shells, too. Kirishima quickly became a burning wreck by 0012. South Dakota, by this point, fared only a little better; almost everything on the topside was destroyed after being hit by 42 shells, leaving her without any capability for communications. Luckily for South Dakota, the Japanese fleet retired.
- C. Peter Chen
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