St. Louis turrets firing
2nd Battle of Kula Gulf
USN vs. the Japs
Task Force 18: Cruisers: ST. LOUIS, HELENA, and HONOLULU
Destroyers: O’BANNON, JENKINS, RADFORD, and NICHOLAS
Jap Force Composition: Unknown Cruisers and Destroyers
Date: July 6, 1943 Time 0157 Commenced
2130 Now on lower end of N. Georgia Island. we are steaming at 28 knots
and PBY "Blackcats" are scouting for the Japs for us.
0000 Sounded general quarters.
0145 Surface contact 17,000 Yards, on starboard bow
ST. LOUIS opens fire
with six inch main battery
0144 A large target.
0200 Explosion observed on target.
0201 Cease fire.
0202 Shifted targets during lull
0205 Standby to reverse course
0204 Fires can be seen on several targets.
0205 St. Louis now in lead, followed by HELENA, then HONOLULU .
0206 Torpedo wake astern
0207 Torpedo wake off starboard bow.
0208 Torpedo supposedly passed under us about Turret No. 3.
0209 Commence firing again
0210 First salvo is direct hit.
0211 One enemy ship blew up
0212 Shifted targets again.
0214 Cease fire and standby for another run
0215 Target speed is now zero
0218 HELENA opens fire off port beam
0219 30 rounds per turret left
0220 Another enemy ship has blown up.
0221 Commence firing again.
0222 Cease fire.
0223 Directors 1 and 2 have lost target, they think it has sunk
0224 HELENA and HONOLULU still firing, but we can’t find any more targets
0229 Another target on screen
0230 Jap ship Burning on our starboard side.
0232 Surface target, 17,000 yards, bearing 332 degrees relative.
0233 Several underwater explosions felt
0237 100 rounds of Powder left between Turrets 4 and 5.
0240 Target at 12, 000 yards open Fide with Star Shells.
0242 One of ours Destroyers is firing off our starboard Bow.
0245 Still Making 25 knots. Course is 232 degrees
0248 Unidentified target at 5000 yards off starboard Beam
0249 Radar No Six out of Commission
0251 Admiral Ainsworth orders Cease Fire.
0252 Heavy Underwater explosion Felt
0253 No more targets Available
0254 Speed now 28 knots. Course 290.
0255 HELENA is Dropping Back
0308 Heavy underwater explosion felt
0313 Two of our Tin "Cans" are being sent into the harbor
to look for ships.
Can’t locate the HELENA .......
0319 Surface contact on screen off port Bow at 5000 Yards.
0323 Bow of a ship has been sighted, sticking straight up out of
the water. It May be the HELENA.
0324 Standby to illuminate with searchlights, to look for the HELENA.
0326 HONOLULU is illuminating with searchlights now.
0327 Fifteen miles from N. Georgia Island.
0330 Searchlights have picked up object in water and report states
"Sorry to report object sighted is
0331 Standby for 28 knots
0332 RADFORD is investigating what is believed to be the wreck of the
0333 It is HELENA, she is believed to have been sunk by torpedoes
0334 No survivors picked up yet HELENA is thought to have sunk at 0308,
when last large underwater explosion was felt.
0335 RADFORD and JENKINS standing by to pickup HELENA survivors.
Start ofduring action with enemy
0340 Speed now 28.5 knots.
0341 Destroyers report they are now in midst of survivors.
0345 Now retiring to Tulagi at 28 knots all ships in Jap task Force are
0348 Target Dead Ahead, and planes reported five miles astern.
0350 The "Cans" report they have picked up 400 survivors so far
0402 RADFORD reports a large ship 13,000 yards off her bow
0406 RADFORD is being attacked while picking up survivors stand by to
make 180 degree turn to go back to protect the RADFORD.
0411 Two large ships coming out of Kula Gulf
0412 NICHOLAS is still picking up survivors both of the enemy ships have
Opened Fire, and RADFORD seems to be in trouble.
0415 NICHOLAS has engaged the two ships and is launching a torpedo attack
against them. we are closing slowly but are still to far away to help.
0417 The two ships are running, like I wish we would.
0432 Jap ships can’t be found so we are once again heading for Tulagi.
0445 All stations rest easy, RADFORD and JENKINS are still picking up
0515 Destroyers report they are finishing off the HELENA
0642 Light Ship.
0645 The screening "Cans" report O’BANNON has expended all
but five Torpedoes, and NICHOLAS has expended all hers.
0700 Ninety friendly planes in the vicinity.
0730 RADFORD and JENKINS report that survivors were scattered and it took
some time to get them on board.
0800 In the last 140 days we have expended 175 tons of ammo., 81,000
Gallons of Fuel Oil, firing 1100 rounds six inch, or forty three salvos of
fifteen six Incher's
0830 Twenty enemy planes over Kula Gulf, headed this way.
0900 Thirty unidentified aircraft picked up on radar.
1027 RADFORD and JENKINS are now heavily covered by our aircraft.
1030 Passed two Destroyers dispatched to pick up remaining survivors.
1130 Dropped anchor in Tulagi Harbor.
1230 RADFORD and JENKINS coming in. JENKINS transfers over 300 men to
HONOLULU and RADFORD transfers 438 men to St . Louis
1630 Underway for ESPIRITU with five "Cans" pass Task Force 19
which is probably headed for Munda.
July 7 At 0830, 78 more survivors were picked up on east side of Kula
Gulf. also picked up the Radford's and JENKINS Whaleboat Crews.
July 8 Tank Force 18 arrived in port At 0800, and received quite a hand.
A Diving inspection reveals two or three dents in our hull from torpedoes
which never exploded. Thank God
July 9 Relaxed on Aore Island with Beer and Artie Shaw 's band etc.
July 10 Task Force 18 underway Early
July 11 Passed through Skylark Channel at about 1600 , and was joined By
the LEANDER. As we went through between Savo and Tulagi or Florida Island,
headed up the Slot, Task Force 19 went between Savo and Guadalcanal headed
toward Rendova on Till," Munda Side. We are Sill Looking for Japs, and
they will bombard Munda.
2320 Star Shells on port bow
2335 Flare on port beam.
2339 Flashes of Gunfire can be seen on the other side of New Georgia
2342 Two planes sixteen miles away.
2343 Target on horizon bearing 060 degrees.
2357 Main battery train to starboard on probable air target.
July 12 At 0015 enemy plane approaching again
0026 Mt. No. 4 on single plane.
0040 Destroyer on Stbd. Qtr. signaling lots of "Bogies".
0042 Another target at 16,000 Yards
0043 Our transports entering Kula Gulf
0048 One plane 290 degrees four lights blinking low on water.
0055 Sky Control on plane at 020 degrees.
0110 Two floating lights close By.
0130 Reversed course now in vicinity of Kula Gulf Battle, will patrol
this area until 0300.
0300 Now retiring Towards Tulagi. T.F. 19 is now bombarding Munda
0330 More gunfire across island.
1130 Anchored and refueled in Tulagi.
1710 Underway up the "Alley" again. We are going to see if
we can meet the Japs again tonight.
1945 Set Condition II
1955 Condition "Red" over Russell Islands.
2000 RUSSELL Islands under air attack. Witnessed the AA Fire, and a
"Dog Fight" by the planes . Tracer fire and 5" bursts is
all you can see. A plane went down in flames.
Battle of Kolombangara or Second Kula Gulf.
Cruisers: HONOLULU , ST. LOUIS, and LEANDER
Destroyers: O’BANNON, NICHOLAS, RADFORD , JENKINS, TAYLOR, GWIN, FARENHOLT,
MAURY, BUCHANAN and the RALPH TALBOT. (Task Force 18 plus Others from the task
Time: 0109 Date: July 13, 1943
0042 Surface contact of six ships at 40,000 yards one "Cruiser"
and "five" Cans
0102 Radar Data: range 22,000, speed 16 Knots.
0105 Enemy ships now in sight off port bow
0106 Range on four Stack Cruiser 20,000 Yards, Bearing 030 degrees.
0109 Our Destroyers now launching torpedo attacks
0111 Open fire to starboard
0112 Enemy Cruiser returning fire and using searchlights.
0113 Enemy searchlight knocked out.
0114 Enemy ship exploded. several fires on Jap ships
0115 Ship on fire off starboard bow.
0117 Heavy underwater explosion felt.
0118 Reverse course 180 degrees
0119 One more target left at 10,000 yards dead ahead.
0120 Open fire on port. Enemy ship returning fire
0122 Target range 12,000 Yards.
0123 Heavy under water explosion felt.
0124 Target speed now one and one half knots .
0125 HONOLULU has shifted to rapid fire:
0127 All radar out of commission.
0128 No 1 radar back in commission.
0129 Cease fire
0134 LEANDER has received Torpedo hit forward, destroyers standing by
0138 Radar No. 2 back in commission.
0140 Our course 000 degrees, speed 27 Knots.
0141 Our Tin "Cans" are all illuminating the remaining Jap
0145 Enemy ship still firing back.
0146 Target speed now zero.
0147 LEANDER now seems to be dead in the water
0149 Three new targets, bearing 310 degrees, 11,000 Yards
0150 LEANDER reports she can make 10 knots.
0155 Heavy underwater explosion and a jarring felt.
0l56 ST. LOUIS has taken a Torpedo up forward
0159 Course 330 degrees
0202 HONOLULU has contact at 14,000 Yards.
0205 HONOLULU opens fire off port bow. HONOLULU has taken a torpedo hit
0209 The Torpedo hit us at Frame 11.
0212 Torpedo wake off starboard quarter.
0223 Our speed now 7 knots.
0234 HONOLULU making same speed as ST. LOUIS.
0235 ST. LOUIS down by head two Feet.
0300 Speed now 16 Knots.
0325 Surface target on Screen, 315 degrees , at 9000 Yards.
0328 Air contact , 175 degrees, 7 miles
0400 Report from bridge that all three cruisers have been hit. GWIN and
BUCHANAN have been damaged, and Ralph Talbot is towing GWIN.
0435 Tug being sent for LEANDER
0525 At this speed ,16 knots we will make Tulagi at 1600
0538 Unidentified planes closing in
0600 Reports say we sank all targets one cruiser and five destroyers.
0604 Planes coming in at 295 degrees
0615 Planes are ours nine groups reported forty miles away.
0700 Several pieces of the Torpedo have been found on the ship, one
weighting about forty pounds
0715 Set Condition II, LEANDER and "Cans" out of sight.
1500 Observed T.F. 19 headed for New Georgia Island.
1600 Moored to piling along beach in Tulagi Harbor.
July 14 Underway for ESPIRITU at 0600. speed almost 13 knots. Escorting
"Cans" are WOODWORTH, FARENHOLT, BUCHANAN and Ralph Talbot had air
and Submarine Emergency. Got sub, maybe.
July 16 Arrived in ESPIRITU Santo, and moored along side the Vestal.
Unloaded fuel and ammo. Ship is damaged back to Frame 23. Vestal will do
repair work as far as practicable, as the New Dry Dock is not yet ready for
work. Our bow is welded closed .
July 28 Captain Campbell received the Navy Cross, for the first Battle of
Kula Gulf, from task Force Commander, Adm. Ainsworth. .Adm. Ainsworth
received one a few days ago From Admiral Halley. Shifted Berth from Vestal
Aug. 1 Underway for the States At 0800, with the Chenango, a
converted Carrier, a tanker (No 73) and three old Cans. Our speed is
fifteen knots we have the Flag Personnel and transfers Aboard.
Aug. 3 Crossed International Date Meridian, which will
cause us to have two Tuesdays this Week.
Aug. 4 The carrier refueled the three "Cans".
Aug. 7 Crossed the Equator at 0400 at the 161 Long.
Aug. 8 Refueled from the Chenango at 0900. At 1700 left the Chenango
and one "CAN"and headed for Pearl Harbor.
Aug. 10 The MILOMI has engine trouble and is left behind. now
Only the ST. LOUIS and the Hopkins Proceed Northeast at 15 Knots.
Aug. 12 Refueled the Hopkins and Gave her Supplies.
Aug. 13 Same two Ships, course Northeast, speed 13 Knots.
Aug. 17 Arrived in San Francisco.