Summary of Action
written in 1947 by James T. Brewer, Commander
Battle of Cape Esperance - October 11-12, 1942
Source: SLC Memorabilia Collection
1. The Battle of Cape Esperance was a lively night action occurring on 11-12 October 1942. It was fought in total darkness at close ranges for a period of one-half hour during which time an American Cruiser-Destroyer Task Group thoroughly defeated a superior Japanese force of similar components.
2. Task Group 64.2 under Rear Admiral Norman Scott [now deceased] consisted of SAN FRANCISCO [Flagship], SALT LAKE CITY, BOISE, HELENA, BUCHANAN, DUNCAN, FARENHOLT, LAFFEY, and MCCALLA. The Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Pacific Fleet, in his Secret serial 03791 of 26 December 1942 assessed the damage inflicted on the enemy as:
(a) SUNK - Two CA - One of which was the FURUTAKA3. Task Group 64.2 sustained the following damage:
BOISE, seriously damaged
4. The SALT LAKE CITY vitally contributed to the victory by firing 296 - 8" projectiles in 30 salvos obtaining an estimated 150 hits and by providing the only star shell illumination used, by either friend or enemy; expending 150 star shells in so doing. The five inch battery also fired 50 common projectiles at selected targets.
5. The outstanding feature of the battle came in the closing moments when BOISE was observed to be taken under accurate salvo fire by a Japanese heavy cruiser, believed to be the FURUTAKA. The SALT LAKE CITY was then illuminating and firing over the starboard quarter, at moderate range, on a retiring enemy cruiser, believed to be the AOBA. In the heat of action, fire and illumination were checked against the CA and both were resumed in support of the BOISE at 5,000 yards over the starboard bow against the FURUTAKA. The BOISE had to fall out, badly hit. Captain E. G. Small (now deceased) took the SALT LAKE CITY between BOISE and the enemy so that all guns continued to bear. It was then, while silhouetted against the burning BOISE that the SALT LAKE CITY received its most damaging hit, but it was also then that the FURUTAKA fell silent and sank under the ten gun, eight inch salvos of the SALT LAKE CITY. This timely intervention concluded the battle. There were no more enemy targets.
6. All of the material casualties sustained were the result of enemy gunfire. Damage was promptly and effectively localized, including a five hour oil fire in the forward fireroom caused by an 8 inch hit. Engineering and Damage Control parties contributed directly to the splendid ship and fire control performance.
7. Personnel casualties were fortunately light, but where they did take place, no interruption in performance occurred. First aid was rendered promptly. None of the wounded died once having been brought to the Battle Dressing Station.
8. The part SALT LAKE CITY played in this first successful night cruiser action was that of an internally well integrated fighting machine, also well disciplined in Task Group action, which combined to contribute heavily in the support of our own ships and in the complete defeat of the enemy.
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