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Factors that contributed to the debacle off Savo Island.

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare in the Pacific' started by USS Washington, Jun 30, 2015.

  1. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Combined fleet should have the info although you may have to look up each ship or at least each class. If they were refitted the TROMs there may give you the exact date of the refit. In case you don't have the url:
    http://www.combinedfleet.com/kaigun.htm
     
  2. USS Washington

    USS Washington Active Member

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    The other CAs that were present at Savo were equipped with Type 93s:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Furutaka-class_cruiser

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aoba-class_cruiser
     
  3. Sanddoc

    Sanddoc New Member

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    I would say incompetence on officers in the US Navy and Australian Navy.
    Halsey said don't ask what they can do but how they can do it.
    The whole day was a "screw up" sighting from planes were more then not mistaken identifications
    (type of ship, speed of ship, how many ships, time of sighting etc:)
    Having gun crews at station for many hours
    Admiral Crutchley not being in the line and not giving night battle orders.
    BTW Admiral Crutchley was commander of the screening force all 3 section, south, north
    east, which had Admiral Scott.
    I'm not a fan of Turner, how or why he got the job of landing force commander is not
    given, but he often tried to run the Marne's ashore which caused many problems.
    And since Turner was the commander he was ultimately responsible for the defeat.
     
  4. the_diego

    the_diego Active Member

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    Four pages and not one suggestion that the Japanese were just damn good at night fighting with guns and torpedoes.
     
  5. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Why would we say something silly like that?
    The Japanese were not any damn good in the preceding major night action, nor were they any damn good in the next three major night actions.
     
  6. the_diego

    the_diego Active Member

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    Silly? In some ways, I suppose. Cape Esperance was a debacle. The culminating battle? The Japanese won ship-to-ship, although they failed in their mission to shell the airfield. The second battle yeah, they had their asses handed to them. Tassafaronga? Even more embarrassing than Savo. Silly really.
     
  7. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, Esperance was a debacle for the Japanese. First Guadalcanal was little better, the Japanese sank more ships, but lost a battleship to a cruiser & destroyer force - not to good for them. Second Guadalcanal was worse for them, sinking 3 destroyers, but losing another battleship & destroyer in return - not good at all.

    So...If the Japanese were so damn good...Why did the suck so much?

    Because, they were not that damn good.

    Tamaichi Hara, arguably one of the best Japanese destroyer skippers, made 2 costly mistakes at First Guadalcanal - He fired 4 torpedoes at San Francisco too close for them to arm, and kept his guns firing for too long, allowing Amatsukaze to be spotted and shelled by Helena, crippling his destroyer.
     
  8. the_diego

    the_diego Active Member

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    Oh, still sticking to the old formula: end-results-are-what-matter. OK, since results don't convince you of my claim, I have to concede. Spectacular American defeats (let's not call it a spectacular victory by the other side or more people might go crazy) aren't because the other side was damn good. The Americans were just damn stupid.
     
  9. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Well,

    if the Japanese had caught the aircraft carriers and bombed the oil reserves in Pearl Harbor would it not have meant the US Navy would have had to retreat to the American continent? Give me a second opinion? Or would the Japanese have been damn good??
     
  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Winning spectacularly in one battle does not make you "damn good". Especially, when I can name several battles, during the same time frame, where Japanese performance was sub-par at best.

    Pretty much.

    The picket destroyers let a whole Japanese task force slip between them without so much of a challenge. The Chicago's skipper Bode never passed along any word that he was being engaged. A US destroyer torpedoed Canberra - her torpedo hits were on the unengaged side.

    Would you like me to continue...
     
  11. Terry D

    Terry D Well-Known Member

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    I have recently read Hornfleischer's book about the naval campaign of Guadalcanal. I am not an expert on the subject, but the book enthralled me and gave me a lot of new information. It has some stylistic atrocities (Hornfleischer likes to call aggressive officers "warriors," a favorite cliche of our times) but I recommend it otherwise. One of the things which surprised me was the laxness of prewar USN training and the astonishing persistence of prewar attitudes and routines in the navy well after Pearl Harbor and even Midway. The USN did not really grow up and become fully war-minded until Guadalcanal. In that sense, Guadalcanal was to the navy what Tunisia was to the US Army, an education from initial disaster to final success.
     
  12. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It is a better book for a new reader, or one not well read in the Guadalcanal naval nigh actions. Personally, I was disappointed with Neptune's Inferno. I found it to be a couple of new chapters of background - Eric Hammel's book "Guadalcanal : decision at sea : the naval battle of Guadalcanal, November 13-15, 1942"(1988) - A couple of new chapters to wrap up. Needless to say, I was a little miffed at paying full price for a "book", I had already read thoroughly, apparently, Hornfischer used many of the same interviews that Hammel had previously used.

    To be fair, you could probably say this about any branch of service in any nation's navy. "Lessons learned" tend to reinforce previous judgements, rather than open ways to new thought or doctrine. For instance, the IJN conducted a naval exercise, in October, 1940, during which their submarines sank 133 "enemy" merchant ships. Rather than taking away the "lesson" that their ASW was woefully insufficient, Japan took away the "lesson" that their submarines were highly vulnerable to radio direction finding. Another "for instance" was the pre-war belief, held by all navies, that submarines were easily detectable and highly vulnerable - Wartime conditions would quickly prove this to be incorrect. Also, you can look at the development of US carrier operating doctrine and how that changed & evolved from pre-war, to early war, to late war.

    As to "growing up", they learned their lessons.that were applicable at the time. However, war is continuously changing, so lessons that had been learned are sometimes forgotten. Look to "Ching" Lee refusing a night surface action with the Japanese fleet during the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June, 1944. His reasoning was that the advatages of radar were more than offset by difficulties in communications and a lack of training in fleet tactics at night. The fast pace & type of operations had not seen much need for surface or night surface actions. As such, battle practice was primarily focused on anti-aircraft defense. Thus, the lessons learned at Guadalcanal had been quickly forgotten to meet the changing wartime requirements of the fleet.

    More to the point, Guadalcanal was an education for the Navy in night surface actions. The education for aircraft carriers remained ongoing - the tactics & doctrine pertinent to a small carrier fleet did not necessarily correspond to that of a large carrier fleet. The submarine education was also ongoing, a;though many of their lessons would be learned by the end of 1943.
     
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  13. Terry D

    Terry D Well-Known Member

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    Thanks very much for the thoughtful and well-informed reply. As I said at the top, I am far from an expert about the Guadalcanal naval campaign or about naval operations in the Pacific generally. I am much more comfortable and familiar with the ground side of things there, so being relatively new to the naval aspect I do feel that I learned some things from Neptune's Inferno. Learning lessons is of course a perpetual process for any army or navy, and one can never assume that what applies in one campaign will apply in the next campaign. Comparing with Tunisia once again, it does seem to me that the US Army (and the British and French too) learned some tactical, operational, and organizational lessons from the Tunisian experience which applied in Europe as well (though not of course without continued modification). The main lesson learned in Tunisia, I think, was less operational or tactical than attitudinal. Eisenhower was shocked at the peacetime attitudes he encountered among the officers and troops there. Too many, he found, were just not thinking realistically or taking the war seriously enough. If Hornfischer is right (Is he? You obviously know the literature so I gather you would know) the USN had the same problem at Guadalcanal.
     
  14. Thumpalumpacus

    Thumpalumpacus New Member

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    I seem to remember as well that the two American picket destroyers covering the N and NW entrances to Ironbottom hadn't coordinated their sweeps and that they were each at the far end of their patrol legs, providing a gap when the Japanese entered the Sound. I think it was The Ninety Days from Carmichael? I haven't seen that written elsewhere so don't know how true it is. It wasn't really a scholarly book anyway, but the thought seems plausible, if nothing else.

    I think also the fact that Crutchley was not only away, but kept a CA out of the battle by his trip, may have hurt the Allies; but there's no doubt that the Japanese played to their strengths and did almost everything right.

    It was certainly a steep learning curve for the USN that was bought with lives and iron.
     
  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    This is incorrect, the Japanese did not steam through a "gap" as the US destroyers were at opposite ends of their patrol tracks. However, There was a gap between between the patrol tracks, but this should have been easily covered by both visual and radar observation. The USS Blue approached to within one mile of the Japanese cruiser force, and reversed course as she had reached the end of her patrol track - Never spotting the Japanese. This, despite the fact that the Japanese had long since spotted her and had all guns that could bear trained on her. The Japanese had also spotted the other destroyer, Ralph Talbot, some 10 miles distant.

    Maybe, maybe not. The Allies had their cruisers divided, while the Japanese force was concentrated(at least, in the beginning). The Allied cruisers were not expecting action, so their guns were trained "in"(facing forward and aft), as opposed to being trained out(facing possible enemies). Bode's force would have had an extra cruiser, but whether it would have helped or not is debatable, as the second force had 3 cruisers, and they went down without inflicting any appreciable damage on the Japanese. If anything, Australia might...might have passed on a warning to the other Allied cruiser force. But, this is just speculation.

    The Japanese played to their strengths, but they also played to their weaknesses. Mikawa had a healthy respect for carrier air power, and what it could do to cruisers - having experienced that first hand at Midway. He also knew that there were no heavy cruisers under construction, so any cruiser lost would be permanent for the war. Thus, he broke off the action before destroying the American transports, because he did not know the US carriers had pulled back out of range.
     
  16. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..I agree......yes, pre-war and war training are factors --then and now .....if the fire team is trained and capable, then the squad will be---and the platoon--and so on and so on ==same on the ships. = and this deals with many aspects---teamwork training/is the leader familiar with the men and his officers?/communication!!/how well can they even hit their targets? [ ships or infantry ]/etc ....
    --I was in mortars and it takes a lot of things put together to work efficiently and accurately ==sure, almost all the units can get the rounds off--but in how much time and how accurately?
    = so, the squads train on the mortars-the HQ trains on the fire control-then they train together for it all to work -then the companies train together for the battalion to work-- same with ships.....
    ....and I totally agree with the '''war-minded'''/'''war minded training''' idea being a factor--maybe not a big factor, but a factor
    ...I thought Burke did ''much'' training and instituted ''new''' concepts after 1942....and they did ''well'' in the upper Solomons.....?

    bold for emphasis only
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2021 at 8:13 AM
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  17. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ...like I stated, it takes a lot to come together for ships to work efficiently and accurately .
    1. they are constantly moving/trying to get into a favorable position--very telling in the First Guadalcanal Naval Battle--a very close quarters battle for ships
    2. communication--this was very telling in the First Guadalcanal Naval Battle ....much confusion/etc
    3. where is the enemy and how many? what are all the friendly ships going to to? where to go?
    ....plain and simple--combat is very confusing/dynamic!/etc = there will be problems
     

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