Our forces retired southward throughout the night of the 24th, and at 0800 on the 25th made a fueling rendezvous with the oilers Cimarron and Platte in latitude 13°04' S., longitude 164°03'30" E. At this point the Enterprise, with the Portland, Balch, Maury, Benham, and Ellet as escort, was detached and proceeded via Tongatabu to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
The remainder of Task Force KING--North Carolina, Atlanta, Grayson, and Monssen--was combined with Task Force FOX and returned to the north the same evening to join forces with the Wasp group.
At 1143, when the Grayson had made visual contact with Task Force FOX on returning from her search for survivors of air action, she sighted a Japanese submarine several miles to the west of our formation. Establishing sound contact at 1216, the destroyer began a depth-charge attack, later being assisted by the Patterson12 and Monssen. The submarine was sunk.
Two other Japanese submarines were sighted during the day. One of them was sunk by a direct bomb hit scored by Ens. Estes of VS-5 at 0950 in latitude 12°30' S., longitude 164°10' E.
We had every expectation that the carrier action would be rejoined on the 25th, but such was not the case. The Wasp group took up station southeastward of Guadalcanal, but made no contact with the enemy.
Guadalcanal expected a dawn air attack, but none came. Just before dawn eight dive bombers with fighter escort left Henderson Field to search for enemy carriers. At 0835, about 125 miles to the north, this group came upon an occupation force of one large and three small transports, supported by a heavy cruiser, light cruisers, and four destroyers. They hit both the large (14,000-ton) transport and the heavy cruiser with 1,000-pound bombs. The transport was gutted and doubtless destroyed.
A force of eight Army B-17's, which took off from Espiritu Santo at 0617 for the purpose of attacking carriers, also came upon the occupation force already bombed by the Marine group. At 1015 they released their bombs, hitting one cruiser or destroyer, with the result that "it broke in two." Another cruiser was observed to be burning. This may have been the one hit earlier by the Marines.
Our search planes made numerous contacts with scattered enemy forces during the day. As was the case at Midway, several groups of enemy ships continued to close their objective after their air strength had been crippled. By noon, however, it became obvious that the Japanese ships all had turned tail, and were retiring at high speed.
The last Japanese blow was struck at noon when 21 heavy bombers dropped bombs on Guadalcanal from 27,000 feet, killing four men and wounding five, but doing little material damage.
"The Japanese had shot their bolt," CINCPAC reported, "and with air forces seriously reduced were retiring."
12 The Patterson joined after the carrier action.
Last updated: May 3, 2003Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation