Task Force SUGAR's operational plans were contained in a memorandum issued by Admiral Scott on 9 October, 2 days out of Espiritu Santo.

Provided the horizon was visible, each cruiser was to launch two planes to scout the shore line of Guadalcanal for enemy landing operations, and offshore for supporting forces. The aircraft were to endeavor to maintain contact with the enemy until the approach of the Task Force, then to drop bombs and float-lights to indicate the enemy's position. Planes were to report any information regarding the enemy, even though negative. Flares were not to be used unless expressly ordered by Admiral Scott. Upon the completion of their mission, or in the event that tactical scouting was impossible, the planes were to proceed to Tulagi, fuel at daybreak, and report their readiness to Admiral Scott via the commanding general on Guadalcanal, who would inform them of the point for a rendezvous with Task Force SUGAR. Radio was to be used for essential messages.

Concerning the formation of his surface ships, Admiral Scott specified that the cruisers were to "form DOG,"5 in order to facilitate signals, with the destroyers divided two ahead and two astern of the cruisers. The destroyers were instructed to illuminate targets as soon as possible after radar contacts, to fire torpedoes at large ships and direct shell fire at enemy destroyers and small craft. The heavy cruisers were to use continuous fire against small ships at short range, rather than full gun salvos with long intervals. The third and fourth cruisers in the column (the


Salt Lake City and the Helena) were, with the destroyers, to keep watch on the disengaged flank, and to open fire without orders from Admiral Scott.

The van destroyers were cautioned to observe changes of course by the cruisers should TBS6 fail, and to be alert for turn signals by TBS or blinker. They were specifically warned to keep the TBS adequately manned and the circuit as clear as possible. Emphasizing that Japanese gunfire would quickly follow searchlight illumination, Admiral Scott advised the use of counter-illumination and opening of fire without delay, He added that the danger of silhouetting one's own ship should be borne in mind.

Blinker tubes were to be dimmed, and to show blue or red lights; white lights were to be used only when necessary. TBS silence was to be maintained as long as feasible, although all ships were authorized to use TBS to report contacts.

Ships compelled to fall out of formation should do so on the disengaged flank, and proceed towards Tulagi if unable to make 15 knots. If consistent with the task, a destroyer screen would be provided. All ships were to be ready to tow or be towed. A ship becoming separated from the formation was not to rejoin until after requesting permission, giving bearing of approach in voice code. In the event of failure to rejoin during the engagement, ships would proceed to an agreed 0800 rendezvous.

In conclusion, Admiral Scott stressed the importance of maintaining formation to facilitate identification. All ships were to be alert for challenges, and to show night fighting lights with discretion.


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5 Take formation, column, open order.

6 Voice radio.

Last updated: May 28, 2003

Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation