The difficulties confronting Admiral Callaghan during the night action of 12-13 November are well illustrated by the TBS logs of the Helena and the Portland , which are here reproduced in paraphrased form:
0140 CTF from Helena: Four ships in line in fan-like cruising formation. 0141 CTF from Helena: Range 3,400. CTF from Cushing: Ships ahead on port bow. CTF from Helena: Ten targets in all. CTF from Cushing: Shall I fire torpedoes at them? 0143 Cushing from CTF: Go ahead. Helena from CTF: How about targets to port? CTF from Helena: Affirmative. 0145 Task Force from CTF: Enemy to port and on starboard bow. Stand by to open fire. Atlanta from CTF: What are you doing? CTF from Atlanta: Trying to avoid our DD. Cushing from CTF: What have you got now? Have you come back on course?93 Cushing from Juneau: Two ships starboard, a number to port. CTF from Cushing: Coming back.
(There is a gap in the Helena's TBS log from 0145 to 0154)
0146 CTF to Atlanta: Come back to course. Whole column being thrown into disorder. 0148 Task Force from CTF: Odd ships fire to starboard, even to port. 0151 (About this time the CTF first gave the command, "cease firing, our ships," but it did not get through to the Portland or the Helena.)
0154 All ships from CTF: Hold course 000. All ships from CTF: Cease firing, our ships. CTF from Portland: Authenticate. All ships from CTF: Take 000. 0158 All ships from CTF: Commence firing when ordered. Enemy all sides. BB on starboard bow with DD's. Also other targets. CTF from Portland: What is bearing of BB? CTF from Portland: We're all set. Portland from CTF: Give him hell. Acknowledge. (Apparently the Portland didn't hear this.)
0200 CTF from Helena: Four ships 060. Helena from CTF: Range? All ships from Sterett: Our rudder jammed. Want recognition signals. Sterett from Laffey: Turn on lights 3 seconds. Portland from CTF: How about BB? Have you got him? 0200 CTF from Helena: We've got targets. Can we fire? Helena from CTF: What kind of targets? We want the big fellows. Portland from CTF: Have your got the BB? We have too. Go ahead. Helena from CTF: Fire away. 0207 CTF from Helena: Your course, please. CTF from Helena: Would like your course. 0212 Portland from Helena: Request your course. Any ship from Helena: Can your hear? Helena from Monssen: Affirmative. 0214 Portland, CTF, Juneau, Atlanta from Helena: Course, please. 0217 Portland from Helena: Please answer. 0224 Portland, CTF, Juneau, Atlanta from Helena: Please answer. 0226 All ships from Helena: Form on me, heading for Sealark. 0228 Helena from O'Bannon: Repeat please.
0232 CTF or Helena from Fletcher: Am ahead on your starboard bow. Fletcher from Helena: Please show lights.
93 Apparently CTF had ordered Cushing back to 000°, but this was not recorded aboard the Helena.
Last updated: July 26, 2003Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation