H.M.A.S. Canberra and the Battle of Savo Island
Savo Fleet night dispositions - 7/8 August
At sunset on 7 August, the following night dispositions were taken up. The objective: to deny access for any Japanese Surface Force seeking to reach the transport areas.
SATURDAY 8 AUGUST
HUDSON RECONNAISSANCE FLIGHTS 8 AUGUST
On landing at Fall River, the pilot was immediately de-briefed - through unexplained delays, this enemy report did not reach the fleet at Guadalcanal until about sunset that evening. Morison, the American Naval Historian wrote in 1959 "This Hudson Pilot did not break radio silence, completed his search in the afternoon, arrived at Fall River, had his tea and then made his report". In 1983, Hoyt in "Guadalcanal" and again as late as 1987, Larrabee in "Commander-in-Chief" still perpetuated this myth about Stutt having tea before de-briefing.
They all apportioned blame to both Stutt and his RAAF crew over the sighting of Mikawa's striking force. Morison initially and others slavishly followed in his footsteps, without bothering to check that his original statements were in fact, incorrect. Gill, In his 1968 "Royal Australian Navy 1942-45" takes Morison to task for his unwarranted criticism. So much for research!
Just after 1100, a second Fall River Hudson also sighted Mikawa and his ships and was fired upon. The enemy report sent after landing at Fall River indicated the sighting of 2 heavy cruisers, 2 light cruisers and a small unidentified vessel. Again there was much delay before Turner was appraised of this report, during the evening of 8 August. These reports which included the sighting of 2 seaplane tenders confounded the issue. MacArthur believed the force was probably moving to the Shortlands, south of Bougainvillle, to establish a base there; whilst Turner believed the force was escorting a seaplane group that was moving to Rekata Bay on St. Isabel Island.
The group was reported heading 120deg, which would take them there and, on the morning of 7 August, an aircraft from the US carrier WASP had destroyed a Japanese seaplane just north of Rokata Bay. All the delays prevented mounting air attacks against the Japanese force that day. All in all, this force was not considered to be moving against the Invasion fleet. It was considered that the threat to the Allied force was from submarines and not from surface forces.