H.M.A.S. Canberra and the Battle of Savo Island
Mikawa's Progress and Deployment of Allied Naval Forces - 8/9 August
MIKAWA's PROGRESS - 8 AUGUST
At dawn, 5 seaplanes were catapulted from their cruisers - they reported a count of Allied ships at both Tulagi and Guadalcanal, but more importantly, no sign of any carriers. Mikawa decided to proceed through Bougainville Strait and then steam down the slot i.e. the strait between New Georgia Island and St. Isabel island.
After being sighted by the Hudson at 1025 whilst he was NE of Kieta, Mikawa anticipated further Allied air reconnaissance and therefore decided to delay his proposed arrival for a night attack, until about 0130 9 Auqust. Late that afternoon, Mikawa passed to his Captains his intended plan - the force would enter the battle zone S. of Savo, strike at the main force at Guadalcanal, turn N. to strike the Tulagi area and withdraw N of Savo. At 1830, all ships formed a single column on CHOKAI, 1300 yards between ships.
DEPLOYMENT OF ALLIED NAVAL FORCES - 8/9 AUGUST
At sunset, night dispositions were taken up similar to those used the previous night to protect the two transport groups.
X-ray transports still unloading at Guadalcanal
Yoke transports off Tulagi
2 x 6" cruisers SAN JUAN and HOBART with destroyers MONSSEN and BUCHANAN. They were to steam a line 360deg - 180deg between Tulagi and Guadalcanal.
3 x 8" cruisers, AUSTRALIA, CANBERRA and CHICAGO, with destroyers PATTERSON and BAGLEY proceeding on a patrol line 310 - 130 degrees at 12 knots, between the transport area at Guadalcanal and Savo Island. Course reversing on the hour.
3 x 8" cruisers, all American, QUINCY, ASTORIA and VINCENNES, the Senior Captain was in VINCENNES, destroyers WILSON and HELM were their screen. They steamed clockwise on a box patrol at 10 knots 045 - 135 - 225d - 315 degrees, turning 90 degrees on the half hour.
SEAWARD SIDE OF SAVO ISLAND:
A radar, anti-submarine patrol by destroyers BLUE and RALPH TALBOT course 051 - 231 degrees, speed 12 knots.
The stage was set, with the Allied forces seeking to block all seaward passages to the landing areas. Mikawa boldly leading his pack of maraudIng dingoes, soon to set upon the unsuspecting sheep.
I had seen enemy reports at 1900, indicating that there were 2 cruisers, 2 destroyers, aircraft tenders and submarines. As far as I knew, they were not expected to arrive in our area.
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