History's last true Naval Gunnery battle.

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
JustinT
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History's last true Naval Gunnery battle.

Post by JustinT » Tue Dec 11, 2007 5:00 am

I havent seen it meantioned, sorry if it has, but i thought id put up a topic about "The Battle of the Komandorski Islands". heres what wiki has to say about it -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_ ... ki_Islands

The Battle of the Komandorski Islands was one of the most unusual engagements of World War II. It was a naval battle which took place on 27 March 1943 in the North Pacific area of the Pacific Ocean, near the Komandorski Islands.

When the United States became aware of Japanese plans to send a supply convoy to garrisons on the Aleutian Islands, U.S. Navy ships commanded by Rear Admiral Charles McMorris were dispatched to intercept. The U.S. fleet consisted of the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City, the old light cruiser Richmond and the destroyers Coghlan, Bailey, Dale and Monaghan.

Unknown to the Americans, the Japanese had chosen to escort their convoy with two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and four destroyers commanded by Vice Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya. On the morning of 27 March, the Japanese convoy was intercepted by the U.S. picket line and combat ensued. Because of the remote location of the battle and chance encounter on open ocean, neither fleet had air or submarine assistance, making this the only engagement exclusively between surface ships in the Pacific Theatre, and the last pure gunnery duel in naval history.


Mistakenly believing that the fight would be easy, the American warships formed up and closed the range. Two transports fled for safety as the Japanese warships turned to engage. The American group was outgunned and outnumbered but pressed on and made a course change in hopes of getting a shot at the transports before their escorts could intervene. There was also a possibility that the Japanese would split their force and that Salt Lake City and Richmond could tackle a portion of them on more equal terms.

The opposing cruisers simultaneously opened fire at a range of nearly ten miles (18 km). The ensuing battle was a retiring action on the part of the Americans since the Japanese foiled their attempt to get to the auxiliaries. Salt Lake City received most of the attention and soon received two hits, one of them amidships, mortally wounding two men, but she responded with very accurate fire. Her rudder stops were carried away, limiting her to 10 degree course changes. Another hit flooded forward compartments. Under cover of a thick smoke screen and aggressive torpedo attacks by the destroyers, the American cruisers were able to make an evasive turn, which for a while allowed the range to open. Salt Lake City soon began taking hits again, and her boiler fires died one by one. Salt water had entered the fuel oil feed lines. There was now cause for grave concern; she lay dead in the water, and the Japanese ships were closing fast. However, she was hidden in the smoke, and the enemy was not aware of her plight.

The destroyers charged the Japanese cruisers and began to draw the fire away from the cruiser. They took extreme punishment before launching a spread of torpedoes. In the meantime, Salt Lake City engineers purged the fuel lines and fired the boilers. With fresh oil supplying the fires, she built up steam and gained headway. Suddenly, the Japanese began to withdraw, because they were fast exhausting their ammunition. They did not suspect that the Americans were in far worse shape in terms of both ammunition and fuel.

[edit] Outcome

Although the Japanese force outnumbered the U.S. group by two to one, the engagement was tactically inconclusive. Both sides suffered damage, with the U.S. force not being as badly hurt by the superior firepower of the Japanese as could have been the case. When the Japanese force was poised for victory, Admiral Hosogaya—not realizing the heavy damage his ships had inflicted on Salt Lake City, and fearing American air forces were en route—chose to retire without delivering a knockout blow. Withdrawal led to a strategic defeat for the Japanese because it ended their attempts to resupply their Aleutian garrisons by surface, leaving only submarines for resupply runs.

Hosogaya was retired from service after the battle.

(copied from wikipedia for ease of read)

Myself, i originally learned about the battle from the book series "The Forgotten War" - a four book set set on the war in the Aluetian Islands, and found it an exceptional read overall and highly informative. I think it also exemplifies something ive seen a lot of comments here in regards to numbers, strengths, etc - but in the end, once the shells start flying, its in the hands of fates, gods, whatever deity or overall controlling beings or sentiments one wishes to insert, it boils down to chance and luck. in this paticular battle, fate and fortune smiled for the American naval forces overall, as while the battle was a draw, strategicly a victory could be claimed by them as the overal objective was accomplshed.

Any comments or thoughts?

Tiornu
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Re: History's last true Naval Gunnery battle.

Post by Tiornu » Tue Dec 11, 2007 6:40 am

It's an interesting little skirmish. However, I don't know how it qualifies as the last pure gunnery battle.
There is a book focusing on this battle. I can't recall the title, though I suspect a search at Amazon for Komandorski would find it. Morison covers the battle, though misidentifying the marus as armed merchant cruisers. Dull gives it a couple pages.

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Karl Heidenreich
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Post by Karl Heidenreich » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:51 pm

JustinT:

Thanks for the story. I have always wonder which could be called the "last clasical naval battle", meaning by clasical, gunnery.

Best regards.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

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MJQ
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Re: History's last true Naval Gunnery battle.

Post by MJQ » Thu Jan 03, 2008 6:28 pm

Tiornu wrote:It's an interesting little skirmish. However, I don't know how it qualifies as the last pure gunnery battle.
There is a book focusing on this battle. I can't recall the title, though I suspect a search at Amazon for Komandorski would find it. Morison covers the battle, though misidentifying the marus as armed merchant cruisers. Dull gives it a couple pages.
There is a book titled "Battle of the Komandorski Islands". Pretty good read. The Salt Lake City was definitely a charmed ship that day.
Martin

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Bluemill
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Battle of North Cape?

Post by Bluemill » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:14 am

Wasn't the valiant end of the Sharnhorst after this? Like December 26, 1943? I think I'm correct on this.

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Bluemill
"Bismarck, massive and elegant, with the high flare of her bows and majestic sweep of her lines, her ease and arrogance in the water, was then the most graceful, most powerful warship yet built."
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Tiornu
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Re: Battle of North Cape?

Post by Tiornu » Fri Jan 25, 2008 12:40 am

There were several battles after this. That's why I don't understand how this rates as the last.

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Bluemill
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Last great surface actions.........

Post by Bluemill » Fri Jan 25, 2008 6:59 pm

Yes you are correct. From the German point of view the Scharnhorst's
final battle was the last. Leyte Gulf /Phillipene Sea are probably the last where surface ships slugged it out.

Best,

Bluemill
"Bismarck, massive and elegant, with the high flare of her bows and majestic sweep of her lines, her ease and arrogance in the water, was then the most graceful, most powerful warship yet built."
-Ludovic Kennedy in his book: Pursuit

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Post by lwd » Fri Jan 25, 2008 9:02 pm

How about:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Hoang_Sa
Partially depends on whether or not you insist on "ships" on both sides and what you define as a ship. Siri Lanka and the Tamils have had a lot of sea battles over the last few years many of which involved gunfire although often the combatants are better classed as "boats" rather than "ships". Some of the actions described at:
http://www.history.navy.mil/wars/korea/navalbattles.htm
might also be considered if you are generous with your definiton of "battle" and "ship"

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