Battle of Tassafaronga
Northampton operated with a cruiser-destroyer force to prevent the Japanese from reinforcing troops on Guadalcanal. The Battle of Tassafaronga began just before midnight when three American destroyers made a surprise torpedo attack on the Japanese. ... All American ships then opened fire, which the startled enemy did not return for 7 minutes. Then two US cruisers took torpedo hits within the space of a minute, and 10 minutes later, another was hit, all being forced to retire from the action. Northampton and USS Honolulu, with 6 destroyers, continued the action, scoring many hits. Close to the end of the engagement, Northampton was struck by two torpedoes, which tore a huge hole in her port side, ripping away decks and bulkheads. Flaming diesel oil sprayed over the ship, she took on water rapidly and began to list. ... Three hours after the torpedo attack, Northampton began to sink stern first and had to be abandoned. So orderly and controlled was the process that loss of life was surprisingly light, and the survivors were all picked up within an hour by destroyers. While three cruisers had been damaged and Northampton lost, the Japanese had been denied a major reinforcement, and once again the Navy had given vital support to the marines fighting ashore. ... A total of 50 crewmembers were killed in Northampton as a result of this action.