Battle of Cape Esperance
On 11 October 1942 Duncan in the screen of TF 64 assigned to protect a vital transport convoy carrying reinforcements to Guadalcanal. Contact was made with a large enemy surface force. Duncan having a clear radar contact and seeing her flagship apparently steady upon a course which would close the target, believed the destroyers were closing to attack, and found herself charging alone toward the enemy force. In the resulting battle off Cape Esperance, she pumped several salvos into a cruiser, then shifted fire to a destroyer, at the same time maneuvering radically to avoid enemy fire and that from her own forces who were now joining in the attack. She got off two torpedoes toward her first target, the cruiser Furutaka, and kept firing until hits she had received put her out of action. The Captain ordered the bridge, isolated by fire, abandoned by the only route possible, over the side, and the wounded were lowered into life rafts. The men on board attempted to beach the ship on Savo Island, but then, believing she might yet be saved made a gallant fight to halt the raging fires until power failed, forcing the ship's abandonment. McCalla (DD-488) rescued 195 men from the shark-infested waters and made an attempt to salvage Duncan but she sank about 6 miles north of Savo Island. 48 men died in the action.