Battle of Santa Cruz Island
With bomb damage to Enterprise (24 August), torpedo damage to Saratoga (31 August), and loss of Wasp (15 September ) US carrier strength in the South Pacific was reduced to one carrier, Hornet. The gallant carrier guarded the sea approach to bitterly contested Guadalcanal in the Solomons and bore the brunt of providing air cover in the Solomons until 24 October 1942 when she joined Enterprise northwest of the New Hebrides Islands and steamed to intercept a Japanese carrier-battleship force bearing down on Guadalcanal. The Battle of Santa Cruz Island took place 26 October 1942 without contact between surface ships of the opposing forces. That morning Enterprise planes bombed carrier Zuiho. Planes from Hornet severely damaged carrier Shokaku, and cruiser Chikuma. Two other cruisers were also attacked by Hornet aircraft. Meanwhile, Hornet, herself, was fighting off a coordinated dive bombing and torpedo plane attack which left her so severely damaged that she had to be abandoned.