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The United States Navy Memorial

Navy Memorial Honoring the Men & Women of the Sea Services


South Dakota

Ship Designation: 
Date Lost: 
Sunday, November 15, 1942
Night Action off Guadalcanal
While operating 50 miles southwest of Guadalcanal it was learned that an enemy convoy would likely transit the passage off Savo sometime during the night hours. This Japanese bombardment group consisted of battleship Kirishima; heavy cruisers Takao and Atago; and a destroyer screen. ... Three ships were visually sighted from the bridge of South Dakota. Washington fired on the leading ship, and a minute later, South Dakota's main battery opened on the ship nearest her. Both initial salvos started fires on the targets. South Dakota then fired on another target until it disappeared from her radar screen. Turret No. 3-firing over her stern and demolishing her own planes in the process-opened on another target and continued firing until the target disappeared. Her secondary batteries were firing at eight destroyers close to Savo Island. A short lull in the battle followed after which radar plot showed four enemy ships just off Savo Island, approaching from the starboard bow. Searchlights from a Japanese ship in the enemy column illuminated South Dakota. Washington opened with her main battery on the leading, and largest ship. South Dakota's secondary batteries put out the lights; and she shifted all batteries on the third ship, believed to be a cruiser, which soon gushed smoke. ... South Dakota, under fire from at least three ships, had taken 42 hits causing considerable damage. Her radio communications failed; radar plot was demolished; three fire control radars were damaged; there was a fire in her foremast; and she had lost track of Washington. As she was no longer receiving enemy fire and there were no remaining targets, she withdrew; rendezvoused with Washington at a prearranged location; and proceeded to Noumea.

Lost At Sea Log

Number of sailors in this log: 39

Namesort descending Service Branch
Matt 3c Milledge Adams USN
LCdr John Burke USN
Ens Leon Canfield USN
Mus 1c John Carmitchel USN
Sea 2c Olen Conner USN
RDM 3c Giovanni Corrieri USN
Lt(jg) David Currer USN
CY John Ebel USN
FC 2c Russell Engholm USN
MM 2c Lawrence Erwin USN
F 3c Arthur Fox USN
Sea 2c Will Greenhaw USN
Sea 2c Albert Hartman USN
OStd 3c Alfred Henderson USN
Sea 2c Melvin Henderson USN
Sea 2c Willard Hesser USN
Sea 2c Lewis Heuszel USN
F 2c James Holmes USN
GM 3c Frank Horton USN
Sea 2c George Iven USN


Prepared by CAPT R.O. Strange USN (Ret.)