The Battle of Tassafaronga, also referred to as the Fourth Battle of Savo Island was a night naval battle that took place on this day in 1942 between United States Navy and Imperial Japanese Navy warships during the Guadalcanal campaign. The battle took place in Ironbottom Sound near the Tassafaronga area on Guadalcanal.
In the battle, a US warship force of five cruisers and four destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Carleton H. Wright attempted to surprise and destroy a Japanese warship force of eight destroyers under the command of Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka. Tanaka’s warships were attempting to deliver food supplies to Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.
Using radar, the US warships gained surprise, opened fire, and sank one of the Japanese destroyers. Tanaka and the rest of his ships, however, reacted quickly and launched numerous torpedoes at the US warships. The Japanese torpedoes hit and sank one US cruiser and heavily damaged three others, enabling the rest of Tanaka’s force to escape without significant additional damage but also without completing the intended supply delivery mission. Although a severe tactical defeat for the US, the battle had little strategic impact as the Japanese were unable to take advantage of the victory to further resupply or otherwise assist in their ultimately unsuccessful efforts to recapture Guadalcanal from Allied forces.