Battleship Battle of Surigao Strait: How the U.S. Navy Avenged Pearl Harbor
Warfare History Network Security, It was historic. Battleship Battle of Surigao Strait: How the U.S. Navy Avenged Pearl HarborThe fire from Yamagumo’s burning hulk might have helped the torpedomen see their targets, but it did not help to hit them. Arunta launched four torpedoes at a range of 6,500 yards. All four missed. Beale fired five torpedoes at 6,800 yards. These missed as well. Killen had better luck, firing five torpedoes at Yamashiro and hitting her once. Killen’s captain, Commander H.G. Corey, had been at Pearl Harbor and must have taken pleasure in torpedoing one of the enemy’s battleships. The second torpedo hit on Yamashiro slowed the ship to five knots, but only for a short time. The tough old battlewagon still made headway, and steadily regained speed.At 2:43 pm on October 24, 1944, Rear Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf received a dispatch from Vice Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid, commander of the Central Philippines Attack Force. The message was straightforward and direct: “Prepare for night engagement,” and was duly logged aboard Oldendorf’s flagship, the heavy cruiser USS Louisville. Admiral Oldendorf, commander of the Leyte invasion fire support warships, was not surprised by the order. Naval intelligence had already been apprised of the fact that a Japanese force was on its way toward Leyte Gulf.
Avoiding Another Savo Island
At the height of the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Admiral Oldendorf, a stocky man with a cheerful disposition, was to intercept Japanese naval Force C, under the command of Vice Admiral Shoji Nishimura. That morning, Nishimura’s task group had been spotted by aircraft from the carriers Enterprise and Franklin. Another task group was sighted less than three hours later. This was Number Two Striking Force, under Vice Admiral Kiyohide Shima. The main force, the First Striking Force under Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita, had been intercepted by the submarines Darter and Dace the day before.
The three Japanese task groups were to rendezvous at Leyte Gulf, with Kurita entering from the north and Nishimura and Shima from the south, and attack the American transports and their escorts off the Philippine island of Leyte where American forces under General Douglas MacArthur had landed on October 20. If everything went according to the Japanese plan, the three task groups would arrive at Leyte Gulf at dawn on October 25, sink the American support ships off Leyte, and isolate the American troops on the island.
When he received the order to prepare for a night battle, Admiral Oldendorf decided that his best course of action would be to block Surigao Strait. The northern end of the strait leads into Leyte Gulf, and Oldendorf intended to place a battle line “squarely across the Leyte exit of the strait,” blocking Japanese access to the gulf. And he had enough warships at his disposal to accomplish what he had in mind.