Tom H
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Basil Hilder KIA Lone Pine, Gallipoli
The Battle of Cape Esperance, also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island and, in Japanese sources, as the Sea Battle of Savo Island, took place on 11–12 October, 1942, in the Pacific campaign of World War II between the Imperial Japanese Navy and United States Navy. The naval battle was the second of four major surface engagements during the Guadalcanal campaign and took place at the entrance to the strait between Savo Island and Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. Cape Esperance is the northernmost point on Guadalcanal, and the battle took its name from this point.

On the night of 11 October, Japanese naval forces in the Solomon Islands area—under the command of Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa—sent a major supply and reinforcement convoy to their forces on Guadalcanal. The convoy consisted of two seaplane tenders and six destroyers and was commanded by Rear Admiral Takatsugu Jojima. At the same time, but in a separate operation, three heavy cruisers and two destroyers—under the command of Rear Admiral Aritomo Gotō—were to bombard the Allied airfield on Guadalcanal (called Henderson Field by the Allies) with the object of destroying Allied aircraft and the airfield's facilities.

Shortly before midnight on 11 October, a U.S force of four cruisers and five destroyers—under the command of Rear Admiral Norman Scott—intercepted Gotō's force as it approached Savo Island to bombard Henderson Field.

US NAVY - Rear Admiral Scott

USS San Francisco (CA) FLAG
USS Salt Lake City (CA)
USS Boise (CL)*
USS Helena (CL)*
*SG Advanced radar

USS (DD) Farenholt FLAG
USS (DD) Duncan
USS (DD) Laffey
USS (DD) Buchanan
USS (DD) McCalla


CA Aoba (flag)
CA Furutaka
CA Kinugasa

DD Fubuki (flag)
DD Hatsuyuki


All ships start in black triangular boxes to cover their identity. This simulates night and the fog of war. You can only fire once ships are visible as noted below. Ships with SG radar can fire as noted below. All range modifiers are double and IJN ships have a -1 modifier for firing due to training.

US Ships - Radar can sight up to 45,000. If used for firing there is a 1/10 chance of friendly fire on nearest friendly ship.
US Ships – For each ship there is a 1/10 chance of random loss of course / direction when any turns made. Roll d6 for direction- 1 ahead, 2 left forward, 3 left back, 4 180 degrees back, etc.

Both sides - Visual range 15,000 – can use searchlights to 25,000 but this reveals the ship and 1 x target. All ships “cloaked” until identified visually, on fire, spotted with searchlights, or they have opened fire.

Points for ships sunk for both forces.

With the moon setting, the IJN ships sailed peacefully through the dark scatty showers on to Savo Island blissfully unaware of the US Navy force moving to intercept them.

Part of the Japanese force split from the main body and move off in a SE direction in search of enemy ships. Meanwhile the USN ships move steadily west, apart from a small force of 3 ships (all DDs) that have move NW to tentatively feel out the IJN forces.

Another two ships of the USN forces (the remaining DDs) turn NW to support the other three USN DDs. One of these ships is confused by these maneuvers and accidently turns south before realising their error and needs to catch up with the other ship.

The main force of IJN heavy cruisers continues to its bombardment position off Savo Island.

Suddenly the calm moonless night is split by searchlight beams from the lead USN destroyers which light up the IJN DDs moving towards them. (all covers are removed from the searchlight wielding DDs and the painted IJN DDs)

Japanese ships entering from top left with USN from the right

Closing quickly with each other, both sides DDs launch torpedo attacks at short range, as well as starting to fire with their guns.

Japanese destroyers at top right trade torpedoes with USN DDs at bottom of picture

Huge explosions split the night, as metal, light and smoke pour skyward as the lead two USN DDs Laffey and McCalla explode from gunfire and torpedo hits and start sinking. The lead IJN DD Hatsuyuki is struck by gunfire and a direct torpedo hits, catches fire and starts to flood – finally turning turtle in the water with the burning oil slick slowly spreading over the water.

The Japanese have an early lead on points with 153 points vs the USN 76 for the single Japanese DD.


The lone IJN DD Fubuki turns away with a smile on the Captain's lips as they start smoke. That will keep the Americans scared he thought. USS Buchanan aggressively follows, determined to extract revenge and starts to accurately shell the Japanese destroyer. The other two USN destroyers Farenholt and Duncan, with the light cruiser Helena move north to support the Buchanan.

Fubuki (top left) lays smoke while Buchanan peppers her with shells

The Japanese destroyer starts to reload torpedoes for another run at the Americans. Once bitten, twice shy, the Buchanan keeps her range and accurately fires at the Fubuki, shooting off her gun turrets, starting a fire and damaging her rudder.

The IJN cruisers continue to move due south to start their bombardment of Henderson Field. The American heavy cruisers sail due west to engage the Japanese cruiser force.

Suddenly the IJN cruiser force opens fire on the USS Buchanan. Lighting the night sky with their salvos the Japanese gunfire on the Buchanan causes serious damage with the American destroyer slowly settling in the water with only one hull point remaining.

Japanese cruisers start to shell the USS Buchanan at long range. Concealed USN cruisers in the distance.

The American cruisers on seeing the Japanese force start firing at the lead cruisers Kinugasa and Furutaka. Some minor damage is inflicted on the Japanese ships but they are largely unharmed.


With her rudder damaged the Fubuki turns tail and makes a run to escape into the night. The Buchanan breaks off as she is badly damaged. The undamaged Farenholt and Duncan close in but are too far off to be effective.

Like two heavy weight boxers the IJN and USN cruiser forces close in and try and land a killer blow. The Salt Lake City leads with her chin and is quickly encircled by the lead Japanese cruisers Kinugasa and Furutaka. This means the firing from the other USN cruisers is limited to prevent hitting their own ship.

Death of the USS Salt Lake City (middle right) - surrounded by IJN cruisers

The IJN cruisers launch torpedoes at the Salt Lake City and open fire with their main guns. The concentrated fire of the IJN cruisers starts numerous fires on the Salt Lake City until finally she is struck by the Long Lance torpedoes and split in the middle by a terrific explosion. Her return salvos, helped by the guns of the USS Boise on the Kinugasa cause serious damage and start a number of fires on the Japanese heavy cruiser.

The accurate fire of the San Francisco targets the Furutaka destroying a rear secondary turret as well as come hull damage. The Helena fires on the Aoba causing light damage at the distance.

Japanese now lead 273 points to 76 points. This is not going according to the USN plan – or history! Can Rear Admiral Scott turn this around?
As the Salt Lake City sinks beneath the waves, the Japanese cruisers have a taste for more blood. The Kinugasa swings round the stern of the sinking Salt Lake City she runs into heavy USN broadside salvoes from the Boise. The fires continue to rage on the Kinugasa, unabated by the fire control teams and she sinks from the accumulated damage.

The Japanese cruisers focus on the San Francisco, Scott’s flagship. Main batteries blaze and the Aoba moves closer to deliver a Long Lance torpedo attack as the final coup de grace. The San Francisco weathers the fury of the storm with the stars and stripes flying high overhead. Secondary gun turrets are blown away and a main gun turret destroyed by the fury of the fire from the three Japanese cruisers (simultaneous fire from all).

The San Francisco and Helena concentrate their fire on the Furutaka. Accurate salvoes destroy a secondary turret, start fires and ultimately sink the Japanese heavy cruiser.

At the end of the fire phase two Japanese heavy cruisers are lying on their side burning as the Aoba and San Francisco stand on watching. The Aoba’s torpedoes close on the San Francisco and …. HIT! However the long lance attack fails to penetrate the San Francisco’s armour below her waterline. Only half damage! The brave ship lives on (with a handful of hull points)! Rear Admiral Scott grits his teeth and fights on.

At this Rear Admiral Goto throws in the towel and commits ceremonial sepuku on the bridge of his flagship as he orders her to be scuttled. He will have done all in his power to follow his orders. The lone surviving IJN DD slinks home in the night – thinking of what might have been….

Final scores –
IJN – 273 points
USN – 321 (not including the Aoba)


What a cracker of a game. Lots of action, drama, low and highlights, both sides winning then losing.

This game was certainly a lot bloodier and more even than the actual historical encounter. In the game the Japanese sank 1 x heavy cruisers and 2 x DDs, with the Americans sinking 2 x heavy cruisers and 1 x destroyer. Historically the Japanese sank 1 x destroyer and damaged a cruiser and destroyer, while the Americans sank a cruiser and a destroyer, while damaging another cruiser.

The IJN were leading all game and when the Salt Lake City was sunk it looked like curtains for the USN. Some desperate action and lucky rolls left them standing alone in the ring.

The rules concerning the loss of direction for USN ships came into play just like the real battle - although no friendly fire occurred due to cautious USN play.

Everyone enjoyed the game and it was very interesting to see how the players behaved with the uncertainty of using the sleeves to cover the ship identities. The decisions to use radar, searchlight, open fire or not all seemed to weigh heavy and led to some interesting situations.
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United States
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Another outstanding Session Report. thumbsup
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Tom H
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Basil Hilder KIA Lone Pine, Gallipoli
pete belli wrote:
Another outstanding Session Report. thumbsup

Thanks Peter - and thanks for the GG.
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