Control of the Sea
In retrospect, there were six recognized major naval engagements, at least ten pitched land battles, and too many bombardments, minor land and sea clashes to list, during the Guadalcanal Campaign. At sea, there was Savo Island (August 8-9), the Eastern Solomons (August 24), Cape Esperance (October 11), Santa Cruz Islands (October 26), Guadalcanal (November 11-15), and Tassafaronga (November 30). The first two we have already dealt with, the last we shall leave for later.
We shall here review the other Guadalcanal-related major naval engagements, tracing major developments in narrow sea tactics and technique as we go. We shall also develop operational patterns for what they tell us about control of these narrow waters.
Eastern Solomons was followed by a six-week hiatus in the war at sea, lasting through September. In this time, the IJN of course kept the pressure on. Skirmishing in the Slot continued every night--bitter, small-scale actions. On the morning of August 31, Saratoga was torpedoed (126, CDR Yokota) and sent home for repair. Tokyo also used this time to attempt to understand the, to them, irrational scale of Washington's reaction to the Solomons affair. In this they were