THE BATTLE OF SURIGAO STRAIT
While Admiral Halsey was steaming north to strike the Japanese carrier force, Admiral Kinkaid was proceeding with his arrangements for a night battle to the south under the assumption that the fast battleships and cruisers of the Third Fleet were still lying off San Bernardino Strait ready to fall upon any part of the enemy Central Force which ventured a sortie. The Seventh Fleet therefore made preparations to meet one Japanese force of greatly inferior power instead of two forces which, if combined at full strength, would outclass our gunnery available in Leyte Gulf.
Kinkaid's assumption that San Bernardino Strait was still guarded resulted from his interpretation of two messages of the commander of the Third Fleet. The first of these, designated Battle Plan, was sent to all Third Fleet task force and task group commanders shortly after 1500 and was intercepted by the Seventh Fleet commander, who was not an addressee. The message merely announced that Task Force 34, consisting of certain ships, would be formed. It did not state when nor for what purpose. The Seventh Fleet staff interpreted the verb "will be" as a command to be executed, and believed, as Kinkaid said, that the task force "was being formed" at that time.*____________________