Segment 7


The second battle off of Savo Island started a little after midnight. It lasted for about an hour. It was a hectic thing. The enlisted people did not ordinarily know what was going on in the upper echelon. It was in the wardroom where the captain and the executives knew what was going on, and then they would pass down the orders to the officers. A full pre-war compliment of sailors on the San Francisco consisted of roughly 800 men. After the war started the San Francisco carried roughly 1200 men. Some men from the December 1941 class of the Naval Academy came on board the USS San Francisco. They loaded the ship with extra men because they knew they were going to lose people. The only reason they needed 400 extra men was so that the ship could sustain casualties. On the 12th of November, 1942 the USS San Francisco was covering a supply drop off of Guadalcanal for the Marines. There were coastwatchers on Guadalcanal and other island in the Solomons [Islands] and they warned the San Francisco that on the afternoon of the 12th, 12 Japanese torpedo planes were headed their way. It was one or two in the afternoon. The San Francisco was close in on the beach but once the aircraft came over they realized they had to get moving. They were able to knock down most of the planes. One of the planes crashed intentionally into the San Francisco. There was an explosion when he hit. They lost 22 people from the plane hitting the ship. They were able to clear the plane off of the deck. They did not have time to bury the dead because late in the afternoon it was supper for the crew and everything needed to be cleaned and secured. They went immediately to general quarters at around seven or eight [PM] and they stayed there until the battle began. Ward knew something was going on because he could feel the screws turning on the ship. They steamed right into a mess. There were two cruisers with destroyers; dead ahead there was a battleship and a cruiser, with two destroyers. Around the point a Japanese battleship was waiting close to shore. Since radar was not able to get an accurate reading of the Japanese ship because of its proximity to shore, it was a complete surprise. The San Francisco was in the middle of a terrible exchange of fire coming from 3 different points. The San Francisco was able to fight its way out and helped set one of the Japanese battleships on fire. They were able to knock out a Japanese destroyer as well. After an hour the line of battle had broken up. Night time did not allow for searchlights to be turned on. It was a nasty scrap. The Helena, the Portland, and the Salt Lake City made it out. San Francisco took the opening hits. Most of the fanfare seemed to head towards the San Francisco's way. Most everyone on the bridge was killed. The admiral was killed and so was most of his staff. They lost most of the officers on the navigation bridge. Bruce McCandless ended up taking control of the ship. The San Francisco was taking water and it was listing. They lost most of their people in the Number Two handling room. Some people were lost in damage control. The First Lieutenant in control of damage control was killed. Damage control was below the waterline. Any hit that came through the armor belt would cause casualties. That night the Japanese lost a battleship and two cruisers. The other Japanese battleship was damaged and headed back to Rabaul.


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