Battle of Savo Island

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The Battle of Savo Island was a naval battle between Japanese and Allied cruisers during the Guadalcanal campaign in World War II. On the night of August 8, 1942, five Allied cruisers (USS Astoria, USS Vincennes, USS Quincy, USS Chicago, and the Australian HMS Canberra) were covering the beachhead at Guadalcanal, where Marines had begun landing the day before. After midnight, a Japanese force of seven cruisers under Admiral Gunichi Mikawa surprised the Allies and quickly sank four cruisers and damaged the Chicago with gunfire and torpedoes. In return, the flagship of the Japanese force, Chokai, was lightly damaged. Fortunately for the Allies, Admiral Mikawa was concerned about the air attacks that would come once day broke, and withdrew without attacking the transports. Aside from the attack on Pearl Harbor, it was the worst defeat ever suffered by the US Navy. 1270 American and Australian sailors lost their lives and 709 were injured.

The Chicago was repaired and returned to action, but was sunk in the Battle of Rennell Island.


  • A History of War at Sea, by Helmut Pemsel, Naval Institute Press, 1975
  • Oxford Guide to World War II, ed. by I.C.B. Dear, Oxford University Press, 1995