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Night Surface Action off New Georgia

6 March 1943 


USS DENVER (CL-58)

Denver (CL-58) during the action at Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943. The photo was autographed by the commanding officer, then-Captain Robert B. Carney (NH 124398).

Beginning in January 1943, the Navy’s South Pacific Force (Third Fleet after 15 March), carried out repeated gunfire bombardments of the Japanese airfields being expanded at Munda on New Georgia and Vila on the neighoring island of Kolombagara. On the night of 5–6 March, Cruiser Division 12, commanded by Rear Admiral Aaron “Tip” Merrill, picked up two enemy contacts in the Kula Gulf, which separates the two northern Solomon Islands. Merrill’s ships engaged the Japanese destroyers Murasame and Minegumo and sank them. Cruiser Division 12 then carried out its shore-bombardment mission. The following radarscope images were taken onboard Denver (CL-58) during the engagement and included in the ship's 9 March 1943 after-action report.


Photo #: NH 100386  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

The situation at time 0100.50, just before opening fire. Denver is the bright spot in the center of the scope, with other U.S. ships ahead, steaming south-southwest. The large white patch at left is Kolombangara and that at right is New Georgia. The large spot just off the Kolombangara shore is the Japanese destroyers Minegumo and Murasame, both of which were sunk in this action (NH 100386).


Photo #: NH 100389  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

Denver (CL-58) SG radarscope image, showing the situation at time 0117, as the U.S. force begins to turn north after firing on the Japanese destroyers Murasame and Minegumo. Denver is the bright spot in the center of the scope, with Cleveland (CL-55) and Montpelier (CL-57) ahead of her, still heading south-southwest. Conway (DD-507) and Waller (DD-466) are farther ahead, starting to turn north. Kolombangara is the large white patch at left, with one of the Japanese ships showing as a faint spot offshore in the upper left center. Arundel Island is in the lower left and New Georgia is on the right (NH 100389).


Photo #: NH 100391  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

The situation at time 0138, shortly before the U.S. force ceased its bombardment of Vila. Denver is the bright spot in the scope center, with other the U.S. ships steaming north, ahead of her. The large white patch at left is Kolombangara, with Vila at its southern end. Very faint patches offshore, to the west of the U.S. ships, are the wreckage of Japanese destroyers Murasame and Minegumo, sunk earlier in the action. At the lower left is Arundel Island. New Georgia is in the lower right (NH 100391).


Photo #: NH 100387  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

The situation at time 0105.75, as the U.S. force was firing on Japanese destroyers Minegumo and Murasame. Denver is the bright spot in the center of the scope, with other U.S. ships steaming south-southwest ahead of her. The large white patch at left is Kolombangara, with the two Japanese ships showing as spots just offshore. Murasame, dead in the water, is the smaller spot. Minegumo's movement makes her spot appear larger. The large white patch at right is New Georgia (NH 100387).


Photo #: NH 100390  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

The situation at time 0125, as the U.S. force completed its turn to the north while bombarding Vila. The Japanese destroyer Murasame has sunk and Minegumo is sinking. She is the small spot at the top of the scope. Denver is the bright spot in the center of the scope, with other the U.S. ships steaming in column ahead of her. Kolombangara is the large white patch at left, with Vila at its south end. Arundel Island is in the lower left, and New Georgia is at right (NH 100390).


Photo #: NH 100392  Action in Kula Gulf, 6 March 1943

The situation at time 0145, as the U.S. force retired from Kula Gulf after shelling Vila and sinking the Japanese destroyers Murasame and Minegumo. Denver is the bright spot in the scope center, with other the U.S. ships steaming to NNE ahead of her. Kolombangara Island is the large white patch on the left left, with Vila at its southern end. New Georgia is on the right. The spot above the main U.S. column is probably Waller (DD-466), steaming to the north (NH 100392).


Photo #: NH 84397  USS Denver (CL-58)

Denver (CL-58) in a South Pacific harbor, circa 1943. Note signal flags drying on her foremast halyards (NH 84397).

Published:Fri May 04 13:34:53 EDT 2018