Naval History and Heritage Command

National Museum of the U.S. Navy

Battle of Empress Augusta Bay:  November 2, 1943

In the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay on November 2, 1943, the U.S. cruisers and destroyers of Task Force 39, commanded by Rear Admiral Aaron S. Merrill, USN, turned back Japanese forces as they tried to attack invasion shipping off Bougainville early in the morning. In this battle, the Japanese lost the light cruiser Sendai and the destroyer Hatsukaze, while damage to U.S. vessels was repairable.   The U.S. Navy cruisers that helped to sink Sendai were USS Cleveland (CL-55), USS Columbia (CL-56), USS Denver (CL-58), and USS Montpelier (CL-57).  The U.S. Navy destroyers that helped to sink Hatsukaze were USS Claxton (DD-571), USS Spence (DD-512), USS Stanley (DD-478), USS Thatcher (DD-514).  USS Foote (DD-511) was damaged in this action and was transported by USS Charles Ausburne (DD-570).  This action, with its successful use of radar to manage U.S. forces, markes the end of Japan's previous advantage in night engagement.  

Image:  LC-Lot-2406-42:  Japanese cruiser of the Sendai class, undated.  Halftone image from the Department of Naval Intelligence, June 1943.   Courtesy of the Library of Congress.