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Battle of the Bismarck Sea:  March 2-5, 1943

To reinforce the troops at Lae, New Guinea, on March 1, 1943, the Japanese decided to transport 6,900 soldiers to the garrison.  The Lae Resupply Convoy was led by Rear Admiral Masatomi Kimura.  Spotted by Royal Australian Air Force and American Army Air Force aircraft on March 2, the convoy came under attack and lost eight transport and cargo ships, along with four destroyers (Asashio, Arashio, Tokitsukaze, and Shirayuki) over the next two days.  To mop-up the operation, the U.S. Navy sent a motor torpedo boat striking force led by Lieutenant Commander Barry K. Atkins, which came across and engaged a Japanese submarine trying to pick-up survivors from the attacks.   Overall, the Japanese saved 2,734 men but over 3,000 were missing.  As a result of the losses, the Japanese never again risked sending a large convoy into water that was controlled by American aircraft. 

Image:  LC-Lot-2406-98:  Japanese destroyer Arashio, starboard view, December 1938.  Halftone copy from the files of the Department of Naval Intelligence, June 1943.   Courtesy of the Library of Congress.