Posted by: nativeiowan | May 21, 2014

Iron Bottom Sound

I was just talking to a friend about the history of this place where I now stand. I can view the coast line of Guadalcanal from Ruanui to Lunga. We have Savo and Ngella floating like gems on the turquoise water. On a clear day you can see San George. The basic area being discussed IBS copy I did a quick check on my facts and find that between August 1942 to April 1943 over 40 vessels sank in these water, so aptly called “Iron Bottom Sound”. It’s a bit daunting to bring this all into perspective. The magnitude of the sheer size and volume and quantity, of machines, metals, and mankind…  is breathtaking. Over nine months, and over five major sea battles:

  • Battle of Savo Island, 9 August 1942
  • Battle of Cape Esperance, 11–12 October 1942
  • Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, 13–15 November 1942
  • Battle of Tassafaronga, 30 November 1942
  • Operation I-Go, 1–16 April 1943

Both the Japanese and the Allied forces suffered indescribably as the basically blasted each other out of the water: The major wrecksIBS 2 copy

Sunken ships:


  • Aaron Ward (US Gleaves-class destroyer)
  • Astoria (US New Orleans-class cruiser)
  • Atlanta (US Atlanta-class anti-aircraft cruiser)
  • Barton (US Benson-class destroyer)
  • Blue (US Bagley-class destroyer)
  • Canberra (Australian Kent-class cruiser)
  • Colhoun (US Wickes-class destroyer)
  • Cushing (US Mahan-class destroyer)
  • De Haven (US Fletcher-class destroyer)
  • Duncan (US Gleaves-class destroyer)
  • George F. Elliot (US Heywood-class attack transport)
  • Gregory (US Wickes-class destroyer)
  • Jarvis (US Bagley-class destroyer)
  • John Penn (US attack transport)
  • Kanawha (US Kanawha/Cuyama-class fleet oiler)
  • Laffey (US Benson-class destroyer)
  • Little (US Wickes-class destroyer)
  • Moa (New Zealand Bird-class corvette)
  • Monssen (US Gleaves-class destroyer)
  • Northampton (US Northampton-class heavy cruiser)
  • Preston (US Mahan-class destroyer)
  • PT-37 (US PT boat)
  • PT-44 (US PT boat)
  • PT-111 (US PT boat)
  • PT-112 (US PT boat)
  • PT-123 (US PT boat)
  • Quincy (US New Orleans-class cruiser)
  • Seminole (US Navajo-class oceangoing tug)
  • Serpens (United States Coast Guard-manned Liberty ship)
  • Vincennes (US New Orleans-class cruiser)
  • Walke (US Sims-class destroyer)
  • YP-284 (US Yard Patrol craft)


  • Akatsuki (Japanese Akatsuki-class destroyer)
  • Ayanami (Japanese Fubuki-class destroyer)
  • Fubuki (Japanese Fubuki-class destroyer)
  • Furutaka (Japanese Furutaka-class cruiser)
  • Hiei (Japanese Kongō-class battleship)
  • Hirokawa Maru (Japanese military transport)
  • Kasi Maru (Japanese freighter)
  • Kinugawa Maru (Japanese military transport)
  • Kirishima (Japanese Kongō-class battleship)
  • Makigumo (Japanese Yūgumo-class destroyer)
  • Takanami (Japanese Yūgumo-class destroyer)
  • Teruzuki (Japanese Akizuki-class destroyer)
  • Toa Maru (Japanese military transport)
  • Yudachi (Japanese Shiratsuyu-class destroyer)

And this is only what was sunk! And very importantly does not take into consideration the land or air based troops n battles and suffering. Each battle saw vessels damaged but not sunk. Each battle saw carnage that our modern minds cannot fathom. For a quick reference consider that the Allies lost 1077 men in the battle of Savo alone. Japan lost 58. The battle of Cape Esperance saw 163 allies lost and 454 Japanese killed with 111 captured. The naval battle of Guadalcanal saw 1732 Allies and 1900 Japanese killed. The battle of Tassafaronga saw 395 Allies and 197 Japanese lost. Operation I-Go saw the Allies lose five vessels and 25 aircraft but they basically wiped away the Japanese airpower in the region by destroying 55 Japanese aircraft. And the Japanese “island hopping” was halted. The more I research the more I am stunned by the weight, the magnitude, the sheer horror of those short few months… Far-called our navies melt away—
On dune and headland sinks the fire—
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday
Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!
Judge of the Nations, spare us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget!


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