Battle of Cape St. George Facts
The Battle of Cape St. George occurred on November 25th, 1943 between the United States and Japan. The battle took place between New Ireland, Cape St. George, and Buka Island. The surface action that took place on November 25th would be the final engagement between the Allies and Imperial Navy in the Solomon Islands Campaign of World War 2.
Cape St. George Battle Background
- Cape St. George Battle Background
- Battle of Cape St. George Commanders
- Battle of Cape St. George Order of Battle
- Battle of Cape St. George Casualties and Losses
- Battle of Cape St. George Map
- Battle of Cape St. George Summary
- Battle of Cape St. George Conclusions
- Battle of Cape St. George References
On November 1st, 1943, the United States was able to land forces on Bougainville. The presence of the Americans posed a threat to the Japanese forces located on Buka Island to the north. As a result, approximately 900 Imperial Army soldiers were placed on destroyer transport ships: Uzuki, Yugiri, and Amagiri. These ships were subsequently sent to reinforce the Japanese base and were escorted by Imperial Navy destroyers Makinami and Onami who were under the command of Captain Kiyoto Kagawa.
Once the United States Navy gained intelligence on the presence and mission of the Japanese convoy, they sent five Fletcher class destroyers (Spence, Converse, Dyson, Claxton, and the Charles Ausburne) under the command of then Captain Arleigh Burke to intercept the Japanese convoy.
Battle of Cape St. George Commanders
The Battle of Cape St. George was an engagement in the Pacific theater of World War II, fought between American and Japanese forces on November 25, 1943. This intense naval battle featured two iconic commanders: Captain Arleigh Burke for the United States Navy and Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka for the Imperial Japanese Navy.
- Captain Arleigh Burke: Commander of the Destroyer Squadron 23, which consisted of three Fletcher-class destroyers (USS Charles Ausburne, USS Claxton, and USS Dyson).
- Lieutenant Commander Robert E. Hughes: Commander of the USS Charles Ausburne.
- Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Hudner Jr.: Executive officer of the USS Farragut, which was not directly involved in the battle but provided radar support.
- Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka: Commander of the 2nd Destroyer Squadron, which consisted of four destroyers, including the Amagiri, Hatsukaze, Nagatsuki, and Wakaba.
- Captain Kiyoto Kagawa: Commander of the Destroyer Division 27, which consisted of three destroyers, including the Hatsukaze, Wakaba, and Takanami.
Captain Arleigh Burke
Arleigh Burke was an American Admiral and commander-in-chief of U.S. Naval Forces at the Battle of Cape St. George. He was a decorated veteran of several wars, including World War I and II, and he had extensive experience as a naval officer. During the battle, Burke demonstrated his tactical acumen, ordering his ships to flank their Japanese opponents and making good use of available intelligence. His strategic decisions were crucial to the Allied victory at Cape St. George.
Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka
Rear Admiral Raizo Tanaka was one of the top commanders in the Imperial Japanese Navy in WWII and had already distinguished himself with his prowess at sea. He held the title of Chief of Staff for the IJN’s 8th Fleet during the Battle of Cape St. George and commanded from aboard his flagship, the battleship Mikuma. His skillful maneuvering nearly won the day for his forces, but ultimately it was outmaneuvered by Burke’s tactics.
The Battle of Cape St. George proved to be a significant moment in the history of naval warfare. Through the tactical brilliance displayed by both Arleigh Burke and Raizo Tanaka, we can gain insight into the strategies that make naval battles successful. Although ultimately unsuccessful, Kagawa’s actions are worthy of admiration and serve as a reminder of the courage and resilience of those who serve at sea.
Battle of Cape St. George Order of Battle
Allies – United States
|United States Navy||Ship/Unit||Commander|
|Destroyer Squadron 23||Capt. Arleigh Burke|
|Destroyer Division 45||USS Charles Ausburne (Flagship)||Cmdr. Luther K. Reynolds|
|USS Dyson||Cmdr. R. A. Gano|
|Destroyer Division 46||USS Converse||Cmdr. D. C. Hamberger|
|USS Spence||Cmdr. H. J. Armstrong|
Axis – Imperial Japanese Naval Forces
|Imperial Japanese Navy||Ship/Unit||Commander|
|2nd Destroyer Squadron||DD Amagiri||Lt. Cmdr. Kouhei Hanami (Desdiv 11, Desron 3, 8th Fleet)|
|DD Makinami*||Cmdr. Toyoji Hitomi (Desdiv 31, Desron 2, 2nd Fleet)|
|DD Onami* (Flagship)||Cmdr. Kiyoshi Kikkawa (Desdiv 31, Desron 2, 2nd Fleet)|
|DD Uzuki||Lt. Yoshiro Watanabe (Desdiv 30, Desron 3, 8th Fleet)|
|DD Yugiri*||Lt. Cmdr. Shuuichi Otsuji (Desdiv 11, Desron 3, 8th Fleet)|
* Denotes the ship was sunk during the battle
Battle of Cape St. George Casualties and Losses
- Allies – None
- Axis (Japan) – 3 destroyers sunk, 647 killed
Battle of Cape St. George Map
The Battle of Cape St. George took place off the coast of New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago.
Battle of Cape St. George Summary
The American forces could not intercept the Japanese destroyer transports before they could land the more than 900 soldiers and supplies at Buka Island. The ships then embarked an equivalent number of Navy sailors (the Army forces took their place), and started their return to Rabaul. At approximately 0140, the Japanese ships were seen on the radar by the U.S. destroyers.
Due to having superior radar to the Japanese destroyers, the American ships were able to close and launch torpedoes at approximately 0155 prior to being sighted by the Japanese forces. The Makinami was hit by one torpedo from the barrage and was disabled and subsequently sunk by gunfire from the American destroyers.
The Onami was struck by a number of American torpedoes and sank. The remaining Japanese transport destroyers fled. Captain Burke pursued the Yuguri and sank the ship at approximately 0300. The Uzuki was also hit by enemy fire, but was able to escape the area suffering severe damage.
Battle of Cape St. George Conclusions
Although unknown then, the Battle of Cape St. George marked the end of the Japanese resistance in the Solomon Islands and the end of the Tokyo Express. The battle would also be an example of the Allies’ successes in gaining and maintaining superiority in night maritime combat thanks to the advances in radar technology. After the battle, there would not be another surface engagement in the Pacific Theater of War until the Battle of Saipan in June 1944.
Battle of Cape St. George References
- A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy (1941-1945) by P. Dull.
- Chronology of the War at Sea 1939-1945 by J. Rohwer & G. Hummelchen.
- Navweaps.com Cape St George Order of Battle, Last Viewed: 25 November 2013.