Tactics instructor Capt Wayne Hughes of the Naval Postgraduate School and author of Fleet Tactics
wrote the same as Randy Stone:
"I go farther and say that Callaghan was right to create a mêlée, whether or not that was his intention. No battleship wants to be surrounded by enemy cruisers and destroyers at point-blank range. Moreover, an orderly U.S. column attempting to employ guns would have been destroyed by torpedoes from, all told, eleven Japanese destroyers and a light cruiser. On our side we had unreliable torpedoes (Grace's narrative is conclusive on that score, if any doubt remains). During the event, two U.S. destroyers nearly collided with the lead battleship, Hiei
, while many of our cruisers and destroyers rained shells into its topsides. By confusing both sides, Callaghan assured mission success ...
"... although the battle of Tassafaronga had not yet been fought, in that engagement U.S. cruisers and destroyers (facing destroyers only) would be devastated by Japanese torpedoes because
they were in a tight, orderly column with their beams to the salvo." (emphasis in original)
(on line at Wayne P. Hughes, Guadalcanal: A Reevaluation
(review of Grace, James W., The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal: Night Action 13 November 1942
Scott did not appear to pay attention to radar at First Savo; he frittered away a great deal of his radar advantage at Cape Esperance and, when bringing a torpedoed Chester into port, ran severe risk of numerous collisions with outgoing vessels in the channel.
As for deployment Scott and Callaghan utilized essentially the same formation at Cape Esperance and First Guadalcanal, respectively. Considering the confined waters and, perhaps more importantly, the debut from Sealark Channel during First Guadalcanal--there being no time for a Cape Esperance type interception northwest of Guadalcanal/Savo--I'm not sure any other formation was practical. Certainly none was practiced.
I know it's fashionable to pillory Callaghan but I'm not all in on it. I find Scott to be quite admirable; those under him certainly admired him and he was an exceptional CO of Pensacola ...although one may question his judgment that he felt it possible to press ahead with Pensacola alone of the Pensacola convoy heading to the Philippines at the beginning of the war. That is a matter of judgement I would like to know more about.
I'll have to reread Hornfischer's account of First Guadalcanal but I recall I wasn't too enthusiastic about it when I did. It could be that Callaghan's approach, whatever the details, was the only one which could disrupt the Japanese mission. In First Guadalcanal, as opposed to First Savo, I suppose the weather could be considered to have benefited US forces...it was an important factor in disrupting the Japanese formation, further scattered after fire was opened.
Sorry to be pedantic but details matter.
I believe he would have paid more attention to his radar capabilities and deployed his ships accordingly. I would also think, hitting first would have also been on his mind. As I said, the idea of closing with the battleship may have been on Callahan's mind but he certainly did NOT try to use his torpedo carrying destroyers or even seem to have a grip on the capabilities of his ships.
...differently than Callaghan and can we assume Scott would have done better considering the errors which occurred at Cape Esperance ?
...was seeing this in the Engineering profession until the late 90's when the road to promotion was to get a MBA on top of your engineering degree. In either case, people who had no business being in charge, were put there.
This is copied from a post I made some years ago in another thread. I think it still applies.
I suppose that there will be a few darts sent my way with this observation, but here goes anyway. Some of the discussion about why Callaghan was selected seems to imply that he was somehow singled out for command of the scratch force. If I understand correctly, there were three resupply convoys at Guadalcanal that morning. Callaghan had been selected to command one of those and Scott was in charge of another. The men and their flagships had been chosen only for the convoys, up to that point. When word of the looming IJN threat was received, certain ships were selected from among those already present to make up the scratch force. They were picked as much for remaining fuel and ammunition as for fighting qualities. Since the force included Callaghan and Scott's flagships, they were included in the force with their flagships. After that decision was made, the senior man had command - period. Those warships not selected for the scratch force escorted the supply ships out of the area. (They might have been useful in the coming action, but leaving the supply ships unprotected was not considered an option.)
At Midway, had Halsey been able to go, he would have been in charge. Why? Because he would have been senior. But with Spruance in command of TF-16, Fletcher was in overall command because he was senior to Spruance. Having experience from the Coral Sea was a bonus. So had Halsey been present, seniority would have won out over recent combat experience in the selection for commander. That was just the way it was.
As for Spruance at Midway, Spruance was selected at Pearl after Halsey was "grounded". He was the senior man in TF-16, but was junior to Fletcher in TF-17. Spruance was selected over men with more seniority, but was not placed in command over them.
why Callahan was given command of the cruiser task force just because he was a few days senior to the tested and schooled Scott. Halsey is in charge at Guadalcanal. He had put Spruance, Junior to other carrier officers in his place for Midway. Why would he follow "tradition" for such an important situation? Just puzzled, especially in light of the resulting mess. Hindsight being 20/20, maybe his "actions" brought his cruisers closer in to the battleship resulting in more effective hits but....