War Diary SOPAC, 2nd December 1942.
Catalina’s of VP-14 (Tarawa) and VP-61 (Makin) spotted three Japanese carriers off the small island of Alik in the Northern Marshall Islands. They tracked their progress due East for about 8 hours until a second Japanese task force was spotted trailing the flattops to the West. Three Cats of VP-61 confirmed the presence of Japanese oilers, no doubt the fleet train for the carriers heading East. The heading and direction of the enemy ships suggested that the carriers were trying to steal into our main shipping lanes between Pearl Harbour and our new bases in the Southern Solomons. TF 1 (ANZAC Cruiser Force under Captain H.A.Showers RAN), resident covering force for these bases was immediately ordered to steam north at full speed keeping as far West as the danger of aerial attack from Japanese air bases at Roi-Namur and Kwajalein permitted. Their bravery was rewarded when radar on HMNZS Leander and USS Barker began to pick up blips just over the horizon. Closing to combat range at Battle Speed 1 they came upon three enemy oilers escorted by a couple of destroyers and a small patrol craft.
HMAS Adelaide opened the battle with a full salvo from her main batteries that fell short of the closest escorting destroyer. The Japanese ships had seemed to be somewhat surprised to see our ships so close to enemy carriers and they seemed slow to react. HMNZS Leander and the USN destroyer Parrott immediately began to bracket the closest Japanese oiler with direct fire and several punishing hits from the Leander soon set the ship ablaze, no doubt she still had fuel in her bunkers! Unfortunately though fortune favours the bold she can also be a very fickle mistress. A solitary hit on the Parrott from an enemy destroyer set of her magazine which set off a masssive explosion. She sank in 25 seconds and as of yet no reports of survivors have come through. By battle’s end all three enemy oilers were burning profusely and two of them were seen to be listing heavily to port. The Adelaide took some damage but mainly in her superstructure and can still maintain a good head of speed.