30th December 1942
Major Japanese naval units have been spotted and engaged to the North West of Nauru Island. A busy day of engagement reports and sightings have been arriving at SOPAC HQ. The first missive was received at 03:35 from the SS Seawolf that reported launching torpedoes at a small enemy carrier strongly believed to be the Ryujo. No explosions were recorded and the submarine eluded all attempts by the escorts to engage her. The Seawolf has ordered to shadow the enemy carrier and relay hourly reports to her sister boats.
The second engagement report was sent by the SS Dolphin that recorded a hit, but no explosion on the IJN Cruiser Atago. Two of the four torpedoes launched hit the enemy vessel but none exploded on contact. The erstwhile Captain continued to shadow this task force and at 04:35, 25 minutes after his first attack, launched another four torpedoes at the light cruiser Tenryu. Another two hits were rewarded with two more dud hits. The Dolphin was engaged by enemy escorts but no hits or damage has been reported. Her commander has relayed the contact coordinates and has continued to shadow the enemy ships last reportedly seen on a south easterly heading.
By 08:23 the picket ship HMAS Cootamundra was reporting a large number of aircraft sightings. Four float planes of various class and three B5N2 bombers were positively identified. Her Captain has been ordered to hold position for one more day, a precarious duty at best!
The first positive aerial sighting of the enemy vessels was made by a Catalina of VP-62. Its pilot radioed in the sighting of various enemy carriers and heavy units to the WNW of Nauru Island on a south easterly heading. She was eventaully chased of by several fighters but her pilot’s reports confirmed fears that the enemy was striking at the newly acquired bases in the Marshall Islands.
Further confirmation, if any was needed, was reported at 10:20 by ‘Lets See ’em’ a B-24 of the 400th Bomber Squadron based at Nauru Island. Her crews counted a large number of enemy ships including carriers and battleships. The IJN was bringing its full might to the party. The New Year celebrations were sure to be electric!
(No screenies as my PC tower is in dry dock getting its processor upgraded)