11th-12th March 1943
IJN destroyers tried on the 11th March to repeat the stunning success their cruisers had achieved a few days earlier in sinking 13 transports vessels sailing in and out of Calcutta. Three Fubuki Class Destroyers, sleek prows digging into the waters of the Bay Bengal, used a dense fog to steal in under the eyes of aerial search planes scouring the area. The Royal Navy, smarting from the earlier attack and willing to restore some lost honour and some faith in the the hearts of the Merchant Marine had similarly posted a patrol under the auspices of the heavy cruisers Exeter and Shropshire and were steaming into the path of the enemy ships. Fog may hide you from human eyes but not from the mechanical one of radar.
Shropshires radar mast was the first one to start reporting contacts. Soon the light crusier Dauntless was also tracking three enemy vessels at an extreme range of 22,000 yards. Full battle speed was ordered and armour piercing ordinance was started to move to the turrents on the Royal Navy task force. Solid contact via visual was first made by the Exeter than soon opened up with a full broadside of eight inchers. She was soon joined by the Shropshire as the light cruisers and destroyers sped forward into torpedo range. With shells flying over their heads at supersonic speeds it was the crew of the RNN Tjerk Hiddes that scored first blood when two four inch shells tore into the number one turret on the IJN Murakumo. Highlighted as she was by the sudeen strike the Exeter found her range and struck three telling direct hits that first slewed the enemy vessel to a stop and was then followed by a tremendous explosion that caused the ship to sink.
The flames cast light on two other destroyers that were starting to make smoke and speed away from the righteous vengeance of the Royal Navy. A full torpedo salvo scored no hits but once again superior gunnery on the heavy cruisers were able to cripple another of the enemy ships as the stern of the IJN Shinonome disappeared in fire and smoke. This vessel then swerved again to face the oncoming British wall of steel and thus buy her sister time to further increase range. The pummeling she took was not worthy of a battle…
Reports also came in from the DE Decoy that she had engaged and sunk an enemy submarine off Diamond Harbour