19th March 1943, Part Two
There was ome surface action as well. The Japanese movements out of Guadalcanal continue as aerial search keeps on spotting APDs and transports coming and going from Lunga Point. Efforts on the part of the USAAF and USN PT Boats have come to nothing when trying to intercept the Japanese ships. Admiral Nimitz decided it was time for the US Navy’s surface assets to take a role in the matter. The CL Richmond would lead in three destroyers on the night of 18th/19th March and try to get in among the pigeons and wreck as much havoc as possible before retiring into the cover of the P-38 umbrella from Ndeni. The IJN carrier that was standing overwatch had disappeared Northwards and as such the way was clear. What the Richmond was not expecting was an enemy battlewagon in the shape of HIJMS Hiei. She stood guard over the entrance into Savo Sound with five escorting destroyers. In a clear night, a full moon that wouldnt wane American and Japanese ships traded fire across the still, calm waters to the south of Guadalcanal.
The inital Allied salvo scored a light hit on Hiei, but her armoured carapace was able to shrug it off effortlessly. Long Lance torpedoes soon streaked across the water as the Richmond brought her 6 inch guns to bear on the enemy destroyer Akigumo and soon set on her fire. Disaster however was not tardy to follow as the Jenkins, already damaged by two solid hits from the Makigumo, took a Long Lance in the guts. A definat last salvo of her forward 5 inch turrent was the las anyone saw of her or her crew. The American ships soon turned away back into the relative safety of the Santa Cruz Islands to lick their wounds and think of another way of disrutping Japanese intentions.