20th March 1943
USN Battleships Arizona and Pennsylvania stole into Savo Sound in the dead of night in the wake of the sweep carried out by the Richmond last night. Should the Hiei still be patrolling around Lunga she would find a more equal fight on her hands. A second sweeping Task Force comprised of Royal Navy cruisers would follow in behind.
First contact was made by Allied radar at approximately 1:00am at a range of 20,000 yards. As the range closed more contacts were made until visual contact was made at around 8,000 yards. The 14inch main batteries on the the Arizona and Pennsylvania were alredy trained and ready to fire and the first salvo of the battle was fired at 2:13 am. The first hit on the Hiei was recorded by the six inch broadside batteries of the Pennsylvania while the escorting vessels added their fire inch guns to the larger shells being delivered by the battlewagons. It appeared that the Japanese ships, the destroyers at least, were engaged in troop loading missions as only two of the destroyers and the Hiei turned to face the USN ships. The Hiei opened her main batteries soon after the first Allied salvos and though her gunnery was off target the Arizona was bracketed by two very near misses. As the range closed to 2,000 yards Long Lance torpedoes traced across the sea and thankfully missed all American vessels. It was at this crucial point that the Pennsylvania scored three very telling hits on the Hiei with her main forward turrets that first penetrated the enemy battleship and then set off a fire amidships. This seemed to take the wind out of the Japanese sails and they began to make smoke and peel away to the North East at full steam. Though several more 14 inch salvoes followed them as they retired the coming dawn and the expenditure of ammunition made the American Task Force also sail away from the Lunga area. The follow up Royal Navy cruiser squadron found no targets to mop up and followed the American battleships away from the battle area.
Nevertheless the Royal Navy would thwart Japanese plans in a theatre of action very much removed from the Solomon Islands. The CVL Hermes had sortied from Colombo when news of further Japanese raiders in the Bay of Bengal were received by RN Eastern Command. Her Swordfish Squadron, the last in the Pacific, was able to locate and successfully at a ligh cruiser lurking to the south of Madras. The hunt is on for the next day as no confirmation of any sinking could be ascertained.