January 29-30, 1943 - Japanese aircraft score a victory at the Battle of Rennell Island. In January 1943, RAdm. Robert Giffen's Task Force 18, consisting of three heavy cruisers, three light cruisers, two escort carriers, and eight destroyers, was operating between Rennell Island and Guadalcanal. Tasked with screening a convoy of reinforcements, TF 18 was attacked by Japanese bombers on January 29. In the course of the fighting, USS Chicago (right) was hit by two torpedoes. Severely damaged, it was taken under tow by the fleet tug USS Navajo the next morning. Later in the day, TF 18 was ordered to Efate and Giffen left six destroyers to escort Chicago to port. On the afternoon of January 30, Japanese bombers returned, and despite a strong American combat air patrol, succeeded in hitting Chicago with four more torpedoes. The destroyer USS La Vallette was also damaged in the attack. With his ship mortally wounded, Capt. Ralph Davis ordered abandon ship and the crew was removed. The loss of Chicago and withdrawal of TF 18 left the waters around Guadalcanal relatively free of Allied warships which allowed the Japanese to evacuate their troops from the island in early February.
Guadalcanal Campaign - Naval Battles:
Photograph Courtesy of the US Navy History & Heritage Command