USS QUINCY, USS VINCENNES, USS ASTORIA. (August 9/10, 1942)
Three US cruisers sunk during the one hour 1st.Battle of Savo Island by a force
of Japanese warships including five heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and one
destroyer. The American warships were protecting and escorting US troop
transports en route to Gaudalcanal. Total losses from the three ships amounted
to 1,077 men killed and 709 wounded. On the USS Astoria 216 men were killed.
The Vincennes lost 332 men and 529 men were lost on the Quincy. Many of the
blood and oil covered survivors, struggling in the water, fell victim to the
sharks. Japanese casualties were only 58 killed and 70 wounded.
The catastrophe at Savo Island was a demoralizing defeat for the Allies and the
worst defeat ever suffered by the United States Navy. During this one hour duel,
the Australian cruiser HMAS CANBERRA (Captain Frank Getting) was also
sunk with the loss of 85 lives. Many of Canberra's survivors were rescued by
the American destroyers USS Patterson and the USS Blue which was herself
sunk with all hands some weeks later on August 23. On hearing of the
Camberra's sinking, Churchill requested that the British cruiser HMS Shropshire
be sent to replace her. In 1943, the US launched a cruiser and named her
Canberra, the first time the US Navy had named a vessel after a foreign warship.
Fifty years later, a deep sea diving team, led by Robert R. Ballard, and including
one of the Canberra's survivors, Ordinary Seaman Albert Warne, placed a plaque
on the battered but upright hull of the Canberra which read
"In Memory Of Our Fallen Comrades".
USS Astoria....HMAS Canberra....USS Quincy....USS Vincennes.