U.S.S. LAFFEY
                  November 14, 1942.

From:     The Commanding Officer (Acting)
To:      Commander South Pacific Force

Subject:    U.S.S. LAFFEY, Battle Report of.

Enclosure: (A) List of known survivors.
      (B) List of known dead.

    1.   At approximately 0215 on November 13, 1942, the U.S.S. LAFFEY in company with TASK UNIT 67.4 and second ship in formation, column of ships, made contact with a Japanese force of approximately fifteen units located about six miles to the eastward of Savo Island. The crew was at general quarters stations and in all respects ready for action with the enemy. The Executive Officer, now Commanding Officer, was at his battle station at secondary conn. The ship was on course north at fifteen knots, night was dark, no wind.

    2.   Contact with the enemy was first reported over TBS by radar at a distance of thirteen miles and between Savo Island and Cape Esperance. This placed the enemy on the port side of the formation. A short time later further contacts by radar were made on the starboard side of the formation towards the northward of Savo Island. The number of contacts is roughly estimated at fifteen enemy units. Previous to opening fire the order was given by the OTC for odd numbered ships to fire to starboard, even numbered ships to port. Just previous to opening fire two large enemy ships could be made out bearing 315° relative. The enemy illuminated our formation about simultaneously with both sides opening fire. From my station I could not ascertain what our target was at commence fire and since the gunnery officer has been evacuated from Guadalcanal this information cannot be definitely stated at this time. A short time after firing commenced a large enemy unit bore down on the LAFFEY from port and only by speeding up was a collision prevented. Torpedoes were fired at this ship and they were seen to run to the target but did not explode due to the short run and the torpedoes not arming. This large enemy crossed astern of the LAFFEY and fire was opened on its bridge superstructure by all guns which would bear. At about this time a large caliber salvo of shells hit the LAFFEY in the bridge superstructure and in number two gun turret, followed very shortly by a torpedo hit at the fantail. Shortly after this another large caliber salvo hit amidships piercing the after fireroom and electrical workshop. This was the extent of the hits known to have been made on the LAFFEY.

    3.   Due to damage from enemy gunfire and torpedo fire this vessel was in the following condition:

      (1) 5" guns number two, three and four out of commission.
      (2) Engine spaces untenable due to escaping steam.
      (3) Stern end blown off up to number four turret, resulting in no propulsion or steering control.
      (4) Oil fire at extreme stern of vessel.
      (5) No pressure on firemains.
      (6) No electrical power.

    4.   A determined effort was made to extinguish the fire at the after end of the ship. The portable gasoline pump was operated and for a while it appeared to get the fire under control. Prior to starting up the gasoline pump water was poured by hand, using empty powder cans, producing some signs of success. By this time it was definitely established that the ship could not be gotten underway and the Commanding Officer gave orders to abandon ship.

    5.   Abandon ship was conducted in an orderly fashion. Both motor whaleboats and all liferafts except three which caught fire were in the water when a terrific explosion occurred aft. It is believe that the explosion caused the greater percentage of our casualties due to large and small parts of the vessel descending on personnel in the water. Following the explosion the ship sank immediately.

    6.   The Captain, Lieutenant Commander William E. Hank, U.S.N., was last seen in the water near the bow of the vessel but has not been seen since the final explosion of the vessel.

    7.   All members of the crew performed in an exceptionally meritorious fashion and at no time during or following the action was there any confusion or disorganization. Survivors, known at this time to have landed on Guadalcanal Island are listed in enclosure (A). Known dead are listed in enclosure (B). An up-to-date report of Changes (N.Nav.5b) was submitted to Bureau of Personnel, Commander Southern Pacific Force, and Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet, on or about September 26, 1942. A complete muster roll (N.Nav.5a) as of 30 September, 1942, was submitted on or about 3 October, 1942, to Bureau of Personnel and Commander Service Force, Pacific Fleet.

    8.   The U.S.S. LAFFEY previously participated in numerous punitive actions against the enemy, in all cases giving a good account of itself. The crew is considered to be of exceptionally high caliber in spirit and morale and the recommendation that officers and crew be retained as a group to place a new vessel in commission is made with the best interests of the U.S. Navy in mind.

    9.   This report is incomplete due to the temporary absence of such key members as the gunnery officer. A further and more detailed report will be made as early as possible.

              W. T. DOYLE, Jr.