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Komandorski Islands

The Komandorski Islands are located at the extreme west end of the Aleutian chain, just off the Kamchatka Peninsula (167E 55N), and are Russian territory. The island were completely undeveloped in 1941.

Battle of the Komandorski Islands


Photograph of USS Salt Lake City at the Battle of the Komandorski Islands

National Archives #80-G-73827

On 26 March 1943, a Japanese convoy of two fast merchant ships, protected by a covering force under Vice Admiral Hosogaya Boshiro, attempted to reinforce Kiska. It was intercepted by an American task force under Rear Admiral Charles McMorris near the Komandorski Islands. The Japanese covering force consisted of the heavy cruisers Nachi and Maya, the light cruisers Tama and Abukuma, and the destroyers Wakaba, Hatsushimo, Ikazuchi, and Inazuma. The American force was composted of the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City, the light cruiser Richmond, and destroyers Bailey, Coughlan, Dale, and Monaghan.

Though outgunned, the Americans attempted to get around the covering force to attack the transports. The two sides exchanged gunfire for over four hours. Nachi was hit a number of times, but Salt Lake City was disabled by shock damage from her own gunfire and a hit in the after engine room. Poor damage control resulted in a complete loss of power, and McMorris ordered his destroyers to execute a desperate torpedo attack. At this point the Japanese suddenly broke off and fled. Hosogaya later explained that he was low on ammunition and fuel, and a number of near misses from the American ships were mistaken for aircraft bombs, leading him to believe he was under air attack. He was subsequently forced into retirement, while McMorris returned from the battle a hero.

References

Morison (1951)



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