In preparation for a final attempt to retake Guadalcanal, the Japanese sent a warship fleet to destroy Henderson Field, subsequently allowing troops to land unimpeded the following day. Under the command of Vice-Admiral Abe, the Japanese warships passed south of Savo Island, spreading out into a disorganized formation due to poor visibility. This caught the American straight line formation off guard as they unwittingly sailed in-between the Japanese flanks. The Japanese guns were ready for the attack on Henderson Field with high explosive ammunition, which was ineffective against enemy warships and had to be quickly reloaded. Once the ships were within range, turmoil ensued as a disorganized, close-quarter battle began. Lack of a battle plan and poor communication greatly hampered American efforts. By the end the Americans had suffered huge losses with both Admirals Callaghan and Scott being killed, but Abe’s forces, whose losses were comparatively far lighter, retreated.
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