Forgotten battle

To the Editor:

The end of March will mark a naval battle concerning one of the lesser known campaigns in the Pacific. Since June of 1942, the Japanese had occupied the Aleutian Islands of Kiska and Attu. While not strategically important, the United States could not ignore the occupation of US territory. Both the Japanese and US (along with Canadians) would find themselves fighting in the harsh Alaskan weather.

While both sides experienced logistical difficulties, the Japanese had to contend with the dangerous task of transporting goods over the North Pacific. Taking precautions, escorts for two transports consisted of two heavy cruisers (HIJMS Nachi and Maya), two light cruisers (Tama and Abukuma), and four destroyers (Wakaba, Hatsushimo, Ikazuchi, and Inazuma); placed under the command of Vice Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya.

Having been tipped off by intelligence that the convoy was bound for Attu, the US Navy quickly assembled a task force to intercept. Led by Rear Admiral Charles McMorris, it was a smaller group. The flagship was the light cruiser USS Richmond, along with four destroyers (Bailey, Coghlan, Dale, and Monaghan). The last ship was the heavyweight, the Pensacola-class heavy cruiser Salt Lake City (SLC). Patrolling the waters west of Attu, the two groups met on March 27 (due to being east of the International Dateline) south of the Soviet Komandorksi Islands.

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