USS Sterett (DD-407) in the Battle of Guadacanal. Artist Dale Byhre.
The American warships threaded their way into the enemy formation, and a deadly crossfire immediately engulfed Sterett. At 0150, Admiral Callaghan ordered odd ships in column to open fire to starboard and even ships to engage the enemy to port. Sterett fired on a cruiser to starboard and, in turn, took a terrific pounding from battleship Hiei on her port side. Soon her first target was enveloped in a large explosion and sank, a victim of the combined fire of the Americans.
At this point, the battle degenerated into a swirl of individual duels and passing shots. Sterett turned now to the giant tormenting her port side, let fly four torpedoes, and peppered her superstructure with 5-inch shells. Though the battleship neither sank nor sustained severe damage, Sterett had the satisfaction of scoring two torpedo hits before a third target crossed her bow. At the appearance of an enemy more her size, Sterett tore into the destroyer with her guns and launched two torpedoes. Before the Japanese destroyer could fire a single shot at Sterett, she was lifted from the water by the exploding torpedoes and rapidly settled to the floor of “Iron-bottom Sound.”
By this time, Sterett had undergone a brutal beating from Hiei and various other enemy ships. Thus, at 0230, with the Japanese retiring toward Savo Island, Sterett, her after guns and starboard torpedo tubes out of commission, began to withdraw. She had difficulty overtaking the rest of her force because of her damaged steering gear and the necessity to reduce speed periodically to control the blaze on her after deck. However, by dawn, she was back in formation on the starboard quarter of San Francisco.
See more of Dale’s fine paintings at https://marineartbydale.com/