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Battle of Vella Lavella
Part of the Pacific Theater of World War II
USS Selfridge and OBannon damaged Oct 1943.JPG
The destroyers USS Selfridge and O'Bannon at Noumea after the battle.
Date6 October 1943
LocationVella Lavella in the Solomon Islands
Result Japanese victory
 United States  Empire of Japan
Commanders and leaders
Frank R. Walker Matsuji Ijuin
6 destroyers 9 destroyers,
20 barges,
auxiliary ships
Casualties and losses
1 destroyer sunk,
2 destroyers heavily damaged,
64 killed
47 wounded
36 missing[1]
1 destroyer sunk,
138 killed[2]

The Battle of Vella Lavella (第二次ベララベラ海戦 Dainiji Berarabera kaisen?) was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II fought on the night of 6 October 1943, near the island of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.


After their defeats on New Georgia and in the Battle of Vella Gulf, the Japanese had evacuated their garrisons in the central Solomons. A staging post had been established at Horaniu on the north tip of Vella Lavella for the evacuation barges. In October 1943, 600 soldiers remained, and a force of nine destroyers—Fumizuki, Matsukaze, Yūnagi, Akigumo, Isokaze, Kazegumo, Yugumo, Shigure, Samidare—was dispatched under Rear Admiral Matsuji Ijuin to rescue them.


At 22:30, they spotted a U.S. force of three destroyers—Selfridge, Chevalier, and O'Bannon, commanded by Captain Frank R. Walker—approaching from Vella Gulf. A second division of three U.S. destroyers—Ralph Talbot, Taylor, and La Vallette—was also sailing up the west coast of Vella Lavella. Walker did not wait for his other three destroyers to come up but attacked immediately. Both sides launched torpedoes and opened fire at about 23:00.

Yugumo, first in the Japanese line, was hit several times, knocking out her steering, and she was finished off by a torpedo and sunk at about 23:10. However, one of her torpedoes hit Chevalier, detonating the forward magazine. O'Bannon then collided with the crippled Chevalier, and for some time the two ships were locked together. Selfridge attacked alone and was hit by a torpedo at 23:06 and disabled. All three ships were severely damaged, and reinforcements were still 15 minutes away. However, the rest of the Japanese turned away, having perhaps misidentified the three approaching destroyers as cruisers.


Shigure and Samidare off Bougainville just hours before the battle.

Chevalier could not be saved and was sunk around 03:00. The Japanese completed their evacuation mission, ending the second phase of Operation Cartwheel with the Allied capture of the central Solomons after a three-month campaign that cost the Allies six ships; the Japanese lost 16.


  1. Morison, Breaking the Bismarcks, p. 251; DANFS: Selfridge. Fifty-one died on Chevalier and 13 on Selfridge. 36 were wounded on Chevalier and 11 on Selfridge. All missing were from the Selfridge.
  2. Nevitt,, Yugumo.


  • Brown, David (1990). Warship Losses of World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-914-X. 
  • D'Albas, Andrieu (1965). Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II. Devin-Adair Pub. ISBN 0-8159-5302-X. 
  • Dull, Paul S. (1978). A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-097-1. 
  • Hara, Tameichi (1961). Japanese Destroyer Captain. New York & Toronto: Ballantine Books. ISBN 0-345-27894-1. 
  • Hone, Thomas C. (1981). "The Similarity of Past and Present Standoff Threats". pp. 113–116. ISSN 0041-798X. 
  • Kilpatrick, C. W. (1987). Naval Night Battles of the Solomons. Exposition Press. ISBN 0-682-40333-4. 
  • McGee, William L. (2002). "Occupation of Vella Lavella". The Solomons Campaigns, 1942-1943: From Guadalcanal to Bougainville--Pacific War Turning Point, Volume 2 (Amphibious Operations in the South Pacific in WWII). BMC Publications. ISBN 0-9701678-7-3. 
  • Morison, Samuel Eliot (1958). Breaking the Bismarcks Barrier, vol. 6 of History of United States Naval Operations in World War II. Castle Books. ISBN 0-7858-1307-1. 
  • Parkin, Robert Sinclair (1995). Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II. Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81069-7. 
  • Roscoe, Theodore (1953). United States Destroyer Operations in World War Two. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-726-7. 

External links

Coordinates: 7°30′S 156°14′E / 7.5°S 156.233°E / -7.5; 156.233

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