Battle of the Komandorski Islands
When dawn broke on the morning of March 26, the American task force was east of the International Date Line, (so it was actually March 27) 180 miles west of Attu and a hundred miles south of the Russian Komandorski Islands, sweeping north by east, strung out in a scouting line six miles long. Destroyer Coghlan led, McMorris’ flagship, the old light cruiser Richmond followed; then came destroyers Bailey, Dale, heavy cruiser Salt Lake City, recently repaired from damage inflicted at Cape Esperance and finally destroyer Monaghan. McMorris was expecting, in his own words, a “Roman Holiday.”
The Battle of the Komandorski Islands was one of the most unusual engagements of World War II. It was a naval battle which took place on 27 March 1943 in the North Pacific area of the Pacific Ocean, near the Komandorski Islands.
When the United States became aware of Japanese plans to send a supply convoy to garrisons on the Aleutian Islands, U.S. Navy ships commanded by Rear Admiral Charles McMorris were dispatched to intercept. The U.S. fleet consisted of the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City, the old light cruiser Richmond and the destroyers Coghlan, Bailey, Dale and Monaghan.
Unknown to the Americans, the Japanese had chosen to escort their convoy with two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and four destroyers commanded by Vice Admiral Boshiro Hosogaya. On the morning of 27 March, the Japanese convoy was intercepted by the U.S. picket line and combat ensued. Because of the remote location of the battle and chance encounter on open ocean, neither fleet had air or submarine assistance, making this one of the few engagements exclusively between surface ships in the Pacific Theatre and one of the last pure gunnery duels in naval history.