Friday, December 09, Read In the remote South Pacific, east of Papua New Guinea, and not far from Australia, lies a string of about nine hundred islands that make up the nation of Solomon Islands. Between and , this swath of ocean witnessed some of the fiercest fighting between the United States and the Empire of Japan during the Second World War. At that time, the islands were under British rule, but were occupied by the Japanese and it became strategically important for the Allied forces to recapture them if the war in the Pacific was to be won. The allies launched an offensive against the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy by swarming ashore the islands of Tulagi and Guadalcanal. The Battle of Guadalcanal became bloody as tremendous warfare waged on land, on sea and in the air. The Japanese suffered great losses: more 36, killed, missing or captured.
Why wartime wrecks are slicking time bombs
'Iron Bottom Sound' - Solomon Times Online
Placid, blue-green Savo Sound takes its name from the South Pacific outcropping it surrounds, four-mile-long Savo Island, in the tail end of the Solomon Islands. Savo Sound wasn't always peaceful. This body of water also goes by another name: Ironbottom Sound, a reminder of the ships and planes strewn across the seafloor during the fierce struggle for nearby Guadalcanal during World War II. The iron started piling up in the predawn hours of Sunday, August 9, In less than one hour, four Allied ships, together with more than 1, Allied and Japanese sailors, perished in what became known as the First Battle of Savo Island. The naval forces of the United States and her allies had come to the Solomons that summer on important business: ending Japanese control of the islands and their important waterways.
'Iron Bottom Sound'
For some, the name still conjures up memories of pain, bravery, and brushes with death. Today, however, Iron Bottom Sound is best known as a mecca for scuba divers, who can explore the dozens of war wrecks that litter its bottom. From fighter planes and tanks, to cargo ships and destroyers, Iron Bottom Sound has become a kind of underwater museum. Major wrecks include the American cruiser Quincy, the Australian heavy cruiser Canberra, the Japanese aircraft carrier Kinugasa, and the battleship Kirishima. While most are in water too deep to be visited by recreational divers, more accessible wrecks have helped make the Solomon Islands, where Iron Bottom Sound is located, a world-famous destination for divers.
When the Americans landed a few months later, the Japanese set out to reinforce their troops by sea. The struggle for naval supremacy that followed was confused and bloody, but by February the battle was over and the Japanese had evacuated their remaining troops. The battle has a hidden legacy, however. Before the war, the stretch of water north of Guadalcanal was called Sealark Sound.