Invasion of Leyte Oct 25, 1944

The last major naval Battle of the Pacific took part off Leyte after the American landing there. The Japanese divided there forces into three groups. The first blood was drawn by American submarines Darter and Dace which sank two Japanese cruisers and reported the positions of the Japanese ships. An air battle ensued which resulted in the sinking of the light carrier Princeton. The American sank the super battleship Musashi.

The last engagement between battleships then ensued. A Japanese force of two battleships and cruisers and destroyers attempted to penetrate the Leyete Gulf through the Surigao Straits. Awaiting them were two forces of destroyers, a force of cruisers and six battleships. In one of the most one sided victories of the American Navy the Japanese ships were hit first by the destroyers, then by the cruisers, then by the battleships, which were all perfectly positioned and mostly equipped with advance fire control radar. The two battleships were soon sunk, as well as three destroyers, other then damage to one destroyer the US force suffered no damage.

The second stage of the battle occurred when a Japanese force led by admiral Kurita of battleships and cruisers came upon a force of escort carriers of task force Tafy 3 commanded by Rear Admiral AF Sprague, off Samar. The escort carriers were hit repeatedly by the guns of the Japanese force. However, daring attacks by three American destroyers, as well as desperate attacks by all of the carriers planes succeeded in driving off the superior Japanese force. The Americans lost only the escort carriers Gambier Bay and St Lo. Two destroyers and a destroyer escort that had gallantly attacked the Japanese battleships were also lost. The invasion fleet however, was safe.

The final act in the battle occurred when US aircraft attacked the Northern Japanese force. Three Japanese carriers were sunk as well as a cruiser and destroyer. Most of the remaining vessels were heavily damaged.