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    Iron Bottom Sound  Solomon Islands
Location
Iron Bottom Sound was American nickname for the body of water in the Solomon Islands between Guadalcanal in Guadalcanal Province to the south and Florida Island Group (Florida Islands) to the north and Savo Island to the west in Central Province. On average, the depth of Iron Bottom Sound is roughly 1,967 feet / 600 meters.

The eastern end of Iron Bottom Sound is comprised of coral reefs that are divided into three channels: Furthest to the south was Lengo Channel nearest to Taivu Point on Guadalcanal. In the center was Sealark Channel and furthest to the north was Ngello Channel nearest to Florida Island. Further to the east are the Indispensable Strait and Malaita Province. The western end includes Savo Island and Cape Esperence on Guadalcanal.

Wartime History
Dubbed "Iron Bottom Sound" due to the number of vessels sunk during the Guadalcanal campaign during the Battle of Savo Island (First Battle of Savo Island) (August 8-9, 1942), Battle of Cape Esperance (Second Battle of Savo Island) (October 11–12, 1942), Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (Third Battle of the Solomon Sea) (first phase November 13, 1942 / second phase November 14-15, 1942), Battle of Tassafaronga (Battle of Lunga Point/Fourth Battle of Savo Island) (November 30, 1942) and Operation Ke (January 14, 1943 – February 7, 1943) and Operation I-Go (April 7, 1943). The wartime coordinates for many of the ships sunk in Iron Bottom Sound are only approximate because they sank at night or the positions were not accurately recorded.

Ships sunk Iron Bottom Sound
Kikuzuki (Kikitsku) damaged May 4, 1942 sunk May 5, 1942 salvaged 1943.
USS George F. Elliott (AP-13) sunk August 8, 1942.
USS Vincennes (CA-44) sunk August 9, 1942 Battle of Savo Island.
USS Quincy (CA-39) sunk August 9, 1942 Battle of Savo Island.
USS Astoria (CA-34) sunk August 9, 1942 Battle of Savo Island.
USS Quincy (CA-39) sunk August 9, 1942 Battle of Savo Island.
HMAS Canberra (D33) damaged August 9, 1942 at 1:45am Battle of Savo Island scuttled 8:00am.
USS Blue (DD-387) sunk August 22, 1942.
USS Colhoun (APD-2) sunk August 30, 1942.
USS Little (APD-4) sunk September 5, 1942.
USS Gregory (APD-3) sunk September 5, 1942.
Fubuki sunk October 11, 1942 Battle of Cape Esperance (Second Battle of Savo Island).
USS Duncan (DD-485) sunk October 12, 1942.
Sasako Maru sunk October 15, 1942.
Azumasan Maru (Deep Ruinin Wreck) sunk October 15, 1942.
Kyusyu Maru (Ruinin Wreck)
sunk October 15, 1942.
USS Seminole (AT-65) sunk October 25, 1942.
USS Atlanta (CL-51) sunk November 13, 1942 at 8:15am Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Akatsuki sunk sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Barton (DD-599) sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Monssen (DD-436) sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Barton (DD-599) sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Cushing (DD-376) sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Laffey (DD-459) sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Yūdachi sunk November 13, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Hiei sunk November 14, 1942 Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
USS Preston (DD-379) sunk November 14, 1942.
USS Walke (DD-416) sunk November 15, 1942.
Ayanami sunk November 15, 1942 Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Kirishima sunk November 15, 1942 following Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Hirokawa Maru (Bonegi 1) sunk November 15, 1942.
Kinugawa Maru (Bonegi 2) sunk November 15, 1942.
Yamaura Maru sunk November 15, 1942.
Yamazuki Maru sunk November 15, 1942.
USS Minneapolis (CA-36) damaged Battle of Tassafaronga November 30, 1942 bow removed.
Takanami sunk December 1, 1942 Battle of Tassafaronga.
USS Northampton (CA-26) sunk December 1, 1942 Battle of Tassafaronga.
PT-44  sunk December 12, 1942 by gunfire from Kawakaze and Suzukaze.
Teruzuki sunk December 12, 1942.
PT-112  sunk January 11, 1943 by destroyers Hatsukaze and Tokitsukaze.
Japanese submarine I-1 sunk January 29, 1943.
USS De Haven (DD-469) sunk February 1, 1943.
PT-37 sunk February 1, 1943.
PT-111  sunk February 1, 1943 by destroyer Kawakaze.
PT-123  sunk February 1, 1943 by F1M2 Pete.
Makigumo damaged by a mine February 1, 1943 during Operation Ke then scuttled off Savo.
HMNZS Moa (T233) sunk April 7, 1943 by Japanese aircraft Operation I-Go.
USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) sunk April 7, 1943 at 9:35pm during Operation I-Go.
USS Kanawha (AO-1) damaged April 7, 1943 during Operation I-Go sunk April 8, 1943 4:00am.
USS Erskine Phelps (YON-147) damaged April 7, 1943 during Operation I-Go afterwards refloated.
USS John Penn (APA-23) sunk August 13, 1943 by Japanese B5N2 Kate torpedo bombers.
USS Serpens (AK-97) sunk January 29, 1945 due to accidental explosion.

Aircraft crashed or ditched Iron Bottom Sound
R4D-1 Dakota Bureau Number 01648 crashed November 12 or 13, 1942.
B-17E "Bessie The Jap Basher" 41-2420 pilot Norton ditched September 24, 1942, 7 missing.
SBD Dauntelsss ditched or crashed upside down discovered.

Shipwrecks
Only a few of the shipwrecks in Iron Bottom Sound have been located since the 1990s. During a 1991-1992 expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard located and used a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) to record video footage included in National Geographic: The Lost Fleet of Guadalcanal (1993).

Only a few shipwrecks are accessible by experienced SCUBA divers and technical divers. Tulagi Dive is one of the only technical dive operators in the area. This includes the shipwrecks off the north coast of Guadalcanal including Sasako Maru at 197' / 60m, Azumasan Maru (Deep Ruinin Wreck) at 130'-205' / 40-62m, Kyūsyū Maru (Ruinin Wreck) at 16'-151' / 5-46m, Hirokawa Maru (Bonegi 1) at 180' / 55m, Kinugawa Maru (Bonegi 2) at 88.6' / 27m, Yamazuki Maru at 65.6' / 20m, Yamaura Maru, Japanese submarine I-1 at 16-98' / 5-30m. USS Seminole (AT-65) at 110' / 33.5m but only dived during the dry season. Other shipwrecks are only suitable for experienced technical divers including USS Atlanta (CL-51) at 430' / 131m, USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) at 240' / 70m.

References
Pacific Island Monthly - December 1997 "Solomon Islands Call on Japan to remove war relics on Guadalcanal Oil leaks."
Thanks to Ewan Stevenson and Neil Yates / Tulagi Dive for additional information

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Last Updated
August 7, 2021

 

Map
Map
Nov 30, 1942

Map
Map
Iron Bottom Sound
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