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USS Enterprise CV-6
The Most Decorated Ship of the Second World War

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Damage Report: 26 October 1942

The Battle of Santa Cruz took place on 26 October 1942, without contact being made at any time between surface ships of the opposing forces. During the course of the battle, planes from the Japanese carriers made at least eight separate attacks on the U.S. ships, damaging both carriers, the battleship, one light cruiser and two destroyers, at a cost of about 100 planes. Hornet CV-8 and Porter DD-356 were so extensively damaged that they were ordered abandoned and sunk by U.S. forces. Enterprise CV-6 was damaged by two bomb hits and two near misses. Three waves of aircraft from Hornet and Enterprise succeeded in damaging two of the Japanese carriers, a heavy cruiser and two destroyers, with the loss of 74 planes.


Between 11:15 and 11:20, Enterprise was attacked by 24 dive bombers which succeeded in making two direct hits and a damaging near miss. At 12:21, some 20 dive bombers attacked scoring a second near miss.

The first near miss detonated about 8 feet below the waterline, 10 feet outboard the starboard shell. The shell was opened by rivet failure, and tanks were opened to the sea. Plating was deflected inward up to 18 inches over an area about 48 feet by 17 feet between frames 123 and 135.

The second near miss detonated about 17 feet below the waterline and 8 feet outboard the starboard shell. Shell plating was deflected inward as much as 2-1/2 feet over a roughly elliptical area about 48 feet by 25 feet between frames 23 and 35. All frames, floors and bulkheads in way of deflected plating were bent or buckled and frames 30, 31 and 34 were broken.

Flight Deck Forward

The first bomb struck the flight deck at frame 4, port side, passed down and out through the ship's side and detonated in the air off the port bow. The second bomb struck at frame 44-1/2 on the port side of the flight deck and broke up below, part detonating on the hangar deck and part on the third deck in the forward repair party station.

Main Deck Forward

The first bomb detonated high order about 20 feet below the forecastle deck, close to the port bow. Blast effect on the ship was negligible, but the fragment attack was heavy. About 160 fragment holes were made varying in diameter from 1/4 inch to 12 inches, the majority being small.

The second bomb, released from approximately 1500 feet in a 45° dive, left a 14-inch diameter hole in the flight deck before striking the transverse at frame 43 and breaking in two. The conical tail section sheared away from the cylindrical body and hit the hangar deck 3 feet to starboard of the centerline at frame 39, tearing a 14-inch by 16-inch hole, and detonated. The nose and body section pierced the hangar deck on the centerline at frame 40-1/2, making a hole about 14 inches by 37-1/2 inches.

Second Deck Forward

The second bomb passed through hatch 2-39 in A-208-1L, down to hatch 3-39 at the Repair II Station in compartment A-306-L where it detonated. On the second deck, bulkhead 38 was deflected forward and bulkhead 43 aft. The second deck was deflected upward unevenly a distance of 2 to 5 inches above A-306-L and A-307-1L, pulling up stanchions and tearing holes in the third deck. The hangar deck was deflected upward symmetrically between frames 37 and 54 to a maximum of 14 inches.

Third Deck Forward

The detonation of the main portion of the bomb cause extensive blast damage on the third deck. Staterooms and Repair II locker in A-306-L were demolished. Forty men manning the repair station and battle dressing station were killed by the blast. Officers' washroom in A-307-2L and all staterooms in A-307-1L were wrecked. Lightly constructed bulkheads of ammunition handling rooms and their doors were demolished. Fragments penetrated the starboard bulkhead of No. 1 elevator trunk, slightly gouging and burring the elevator plungers.

Diagrams derived from Bureau of Ships, Navy Department, blueprints provided courtesy Arnold Olson, Public Affairs Officer, USS Enterprise CV-6 Association. Narrative derived from War Damage Report No. 59, "U.S.S. Enterprise (CV6) War History", Bureau of Ships, Navy Department.

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