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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 to the south and Florida Island Group to the north and Savo Island to the west. 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 (August 9, 1942), Battle of Cape Esperance (Second Battle of Savo Island) (October 11–12, 1942) Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 12-15, 1942), Second Naval Battle of Guadalcanal (November 14-15, 1942), Battle of Tassafaronga (November 30, 1942) and Operation Ke (February 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 4am
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
Thanks to Ewan Stevenson and Neil Yates / Tulagi Dive for additional information

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Last Updated
October 26, 2017

 

Map
Map
Iron Bottom Sound


Map
Map
Nov 30, 1942
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