The Battle of the Coral Sea

(May 1942)


After Japan's devastating surprise attack on the U.S. naval fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii in December 1941, the U.S.S. Neosho was suddenly the navy's only operational tanker in the mid-Pacific.  During the next few months, the Neosho criss-crossed the ocean while refueling task forces and carrying vital diesel and aviation fuel to islands throughout the Pacific.  


In late April 1942, the Neosho was operating with the carrier Yorktown's fleet near Noumea, New Caledonia in the southwestern Pacific.  The Japanese forces, which had invaded New Guinea a short while earlier, were planning to complete their conquest of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.  If successful, Japan would effectively cut off supplies to Australia and New Zealand, possibly forcing those two countries out of the war.  To counter this threat, Admiral Chester Nimitz ordered the American carriers Yorktown and Lexington to thwart the Japanese.


The Battle of the Coral Sea lasted five days with both sides suffering moderate losses.   Certainly the most prominent American loss was the carrier U.S.S. Lexington, but perhaps the most dramatic story of the battle involved the tanker, U.S.S. Neosho and its stalwart escort, the destroyer U.S.S. Sims. 


This section describes the events of that battle.




Next Page:  Battle of the Coral Sea:  Summary


Table of Contents:

U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23)

U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23) Home Page


SECTION 1:  Background

Specifications of the U.S.S. Neosho

Photo Gallery of the U.S.S. Neosho

The Four U.S.S. Neoshos


SECTION 2:  Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941)


Prelude to War:  Conflict in the Far East

Bill Leu's Early Years

The U.S.S. Neosho at Pearl Harbor

Interview of Bill Leu:  The Attack on Pearl Harbor

U.S. Navy Action Report:  U.S.S. Neosho


SECTION 3:  Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942)

>  Introduction

The Battle of the Coral Sea:  Summary

Battle Action:  April 30 - May 4, 1942

Battle Action:  May 5 - May 7, 1942

Battle Action:  May 8, 1942

The Ordeal of the U.S.S. Neosho

May 7, 1942:  The Japanese Attack

May 8, 1942:  Waiting for Rescue

May 9, 1942:  Fading Hope

May 10, 1942:  Neosho Sighted

May 11, 1942:  Rescue

The Battle of the Coral Sea (continued)

List of Survivors and Casualties

U.S.S. Neosho:  Survivors and Casualties

U.S.S. Sims:  Survivors and Casualties

Interview of Bill Leu:  The Battle of the Coral Sea

U.S. Navy Action Reports:  Battle of the Coral Sea

Action Report of U.S.S. Neosho

Action Report of U.S.S. Sims

Action Report of U.S.S. Helm

Other Ships at the Battle of the Coral Sea

The U.S.S. Sims (Neosho's Escort)

The U.S.S. Henley (Neosho's Rescuer)

The U.S.S. Helm (Rescued Life Raft)

Battle of the Coral Sea Scrapbook

Honolulu Newspaper:  May 8, 1942

S.F. Examiner Article:  July 10, 1942


SECTION 4:  Aftermath


President Bush's 1991 Speech at Pearl Harbor

Seattle Times Article:  Bill Leu at Pearl Harbor

John S. Phillips, Captain of the U.S.S. Neosho

U.S.S. Neosho Veteran's Forum

Fireman Third Class, Bill Leu

Jack Rolston and the Tragic "Raft of 68"

Links, Sources and Further Information

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