The failure to deliver to Guadalcanal most of the troops and supplies in the convoy prevented the Japanese from launching another offensive to retake Henderson Field. Thereafter, the Imperial Navy was only able to deliver subsistence supplies and a few replacement troops to Japanese Army forces on Guadalcanal. Because of the continuing threat from Allied aircraft based at Henderson Field, plus nearby U.S. aircraft carriers, the Japanese had to continue to rely on Tokyo Express warship deliveries to their forces on Guadalcanal. However, these supplies and replacements were not enough to sustain Japanese troops on the island, who — by 7 December 1942 — were losing about 50 men each day from malnutrition, disease, and Allied ground or air attacks. On 12 December, the Japanese Navy proposed that Guadalcanal be abandoned. Despite initial opposition from Japanese Army leaders, who still hoped that Guadalcanal could eventually be retaken from the Allies, Japan's Imperial General Headquarters—with approval from the Emperor—agreed on 31 December to the evacuation of all Japanese forces from the island and establishment of a new line of defense for the Solomons on New Georgia.
Thus, the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal was the last major attempt by the Japanese to seize control of the seas around Guadalcanal or to retake the island. In contrast, the U.S. Navy was thereafter able to resupply the U.S. forces at Guadalcanal at will, including the delivery of two fresh divisions by late December 1942. The inability to neutralize Henderson Field doomed the Japanese effort to successfully combat the Allied conquest of Guadalcanal. The last Japanese resistance in the Guadalcanal campaign ended on 9 February 1943, with the successful evacuation of most of the surviving Japanese troops from the island by the Japanese Navy in Operation Ke. Building on their success at Guadalcanal and elsewhere, the Allies continued their campaign against Japan, ultimately culminating in Japan's defeat and the end of World War II. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, upon learning of the results of the battle commented, "It would seem that the turning point in this war has at last been reached."
Historian Eric Hammel sums up the significance of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal this way:
On November 12, 1942, the (Japanese) Imperial Navy had the better ships and the better tactics. After November 15, 1942, its leaders lost heart and it lacked the strategic depth to face the burgeoning U.S. Navy and its vastly improving weapons and tactics. The Japanese never got better while, after November 1942, the U.S. Navy never stopped getting better.
General Alexander Vandegrift, the commander of the troops on Guadalcanal, paid tribute to the sailors who fought the battle:
We believe the enemy has undoubtedly suffered a crushing defeat. We thank Admiral Kinkaid for his intervention yesterday. We thank Lee for his sturdy effort last night. Our own aircraft has been grand in its relentless hammering of the foe. All those efforts are appreciated but our greatest homage goes to Callaghan, Scott and their men who with magnificent courage against seemingly hopeless odds drove back the first hostile attack and paved the way for the success to follow. To them the men of Cactus lift their battered helmets in deepest admiration.
Read more about this topic: Naval Battle Of Guadalcanal
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- Significant figures or significant digits, the precision of a numerical value
- Statistical significance, the extent to which a result is unlikely to be due to chance alone
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