At dawn on Friday, November 13, 1942, burning, wrecked ships littered the waters of Guadalcanal. At a cost of five ships and thousands of lives, the U.S. Navy had blunted Japan's drive to break the Guadalcanal stalemate.
Despite the strategic defeat and loss of the battleship Hiei, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander of Japan's Combined Fleet, was determined to try again to break the deadlock and win the war.
Three months of bitter air-ground-sea action in the Solomon Islands had resulted in a stalemate. Both the Americans and the Japanese were short of ships. Their troops on Guadalcanal, the island prize of the campaign, were exhausted. Yamamoto was now taking the offensive, and his battleships and destroyers were a powerful force.