The diary and picture that follows provided by the
USS St. Louis CL-49 Association

The Kula Gulf Diary was taken from the bridge log as recorded when a ship goes into battle.

Helena CL-50 (foreground)
St. Louis CL-49 (Middle)
Honolulu CL-48 (background)

Battle of Kula Gulf

USN vs. the Japs

Task Force 18: Cruisers: ST. LOUIS, HELENA, and HONOLULU
Jap Force Composition: Unknown Cruisers and Destroyers

Date: July 6, 1943 Time 0157 Commenced

2130 Now on lower end of N. Georgia Island. we are steaming at 28 knots and PBY "Blackcats" are scouting for the Japs for us.
0000 Sounded general quarters.
0145 Surface contact 17,000 Yards, on starboard bow
0157 ST. LOUIS opens fire with six inch main battery
0144 A large target.
0200 Explosion observed on target.
0201 Cease fire.
0202 Shifted targets during lull
0205 Standby to reverse course
0204 Fires can be seen on several targets.
0205 St. Louis now in lead, followed by HELENA, then HONOLULU .
0206 Torpedo wake astern
0207 Torpedo wake off starboard bow.
0208 Torpedo supposedly passed under us about Turret No. 3.
0209 Commence firing again
0210 First salvo is direct hit.
0211 One enemy ship blew up
0212 Shifted targets again.
0214 Cease fire and standby for another run
0215 Target speed is now zero
0218 HELENA opens fire off port beam
0219 30 rounds per turret left
0220 Another enemy ship has blown up.
0221 Commence firing again.
0222 Cease fire.
0223 Directors 1 and 2 have lost target, they think it has sunk
0224 HELENA and HONOLULU still firing, but we can’t find any more targets
0229 Another target on screen
0230 Jap ship Burning on our starboard side.
0232 Surface target, 17,000 yards, bearing 332 degrees relative.
0233 Several underwater explosions felt
0237 100 rounds of Powder left between Turrets 4 and 5.
0240 Target at 12, 000 yards open Fide with Star Shells.
0242 One of ours Destroyers is firing off our starboard Bow.
0245 Still Making 25 knots. Course is 232 degrees
0248 Unidentified target at 5000 yards off starboard Beam
0249 Radar No Six out of Commission
0251 Admiral Ainsworth orders Cease Fire.
0252 Heavy Underwater explosion Felt
0253 No more targets Available
0254 Speed now 28 knots. Course 290.
0255 HELENA is Dropping Back
0308 Heavy underwater explosion felt
0313 Two of our Tin "Cans" are being sent into the harbor to look for ships.
Can’t locate the HELENA .......
0319 Surface contact on screen off port Bow at 5000 Yards.
0323 Bow of a ship has been sighted, sticking straight up out of the water. It May be the HELENA.
0324 Standby to illuminate with searchlights, to look for the HELENA.
0326 HONOLULU is illuminating with searchlights now.
0327 Fifteen miles from N. Georgia Island.
0330 Searchlights have picked up object in water and report states "Sorry to report object sighted is CL-50 Helena
0331 Standby for 28 knots
0332 RADFORD is investigating what is believed to be the wreck of the HELENA.
0333 It is HELENA, she is believed to have been sunk by torpedoes
0334 No survivors picked up yet HELENA is thought to have sunk at 0308, when last large underwater explosion was felt.
0335 RADFORD and JENKINS standing by to pickup HELENA survivors.
0337 Official report Is HELENA sunk during action with enemy
0340 Speed now 28.5 knots.
0341 Destroyers report they are now in midst of survivors.
0345 Now retiring to Tulagi at 28 knots all ships in Jap task Force are believed sunk.
0348 Target Dead Ahead, and planes reported five miles astern.
0350 The "Cans" report they have picked up 400 survivors so far
0402 RADFORD reports a large ship 13,000 yards off her bow
0406 RADFORD is being attacked while picking up survivors stand by to make 180 degree turn to go back to protect the RADFORD.
0411 Two large ships coming out of Kula Gulf
0412 NICHOLAS is still picking up survivors both of the enemy ships have Opened Fire, and RADFORD seems to be in trouble.
0415 NICHOLAS has engaged the two ships and is launching a torpedo attack against them. we are closing slowly but are still to far away to help.
0417 The two ships are running, like I wish we would.
0432 Jap ships can’t be found so we are once again heading for Tulagi.
0445 All stations rest easy, RADFORD and JENKINS are still picking up survivors.
0515 Destroyers report they are finishing off the HELENA
0642 Light Ship.
0645 The screening "Cans" report O’BANNON has expended all but five Torpedoes, and NICHOLAS has expended all hers.
0700 Ninety friendly planes in the vicinity.
0730 RADFORD and JENKINS report that survivors were scattered and it took some time to get them on board.
0800 In the last 140 days we have expended 175 tons of ammo., 81,000 Gallons of Fuel Oil, firing 1100 rounds six inch, or forty three salvos of fifteen six Incher's
0830 Twenty enemy planes over Kula Gulf, headed this way.
0900 Thirty unidentified aircraft picked up on radar.
1027 RADFORD and JENKINS are now heavily covered by our aircraft.
1030 Passed two Destroyers dispatched to pick up remaining survivors.
1130 Dropped anchor in Tulagi Harbor.
1230 RADFORD and JENKINS coming in. JENKINS transfers over 300 men to HONOLULU and RADFORD transfers 438 men to St . Louis
1630 Underway for ESPIRITU with five "Cans" pass Task Force 19 which is probably headed for Munda.
July 7 At 0830, 78 more survivors were picked up on east side of Kula Gulf. also picked up the RADFORD'S and JENKINS Whaleboat Crews.
July 8 Tank Force 18 arrived in port At 0800, and received quite a hand. A Diving inspection reveals two or three dents in our hull from torpedoes which never exploded. Thank God
July 9 Relaxed on Aore Island with Beer and Artie Shaw 's band etc.
July 10 Task Force 18 underway Early
July 11 Passed through Skylark Channel at about 1600 , and was joined By the LEANDER. As we went through between Savo and Tulagi or Florida Island, headed up the Slot, Task Force 19 went between Savo and Guadalcanal headed toward Rendova on Till," Munda Side. We are Sill Looking for Japs, and they will bombard Munda.
2320 Star Shells on port bow
2335 Flare on port beam.
2339 Flashes of Gunfire can be seen on the other side of New Georgia
2342 Two planes sixteen miles away.
2343 Target on horizon bearing 060 degrees.
2357 Main battery train to starboard on probable air target.
July 12 At 0015 enemy plane approaching again
0026 Mt. No. 4 on single plane.
0040 Destroyer on Stbd. Qtr. signaling lots of "Bogies".
0042 Another target at 16,000 Yards
0043 Our transports entering Kula Gulf 0048 One plane 290 degrees four lights blinking low on water.
0055 Sky Control on plane at 020 degrees.
0110 Two floating lights close By.
0130 Reversed course now in vicinity of Kula Gulf Battle, will patrol this area until 0300.
0300 Now retiring Towards Tulagi. T.F. 19 is now bombarding Munda Airfield.
0330 More gunfire across island.
1130 Anchored and refueled in Tulagi.
1710 Underway up the "Alley" again. We are going to see if we can meet the Japs again tonight.
1945 Set Condition II
1955 Condition "Red" over Russell Islands.
2000 RUSSELL Islands under air attack. Witnessed the AA Fire, and a "Dog Fight" by the planes . Tracer fire and 5" bursts is all you can see. A plane went down in flames.