The Battle of the Coral Sea

(May 1942)


After Japan's devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S.S. Neosho was suddenly the U.S. Navy's only operational oiler in the mid-Pacific.  During the next few months, the Neosho criss-crossed the ocean, 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 oiler, U.S.S. Neosho


This section provides an overview of the Battle of the Coral Sea.  The next section (The U.S.S. Neosho at Coral Sea) describes the actions of the U.S.S. Neosho during the battle.



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)


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 U.S.S. Neosho at the Battle of the Coral Sea

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

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

Obituary of Captain John S. Phillips

U.S.S. Neosho Veteran's Forum

Links, Sources and Further Information

The current page is shown in bold.