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Home > Family History > USS Neosho > The Battle of the Coral Sea



The Battle of the Coral Sea

(May 1942)




After Japan's surprise attack at Pearl Harbor, 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, 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 for five days with both sides suffering moderate losses.   Certainly the most prominent American loss was the carrier U.S.S. Lexington.  Probably the most dramatic story of the battle, though, involved the oiler U.S.S. Neosho


This section describes the battle.  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


Specifications of the U.S.S. Neosho

The Four U.S.S. Neoshos


Photo Gallery of the U.S.S. Neosho


The Pearl Harbor Attack  (December 7, 1941)

Prelude to War:  Conflict in the Far East

Bill Leu's Early Years

The U.S.S. Neosho at Pearl Harbor

Bill Leu Interview:  Pearl Harbor Attack

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


The 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 Coral Sea

May 7, 1942:  The Attack

May 8, 1942:  Waiting For Rescue

May 9, 1942:  Fading Hope

May 10, 1942:  Neosho Sighted

May 11, 1942:  Rescue

List of Survivors & Casualties

The Battle of the Coral Sea  (May 1942 - cont.)

Bill Leu Interview:  Battle of the Coral Sea

U.S. Navy Action Reports:  Coral Sea

Action Report of the U.S.S. Neosho

Action Report of the U.S.S. Sims

U.S.S. Helm Report

Other Ships at 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)

Coral Sea Scrapbook

S.F. Examiner Article, July 10, 1942



President Bush's Speech at Pearl Harbor

Seattle Times:  Bill Leu at Pearl Harbor

Obituary of Captain John S. Phillips


U.S.S. Neosho Veteran's Forum


Sources & Further Information

The current page is shown in bold.