Blackett Strait

Blackett Strait is a waterway in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands. It lies between the islands of Kolombangara to the north, and Arundel Island (Kohinggo) to the south. It connects Vella Gulf to the west with Kula Gulf to the east.

Battle of Blackett Strait

During the Solomon Islands campaign in World War II, the Battle of Blackett Strait was fought here between the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy on the night of 5–6 March 1943.[1]


Another engagement occurred in Blackett Strait when a force of 15 PT boats, including LTJG John F. Kennedy's PT-109 were sent to intercept the "Tokyo Express" supply convoy on 2 August. In what National Geographic called a "poorly planned and badly coordinated" attack, 15 boats with 60 available torpedoes went into action. However, of the 30 torpedoes fired by PT boats from four sections, not a single hit was scored.[2]

In the battle, only four PT boats (the section leaders) had radar, and they were ordered to return to base after firing their torpedoes on radar bearings. When they left, the remaining boats were virtually blind and without verbal orders, thus leading to more confusion.

Patrolling just after the section leader had departed for home, PT-109 was run down on a dark moonless night by the Japanese destroyer Amagiri, returning from the supply mission.[3] The PT boat had her engines at idle to hide her wake from seaplanes.[4] Conflicting statements have been made as to whether the destroyer captain spotted and steered towards the boat. Members of the destroyer crew believed the collision was not an accident, though other reports suggest Amagiri's captain never realized what happened till after the fact.[5] The captain of PT-109 was future U.S. President John F. Kennedy. His crew was assumed lost by the U.S. Navy, but were found later by Solomon Islander scouts Biuku Gasa and Eroni Kumana in a dugout canoe.


  1. Nevitt, Murasame & Minegumo.
  2. Donovan, Robert J. PT-109: John F. Kennedy in WW II, pp. 95-99.
  3. Donovan, Robert J. PT-109: John F. Kennedy in WW II, pp. 73, 100-107.
  4. Donovan, Robert J. PT-109: John F. Kennedy in WW II, pp. 60-61, 100.
  5. Donovan, Robert J. PT-109: John F. Kennedy in WW II, pp. 105, 108-109.

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