The Battle of Vella Lavella was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II fought on the night of October 6, 1943 near the island of Vella Lavella in the Solomon Islands.
After their defeat in the battle of Vella Gulf, the Japanese had been evacuated their garrisons in the Eastern Solomons. A staging post had been established at Horaniu on the north tip of Vella Lavella for the evacuation barges. In October 1943 six hundred soldiers remained and a force of nine destroyers (Fumitsuki , Matsukaze , Yunagi , Akigumo , Isokaze , Kazegumo , Yugumo , Shigure , Samidare ) was dispatched under Rear-Admiral Matsuji Ijuin to rescue them.
At 22:30 they spotted an American force of three destroyers (Selfridge , Chevalier, O'Bannon) commanded by Captain Frank R. Walker. Walker did not wait for his other three destroyers (Ralph Talbot, Taylor, La Vallette) to come up but attacked immediately. Both sides launched torpedoes and opened fire at about 23:00.
Yugumo, first in the Japanese line, was hit a number of times, knocking out her steering, and she was finished off by a torpedo, sinking at about 23:10. However, one of her torpedoes hit the Chevalier, detonating the forward magazine. O'Bannon then collided with the crippled Chevalier and for some time the two ships were locked together. Another torpedo hit Selfridge at 23:06 and disabled her. With all three ships severely damaged and reinforcements still fifteen minutes away things might have gone very badly for the Americans if the rest of the Japanese had not turned away, having perhaps misidentified the three approaching destroyers as cruisers.
The Chevalier could not be saved, and was sunk around 03:00. The Japanese completed their evacuation mission.