Photo Log of the March 9, 2008, Visit to Guadalcanal by the M/S Statendam
Google Earth Images with GPS Tracks from Noumea to Guadalcanal and Tour of Guadalcanal (turquoise)
After a 3 night and 2 day sail from Noumea, New Caledonia, the ship arrived at Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands.
Guadalcanal is the island where Allied forces arrested Japanese expansion into the southwest Pacific in late 1942. Costly land and naval battles here resulted in heavy losses for both sides, but in the end the Japanese retreated.

Docked at Honiara, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands
The “locals”, decked out in war paint, performed dockside. They used pan flutes of various sizes.
Click on the photo to view a Windows Media Player (.wmv) video of the performance (2.6 MB file).
Click here to view an Apple Quicktime (.mov) version of the video (4.1 MB file).

Honiara is the capitol city of the Solomon Islands.  It was established after WW2 and replaced Tulagi as capitol.

I took many digipics from the ship while the weather was clear.  This view is looking south from the ship.  The main street of Honiara is in the foreground.  The conical shaped building serves as the capitol building of the Solomon Islands.

Guadalcanal Coastline and Iron Bottom Sound
Looking northwest from Honiara Harbor across the Solomon Sea.  Cape Esperance is at the far right.  Savo Island is just outside this photo to the right.  The Solomon Sea immediately north of Guadalcanal is known as "Iron Bottom Sound" because of all the ships sunk here.  Important naval battles fought in these waters include the Battle of Savo Island, the Battle of Cape Esperance, the First and Second Naval Battles of Guadalcanal, and the Battle of Tassafaronga.
Click here for a map and information on these battles. 
Inter Island Ships at Honiara
There were several small ships in the harbor which transport people and goods between the islands. Very colorful.


Guadalcanal American Memorial
The WW2 History Tour began at 12:30 PM. Vehicle was a 10 passenger Toyota van. Guide and driver both spoke fair English.
 First stop was the Guadalcanal American Memorial located on a hill (see map in 1st frame). It has granite walls inscribed with accounts of the battles.  The walls are oriented to point at the locations of the battles. 

Memorial Wall
This wall described various engagements including the 1st Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.  The wall is pointed at Iron Bottom Sound between Tulagi and Savo Island.

Memorial Wall Regarding the 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal
This wall described the 2nd Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, which involved the US battleships Washington and South Dakota.

Savo Island from the Memorial

A 3x teleview which includes the areas of Iron Bottom Sound on which most of the naval battles occurred.
Note the tropical vegetation and houses in the residential area in the foreground.

Guadalcanal Residents
En route to and from the Memorial we drove thru residential areas. The "locals" were very friendly and most waved enthusiastically. They are Melanesians with black or dark brown skin and wooly hair. Many people about, lots of kids. Some of the children had fairly blonde hair. Houses were generally on stilts. Vegetarian was lush tropical. 

Bloody (Edson's) Ridge

Looking north towards Henderson Field.
This is where outnumbered US Marines repulsed a night time charge by 3000 Japanese trying to take Henderson Field, about a mile distant.  The charge was essentially from the lower left.  Click the photo to view a map.
Click here for a USMC history of the Guadalcanal campaign.  Scroll to page 25 for Bloody Ridge.
For an animated account of battle, click here.

Bloody (Edson's) Ridge
Looking south (inland).  This is the direction from which the Japanese attack came.
There is a small concrete monument on the ridge, but the bronze plaque was missing.  Local people came to the ridge to try and sell war relics, such as mess ware, badges, shell casings, etc.
The road to the ridge was rough dirt.  It crossed private property, and the owners expected a toll to be paid.
Henderson Field
This airfield was under construction by the Japanese when it was taken by US Marines in August, 1942.  US Seabees completed the airfield and it was used by Allied planes in extensive combat and transport operations to great effect.  Possession of the airfield was the goal of both sides in the Guadalcanal campaign.

The remains of the US WW2 control tower are visible in the right center of the photo.

Henderson Field
Today Henderson Field is also known as Honiara International Airport.  We were visiting the Terminal Building when an intense thunderstorm moved over the area. After discussion with the guide we decided to skip the visit to a market place and return to the ship. We did drive by the market, which looked very interesting. Folks there were huddled under the palm frond shelters. We saw flooded soccer fields with play continuing. Several of the roads were flooded and we had to find detours. Back at the ship the vans lined up and waited until we could step directly out of the van onto the gangway, which was very considerate of the tour guides.
Iron Bottom Sound
Cape Esperance at the left, Savo Island near the center.


Departing Honiara, Guadalcanal
The ship departed at 5:00 PM in the rain and headed for Savo Island.

Savo Island

A mile off shore the ship slowed to 4 kts and cruised by Savo Island.  A memorial ceremony was held, inside because of the weather.  A bugler played taps and wreathes and flowers were tossed into the ocean from the Promenade. The ship then did traditional S-turns at 5 kts and sounded its horn to honor the fallen.

We then began our sail to Rabaul up the “Slot” between islands on the route the "Tokyo Express" used to resupply Guadalcanal.

All in all, it was a very good visit.