Scout aircraft sighted a Tokyo Express and the task force sailed around the western end of Guadalcanal to block the entrance to Savo Sound. When the enemy escort/bombardment force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers was sighted by radar, Scott reversed course to cross the enemy's "T" leaving the van destroyers in the rear racing to catch up. They were passing between the Japanese and American task forces when both fleets opened fire. The destroyers made an unsuccessful torpedo run and the American cruisers temporally held fire to identify the destroyers. The Japanese reversed course exposing each ship to fire as it turned. A Japanese heavy cruiser, Furutaka, and destroyer, Fubuki were sunk and another CA and DD were damaged. Duncan (DD-485) was disabled by enemy fire and further damaged by friendly fire and was abandoned just before she blew-up. Salt Lake City, Boise and Farenholt (DD-491) were damaged.
Meanwhile that night, a Japanese transport force formed around seaplane carriers Chitose and Nisshin and six destroyers, reached Tassafaronga, Guadalcanal, to disembark elements of the Japanese Army's 2d Infantry Division.
Other U.S. Task Groups do not seem to have been engaged. Two Japanese rescue destroyers, Murakumo and Natsugumo were sunk by Henderson aircraft when daylight arrived.
Seaplane carriers were a ship type the USN did not have. Each could carry 24 aircraft launched by catapult and hoisted back aboard. The 14 ships of this type were intended for support of troop landings. After the island phase of the war, survivors were converted to light carriers.