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 covering force of three heavy cruisers and two destroyers intending to shell Henderson Field 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. Heavy cruiser Salt Lake City (CA-25) and light cruiser Boise (CL-47) combine to cripple heavy cruiser Furutaka. American gunfire sinks Japanese DD Fubuki and damages heavy cruiser Aoba and destroyer Hatsuyuki. 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 2nd Infantry Division.
Other US Task Groups do not seem to have been engaged.