Naval War College Review


Milan Vego


The ultimately unsuccessful Japanese attempt to capture Port Moresby in May 1942 is commonly referred to as the “battle of the Coral Sea.” Almost all fo- cus is usually given to the decisive tactical engagement between carrier forces. However, the Japanese effort was officially code-named Moresby Operation and was often called the “Port Moresby–Solomons operation.” In formal terms, it was on the Japanese side a major offensive and joint operation, planned and executed to achieve an op- erational objective—the capture of Port Moresby, on the Australian territory of New Guinea (now Papua New Guinea). For the Allies, in contrast, “the battle of the Coral Sea” was a major defensive and joint opera- tion aimed at preventing an enemy landing at Port Moresby. Both U.S. and Australian naval forces and land-based aircraft took part.