What is the significance of the Battle of the Coral Sea?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Battle of Coral Sea was fought in May 1942 during World War II between the Japanese and Allied forces of Americans and Australians. The four-day fight was the first air-sea battle in history, as it involved launching aircraft from carriers at sea. 

The battle started when the Japanese attempted to make an amphibious landing at Port Moresby in New Guinea and to thereby gain control of the Coral Sea. Allied interception of Japanese messages had led to their advance knowledge of the Japanese attack, and American aircraft carriers and other ships under the command of Rear Admiral Frank J. Fletcher were waiting for the Japanese. The Japanese also had aircraft carriers in the area, under the control of Vice Admiral Takagi Takao. The carriers of both sides were damaged during the fight, but the battle was an Allied victory, as the Japanese were then left without air cover for their ground assault on Port Moresby. They turned back in defeat. 

The battle was also important because it left Japanese forces diminished for the Battle of Midway, which occurred a month later and which resulted in an Allied victory. The Battle of Midway is regarded as the turning point in the war in the Pacific and the beginning of the path towards Allied victory in the region. 

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two major significances to this battle, which was fought in the South Pacific in May of 1942.

First, this was the first major military engagement in the war in the Pacific that the Americans and their allies did not lose.  It was really a draw, but the Allies had been losing everything else so it seemed like a win.

Second, it slowed the Japanese in their attempt to cut Australia off from Allied shipping.  If they had managed this, the US would not have had a staging area from which to start to attack towards Japan.

krishna-agrawala | Student

Battle of the Coral Sea was fought in May 1942. It was the first naval battle fought entirely by carrier-based aircraft.  Opposing Japanese and U.S. warships did not fire a single shot at an enemy ship. In this battle United States carrier-based aircraft defeated Japanese naval air units in the central Pacific Ocean.  Both sides launched more than 100 aeroplanes the battle.  This battle, along with Midway Island battle demonstrated the absolute dependence of a surface battle fleet on its air arm.

This battle took place when a Japanese invasion force sailing toward Australia's base at Port Moresby on the south coast of the island of New Guinea, was intercepted by American warships in the Coral Sea, northeast of Australia. In this battle neither side won a clear victory.  However,  it  temporarily checked the Japanese threat to Australia.