After the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Halsey had to reshuffle elements of the fleet to both keep a USN presence near Guadalcanal and protect the damaged Enterprise from further attack. This former would be critical in keeping Tokyo Express runs below the desired level; the latter would hamper the use of the battleships for another two weeks. On 28 October, Admiral Scott shifted his flag from USS San Francisco to USS Atlanta (CL-51), and that same day departed for Guadalcanal with 4 destroyers. She is shown here refueling from CA-38 two weeks earlier on the 16th.
Atlanta and her escorts opened fire on the coastline early in the morning of 30 October, with fire directed by a Marine liason and an Airacobra pilot. After several hours of paint-melting bombardment, she returned to Espiritu Santo for escort duty; USS Helena and USS San Francisco were similarly detached from TF 64 to be escorts, and on the 2nd of November, US troops and artillery were successfully put ashore as the spearhead of a concerted reinforcement effort. The Japanese landed their own reinforcements that night, and would do so again on the 3rd. On the 4th, Helena, USS Sterett (DD-407) and San Francisco, now carrying RAdm Dan Callaghan, also pounded the island’s coast.
The Japanese took note of the enhanced USN presence, sending smaller runs to Guadalcanal during the 1st week of November. A large air attack on the 5th was foiled by weather, but that night the Express was finally able to make a large run South; 15 destroyers and the light cruiser Tenryū successfully reached their destinations in the dark. The next day, an American auxiliary transport was torpedoed and beached, while PT boats harassed and damaged a pair of destroyers in the morning hours. A transport force to the North was attacked by Cactus aircraft as well; operations were ramping up. On the 8th, Admiral Halsey himself visited Guadalcanal while reports listed heavy transport activity up the Slot; he was witness to a bombardment by an IJN destroyer at night, driven off by PTs. That same day, Admiral Yamamoto decided on a massive reinforcement operation, and US troops landed in North Africa.