The Battle of Sunda Strait
was a naval battle
which occurred during World War II
. On the night of February 28 –
March 1, 1942, the United States cruiser
Australian cruiser HMAS
faced a major Imperial Japanese Navy
force. After a fierce battle of several hours duration, both
ships were sunk. Five
Japanese ships were sunk by friendly
, of which two were refloated.
February 1942, Japanese amphibious
forces were preparing to invade Java, in the
February 27, the main American-British-Dutch-Australian
Command (ABDACOM) naval force, under Admiral Karel Doorman, sailed northeast from Surabaya to intercept
a Japanese invasion fleet.
The ABDA force consisted of two
, including USS Houston
Albert H. Rooks
), three light
), and nine destroyers. Only six of the nine 8-inch guns
were operable, since her aft turret had been
knocked out in an earlier air attack.
force engaged the Japanese force in the Java Sea.
Allied ships were all sunk or dispersed. Houston and
Perth both retreated to Tanjung
Priok, Java, the main port of Batavia (later Jakarta), where they
arrived at 13:30 on February 28.
February 28, Houston and Perth received orders to
sail through Sunda
Strait to Tjilatjap, on the south coast of Java.
, which was to accompanied them, was not ready
and remained in Tanjung Priok. Houston
left at 19:00, while Evertsen
followed an hour later.
Waller, who had seniority over Rooks, was in command. The only
ships they expected to encounter were Australian corvettes
on patrol in and around the strait.
By chance, just after 22:00, the IJA 16th Army
's Western Java Invasion
Convoy — over 50 transports,and including the Army's commander, Lt
Imamura — was entering Bantam Bay, near the northwest tip of Java.
Japanese troop transports were escorted by the 5th Destroyer
Flotilla, led by Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara
and the 7th Cruiser
Squadron, under R. Adm. Takeo Kurita
light cruiser Natori, with the destroyers
Hatakaze, Asakaze, Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki, Shirakumo, and Murakumo were closest to the convoy.
To the north was
V. Adm. Takeo Kurita's
7th Cruiser Squadron; its 2nd Division, the cruisers Mogami and Mikuma, with the destroyer
Shikinami flanked the bay to the north.
further north, though not involved in the action, was the aircraft
with the 1st Division of the 7th Cruiser Squadron — Suzuya and Kumano — along with the
seaplane carrier Chiyoda, and the
destroyers Isonami, Shikinami and Uranami.
Some time around 23:00, the Allied ships were sighted by the
, which followed them surreptitiously. At
23:06, when they were about half-way across the mouth of Bantam
sighted a ship about eight kilometres
(five mi) ahead, near Sint Nicolaas Point. It was thought at
first that the ship was an Australian corvette, but when
challenged, she made an unintelligible reply, with a lamp which was
the wrong colour, and then turned away, making smoke. The ship was
soon identified as a Japanese destroyer (probably
). Waller reported the contact and ordered his
forward turrets to open fire.
In a ferocious night action that ended after midnight, the two
Allied cruisers were sunk. Two Japanese transports and a
minesweeper were sunk by torpedoes from the Fubuki
other transports— one of which was the Ryujo Maru
which Lt. Gen. Hitoshi Imamura
aboard— were also sunk but later refloated. After Imamura's ship
was fatally hit and sank, he had to jump overboard. However a small
boat rescued and brought him ashore.
696 men onboard the Houston
were killed, while 368 others
were saved. Perth
lost 375 men, with 307 others saved. The
captains of both cruisers were also killed.
The cruiser Mikuma
lost six men and eleven wounded as a
result of damage caused by Houston
. The destroyer
suffered a direct shell hit to her bridge
, killing one crewman and injuring
eleven others, while the Harukaze
suffered hits to her
bridge, engine room and rudder, killing three crewmen and over
were still engaging the
Japanese convoy by the time the Dutch destroyer HNLMS
arrived. She was trying to catch up with the two
cruisers when she saw tracers
shellfire ahead. In an attempt to avoid the battle,
sailed around them and through Sunda Strait.
well until she encountered the destroyers Murakumo and Shirakumo protecting the southern flank of Bantam Bay, and immediately fired on her.
altered course and managed to escape, but after
re-entering Sunda Strait, she encountered them again. She again
managed to escape under a smokescreen, but by then her stern was on
fire. Still taking fire from the destroyers, the decision was made
to beach the destroyer on a coastal reef. Firing all her torpedoes,
the crew escaped before the fire reached the aft magazine, causing
an explosion which blew off most of the stern. Majority of the crew
from the Evertsen
were taken prisoner on March 9-10,
- Dull. A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese
- - Firsthand account of the battle by a survivor from USS
- Naval History (no date), "1942 03 01 0100 Surface
Action Battle Of Sunda Strait"
- G. Hermon Gill, 1957, Official Histories – Second
World War Volume I – Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1942 (1st
ed,) Ch. 16 "Defeat in ABDA"
- Muir, Dan Order of Battle - The Battle of the Sunda Strait
- L., Klemen, 1999-2000, The Netherlands East Indies
1941-42, "The conquest of Java Island, March 1942"
(http://www.geocities.com/dutcheastindies/java.html, the Geocities
link can only be added by an established user)