Battle of Sunda Strait

Battle of Sunda Strait

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of Sunda Strait

caption=An oil painting, "HMAS "Perth" fights to the last, 28th February, 1942", by official war artist Murray Griffin. It was painted circa 1942-43 at Changi Prison, Singapore, where "Perth" survivors and Griffin were held as POWs.
partof=World War II, Pacific War
date=February 28-March 1, 1942
place=Sunda Strait, Netherlands East Indies
result=Japanese victory
flag|United States|1912
combatant2=flag|Empire of Japan
commander1=flagicon|Australia|naval Hector WallerKIA
flagicon|United States|1912 Albert H. RooksKIA
commander2=flagicon|Empire of Japan|naval Kenzaburo Hara
flagicon|Empire of Japan|naval Takeo Kurita
strength1=2 cruisers
strength2=1 light aircraft carrier,
1 seaplane carrier,
5 cruisers,
12 destroyers
troop transports
small combat vessels
casualties1=both cruisers sunk
696 killed, 368 saved (Houston)
375 killed, 307 saved (Perth)
casualties2=1 minesweeper and 1 transport sunk|

In 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 USS "Houston" and the Australian cruiser HMAS "Perth" faced a major Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) task force. After a fierce battle of several hours duration, both Allied ships were sunk. Two Japanese ships were sunk by friendly fire.


In late February 1942, Japanese amphibious forces were preparing to invade Java, in the Netherlands East Indies.

On 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 heavy cruisers, including USS "Houston" (under Captain Albert H. Rooks), three light cruisers including HMAS "Perth" (Captain Hector Waller), and nine destroyers. Only six of the nine 8-inch guns on "Houston" were operable, since its aft turret had been knocked out in an earlier air attack.

The ABDA force engaged the Japanese force in the Java Sea. The 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.


Later on February 28, "Houston" and "Perth" received orders to sail through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap, on the south coast of Java. The Dutch destroyer "Evertsen", which was to have accompanied them, was not ready and remained in Tanjung Priok. "Houston" and "Perth" left at 19:00. 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 Japanese 16th Army's Western Java Invasion Convoy — over 50 transports,and including the Army's commander, Lt Gen. Hitoshi Imamura — was entering Bantam Bay, near the northwest tip of Java. The 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. Hara's light cruiser "Natori", with the destroyers "Harukaze", "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.

Slightly further north, though not involved in the action, was the aircraft carrier "Ryujo", 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 patrolling "Fubuki", which followed them surreptitiously. At 23:06, when they were about half-way across the mouth of Bantam Bay, "Perth" 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, it 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 "Harukaze"). 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. A Japanese minesweeper and a transport were sunk by torpedoes from "Fubuki". Three other transports— one of which was "Ryujo Maru", on which Lt. Gen. Hitoshi Imamura was 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 him and brought him ashore. (L.,Klemens,1999-2000)


*cite book
last = D'Albas
first = Andrieu
authorlink =
year = 1965
title = Death of a Navy: Japanese Naval Action in World War II
publisher = Devin-Adair Pub
location =
id = ISBN 0-8159-5302-X

*cite book
last = Dull
first = Paul S.
authorlink =
year = 1978
chapter =
title = A Battle History of the Imperial Japanese Navy, 1941-1945
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-097-1

*cite book
last = Hornfischer
first = James D.
authorlink =
year = 2006
chapter =
title = Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors
publisher = Bantam
location =
id = ISBN 0-553-80390-5

*cite book
last = Lacroix
first = Eric
authorlink =
coauthors = Linton Wells
year = 1997
chapter =
title = Japanese Cruisers of the Pacific War
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-311-3

*cite book
last = Morison
first = Samuel Eliot
authorlink = Samuel Eliot Morison
coauthors =
year = 1958 (reissue 2001)
chapter =
title = The Rising Sun in the Pacific 1931 - April 1942", vol. 3 of "History of United States Naval Operations in World War II
publisher = Castle Books
location =
id = 0785813047

*cite book
last = Schultz
first = Duane
year = 1985
title = The Last Battle Station: The Story of the USS Houston
publisher = St Martins Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-312-46973-X

*cite book
last = Skeels
first = Fred
authorlink =
year = 2008
title = Java Rabble: A story of a ship, slavery and survival
publisher = Hesperian Press
location = Victoria Park
id = ISBN 978-0-85905-419-5

*cite book
last = van Oosten
first = F. C.
year = 1976
title = The Battle of the Java Sea (Sea battles in close-up; 15)
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-911-1

*cite book
last = Spector
first = Ronald
year = 1985
chapter = The Short, Unhappy Life of ABDACOM
title = Eagle Against the Sun : The American War With Japan
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-394-74101-3

*cite book
last = Whiting
first = Brendan
year = 1995
chapter =
title = Ship of Courage: The Epic Story of HMAS Perth and Her Crew
publisher = Allen & Unwin Pty., Limited
location = Australia
id = ISBN 1-86373-653-0

*cite book
last = Winslow
first = Walter G.
year = 1984
chapter =
title = The Ghost that Died at Sunda Strait
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-87021-218-4
- Firsthand account of the battle by a survivor from "USS Houston"
*cite book
last = Winslow
first = Walter G.
year = 1994
chapter =
title = The Fleet the Gods Forgot: The U.S. Asiatic Fleet in World War II
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-55750-928-X

External links

* [ "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"]
*cite web
url =
title = US Navy report of the battle from 1943.
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
last = United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) - Naval Analysis Division
first =
year = 1946
url =
title = Chapter 3: The Japanese Invasion of the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, and Southeast Asia
work = The Campaigns of the Pacific War
publisher = United States Government Printing Office
accessdate = 2006-11-20

* Muir, Dan [ Order of Battle - The Battle of the Sunda Strait 1942]
* L., Klemen, 1999-2000, "The Netherlands East Indies 1941-42", "The conquest of Java Island, March 1942" (, the Geocities link can only be added by an established user)

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