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1942

Battle of the Java Sea
On February 27-28, 1942 was the Battle of the Java Sea. Dutch, British, Australians and several other ships of the American Navy were involved in this Naval battle. The Japanese, were the unquestioned victor. The Allies lost almost their entire fleet. A few WWI four stack destroyers miraculously got away before the battle ended, having been ordered out of the fray when their armament and fuel was exhausted.

Wartime History
The Allied naval force, under the command of RAdm Doorman, RNN of five cruisers and 11 destroyers in Java Sea near Surabaya attack Japanese support force covering Java invasion convoy. Japanese gunfire proves ineffective 1,271 8" rounds achieve only five hits; of those five, four are duds. The only shell that does explode reduces the speed of HMS Exeter. Haguro torpedoes and sinks Dutch destroyer Kortenaer.

Japanese destroyer gunfire sinks British destroyer HMS Electra; while HMS Jupiter is sunk by mine laid earlier that day by Dutch minelayer Gouden Leeuw. Allied gunfire damages two Japanese destroyers, but American destroyer torpedo attack proves ineffective.

The Allied forces put to sea on February 26 on the news that invasion convoys are approaching. Failing to find them, they head back to Surabaya the next day, but before arriving, more reports arrive and the Allied force goes out again towards a position to the northwest.

The main battle starts on February 27 at around 16:00 against the two heavy, two light cruisers and 14 destroyers covering the Japanese transports. Both Allied heavies open fire at long range, but HMS Exeter is soon hit and her speed reduced. In the resulting confusion one of the Dutch destroyers is torpedoed and sunk. As Exeter returns to Surabaya with the second Dutch destroyer, the Royal Navy destroyers go in to attack and HMS Electra is sunk by gunfire. Adm Doorman heads back south towards the Java coast and sends off the US destroyers to refuel. He then turns to the north with his remaining four cruisers and two British destroyers. By now it is late evening and Jupiter is lost probably on a Dutch mine. Encounter picks up survivors from the first Dutch destroyer and shortly follows the Americans to Surabaya. The four cruisers, now without any destroyers, are in action sometime before midnight and both De Ruyter and Java are blasted apart by the big Japanese torpedoes. HMAS Perth and USS Houston (both later sunk in the Battle of Sunda Strait) make for Batavia, further west along the north coast of Java.

HMS Electra
Sunk by gunfire from IJN destroyers in afternoon, February 27, 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea, discovered August 19, 2003

Hr Ms Kortenaer
Sunk in the afternoon, February 27, 1942 by torpedo from Harugo, discovery Dec 1, 2002

HMS Jupiter (F85)
Sunk in evening, February 27, 1942 after striking a Dutch minefield during Battle of the Java Sea, discovery date unknown

Hr Ms Java
Sunk around midnight on February 27, 1942 by torpedo from Nachi, discovery Dec 1, 2002

Hr Ms De Ruyter
Sunk around midnight on February 27, 1942 by torpedo from Harugo, discovery Dec 1, 2002

U-168
Sunk October 6, 1944 by a torpedo fired by Dutch submarine HrMs Zwaardvisch (P 322)

Bawean Island (Second Battle of the Java Sea)
Lat 5° 46' 0S Long 112° 40' 0E. A small island situated in the lower third of the Java Sea, 100 nautical miles north of Surabaya (Java).. After the first phase of the Battle of the Java Sea during the afternoon of February 27, which occurred south south west of Bawean, the battle moved into another phase in the evening in an area west south west of Bawean, with the two Dutch light cruisers De Ruyter and Java being sunk. Two days later, as HMS Exeter tried to escape the confines of the Japanese controlled Java Sea, she was intercepted north of Bawean Island and participated in what some call the "Second Battle of the Java Sea". However this 'final' battle in the three day ‘three battle’ saga (the other battle being HMAS Perth and USS Houston’s engagement and subsequent sinking during the Battle of Sunda Strait on morning of March 1) might more accurately be called “The Battle off Bawean Island”.

HMS Exeter (68)
Sunk late morning of March 1, 1942 by scuttling, gunfire (and torpedo from Inazuma), discovered February 21, 2007

HMS Encounter (H10)
Sunk late morning of March 1, 1942 by gunfire and possibly torpedo, discovery Feb 21, 2007

USS Pope (DD-225)
Sunk early afternoon, March 1, 1942 by dive bombers, scuttling and shell fire after sustaining many direct hits. Still to be discovered

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Last Updated
January 8, 2014

 

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