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  HMAS Perth (D29)
HMAS
Leander Class
Light Cruiser (Modified)

6,830 Tons
562' 3.875" x 56' 8" x 19' 7"
8 x 6" guns
8 x 4" guns
12 x 50 cal MG
10 x .303 MG
8 x 21" torpedo tubes
one seaplane
Click For Enlargement
RAN January 3, 1942

Ship History
Built at Portsmouth Naval Dockyard for the Royal Navy as HMS Amphion. Laid down on June 26, 1933. Launched on July 27, 1934. Commissioned on June 15, 1936. During 1939, transferred to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and recommissioned as HMAS Perth.

Wartime History
At the start of World War II, Perth patrolled Australian waters, before being sent to the Mediterranean Sea at the end of 1940 and was involved in the battles for Greece, Crete, and Syria. During June and July, the ship fought against Vichy French forces in Syria, before she was replaced by HMAS Hobart. Afterwards, Perth returned to Australia in August for refit, then resumed convoy escort duties in home waters until early 1942.

On February 14, 1942 Perth sailed with a convoy of empty oil tankers to the Netherlands East Indies on a mission to retrieve as much oil as possible before the Japanese could invade the area. En route, the tankers were ordered back to Australia and Perth departed for Tanjong Priok on February 24, then proceeded to Surabaya the next day, where she met the ABDA fleet.

Battle of the Java Sea
In the afternoon of February 27, 1942 the fleet spotted a Japanese force bound for Surabaya and opened fire initiating the Battle of the Java Sea. In the combat, HMAS Perth targeted a Japanese cruiser.

On February 28, 1942 at 2.30pm HMAS Perth and USS Houston arrived Tanjong Priok and were ordered to escape via the Sunda Strait bound for Tjilatjap. Before departing, the two warships attempted to resupply, but HMAS Perth departed with only about 20 rounds left per gun left.

Sinking History
On February 28, 1942 at 10:30pm at the start of the Battle of Sunda Strait HMAS Perth and USS Houston were sighted by the destroyer Fubuki which quietly shadowed them for the next half hour. At 11:06pm HMAS Perth lookouts sighted Harukaze about 5 miles off the entrance to Sunda Strait. When challenged she made an unrecognized reply and then sped off making smoke to cover the Japanese transports. Perth immediately turned to starboard and opened fire. A few minutes later Perth sighted Fubuki and, illuminating her, opened fire. Fubuki fired her torpedoes at Perth and USS Houston but missed, instead hitting the Japanese transports.

The Japanese destroyers made torpedo attacks on the two cruisers and an urgent call was sent to Mogami and Mikuma to assist. Perth exchanged fire with Hatakaze as the other destroyers continued to attack. Light cruiser Natori and her destroyers now joined in the attack but the fire from Perth and USS Houston was so intense that the Japanese were forced to break off under a smokescreen.

By now Mogami and Mikuma had commenced firing at our ships. Another attempt was made by the Jap destroyers to mount a torpedo attack but they were driven off by the sheer ferocity of the gunfire from Perth and USS Houston. At 11.50pm Perth was hit by a shell from Harukaze which did little damage. Our cruisers were still exchanging fire with the enemy cruisers.

Perth was low on 6" and the 4" AA were firing star shells and practice rounds to make it look like they had plenty of ammunition left. At 11.55pm Perth started to turn to make a run for the Sunda Strait. At the same time Murakumo, Harukaze and Hatakaze all fired torpedoes toward her. Perth was hit by four torpedoes over the next 15 minutes. On March 1, 1942 at 12:25am she finally sank a few miles north of St. Nicholas Point at the entrance to the Sunda Strait.

Shipwreck
HMAS Perth lies at a depth of 120' at roughly Lat 05.51.42S Long 106.07.52E roughly three miles north of Saint Nicholas Point on the northwest tip of Java.

Rescue
Of her crew of 682 men, only 229 survived the Pacific War.

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Last Updated
January 10, 2018

 

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