Confederation Marine Modellers
Battle of the Java Sea - Part 2.
Battle of Sunda Strait
HMAS Perth and USS Houston were at Tanjung Priok on 28 February when they received orders to sail through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap. Material was running short in Java, and neither was able to rearm or fully refuel. Departing at 21:00 on 28 February for the Sunda Strait, by chance they encountered the main Japanese invasion fleet for West Java in Bantam Bay. The Allied ships were engaged by at least three cruisers and several destroyers.
In a ferocious night action that ended after midnight on 1 March, Perth and Houston were sunk. A Japanese minesweeper and a troop transport were sunk by friendly fire, while three other transports were damaged and had to be beached.
Second Battle of the Java Sea
After emergency repairs the badly-damaged Exeter left Surabaya for Ceylon; she departed at dusk on 28 February and limped toward Sunda Strait, escorted by the destroyers HMS Encounter and USS Pope. However, all three ships were intercepted by the Japanese heavy cruisers Nachi, Haguro, Myōkō and Ashigara—and their attendant destroyers—on the morning of 1 March. Exeter and Encounter were sunk together around noon, while Pope escaped only to be sunk several hours later by aerial attack.
The four U.S destroyers of DesRon 58—John D. Edwards, John D. Ford, Alden, and Paul Jones—were also at Surabaya; they left for Australia at nightfall on 28 February. After a brief encounter with a Japanese destroyer in the Bali Strait, which they were able to evade, they reached Fremantle safely on 4 March.
A further Dutch and two American destroyers were sunk as they attempted to escape to Australia. The main ABDA naval force had been almost totally destroyed: 10 ships and approximately 2,173 sailors had been lost. The Battle of the Java Sea ended significant Allied naval operations in South-East Asia in 1942, and Japanese land forces invaded Java on 28 February. The Dutch surface fleet was practically eradicated from the Asian waters and the Netherlands would never reclaim full control of its colony. The Japanese had laid open the control of one of the most important food-producing regions, Java, and by conquering the Dutch East-Indies Japan also gained ultimate control over the resources of the fourth largest oil producer in the world in 1940.
The U.S. and Royal Air Force then started to retreat to Australia. Dutch troops, aided by British remnants, fought fiercely for a week. In the campaign the Japanese executed many Allied POWs and sympathizing Indonesians. Eventually, the Japanese won this decisive battle of attrition and ABDA forces surrendered on 9 March.
As of 2002 the location of the wreck of only one of the nine sunken ships, HMS Jupiter, was known and plotted on an Admiralty chart. However, given her location in very shallow water so close to shore she had already been heavily salvaged.
By late 2008 the wrecks of Java, De Ruyter, Electra, Kortenaer, Perth, Exeter, Encounter and Pope, had all been discovered.
Although the locations of the wrecks had been kept secret, by 2017 all ships had been reduced to remnants or even entirely removed by illegal commercial salvage operations.