Battle of the Java Sea


Battle of the Java Sea

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Battle of the Java Sea


caption= Bombs from Japanese aircraft falling near the Dutch cruiser Java during the battle.
partof=World War II, Pacific War
date=February 27, 1942
place=Java Sea
result=Decisive Japanese Victory
combatant1=navy|Netherlands
navy|United States|1912 navy|United Kingdom
navy|Australia
combatant2=navy|Empire of Japan
commander1=flagicon|NLD Karel DoormanKIA
flagicon|NLD Conrad Helfrich
commander2=flagicon|Empire of Japan|naval Takeo Takagi
strength1=2 heavy cruisers
3 light cruisers
9 destroyers
strength2=2 heavy cruisers
2 light cruisers
14 destroyers
10 transports
casualties1=2 cruisers sunk
3 destroyers sunk
2,300 sailors killed
casualties2=1 Destroyer damaged|

The Battle of the Java Sea was a major naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II. Allied navies suffered a disastrous defeat at the hand of the Imperial Japanese Navy, on February 27, 1942, and in secondary actions over successive days. The American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) commander, Admiral Karel Doorman was killed. The aftermath of the battle included several smaller actions around Java, including the smaller but also significant Battle of Sunda Strait. It was the largest surface engagement since the Battle of Jutland in World War I.

Background

The Japanese invasion of the Dutch East Indies progressed at a rapid pace as they advanced from their Palau Islands colony and captured bases in Sarawak and the southern Philippines. They seized bases in eastern Borneo and in northern Celebes while troop convoys, screened by destroyers and cruisers with air support provided by swarms of fighters operating from captured bases, steamed southward through the Makassar Strait and into the Molucca Sea. To oppose these invading forces was a small force, consisting mostly of American and Dutch warships, many of them of World War I vintage, under the command of Admiral Thomas C. Hart.

On January 23 1942, a force of four American destroyers attacked a Japanese invasion convoy in Makassar Strait as it approached Balikpapan in Borneo. On February 13, the Allies fought unsuccessfully, in the Battle of Palembang, to prevent the Japanese from capturing the major oil port in eastern Sumatra.On the night of February 19-February 20, an Allied force attacked the Eastern Invasion Force off Bali in the Battle of Badung Strait.Also on February 19, the Japanese First Air Fleet, under Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, attacked and wrecked the port at Darwin in northern Australia which rendered it useless as a supply and naval base to support operations in the East Indies.

Shortly before the battle commenced, the odds were not good for the Allied forces. They were disunited (ships came from four separate navies) and demoralized by constant air attacks and the impending fear of doom. In addition, the coordination between Allied navies and air forces was poor.

Battle

The Japanese amphibious forces gathered to strike at Java, and on February 27 1942, the main American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) naval force, under Doorman, sailed northeast from Surabaya to intercept a convoy of the Eastern Invasion Force approaching from the Makassar Strait. The ABDA force consisted of two heavy cruisers (HMS "Exeter", USS "Houston") and three light cruisers (HNLMS "De Ruyter" (Doorman's flagship), HNLMS "Java", HMAS "Perth"), and nine destroyers (HMS "Electra", HMS "Encounter", HMS "Jupiter", HNLMS "Kortenaer", HNLMS "Witte de With", USS "Alden", USS "John D. Edwards", USS "John D. Ford", and USS "Paul Jones").

The Japanese convoy was escorted by two heavy ("Nachi", "Haguro") and two light cruisers ("Naka",
"Jintsu")and fourteen destroyers("Yudachi",
"Samidare",
"Murasame",
"Harusame",
"Minegumo",
"Asagumo",
"Yukikaze",
"Tokitsukaze",
"Amatsukaze",
"Hatsukaze",
"Yamakaze",
"Kawakaze",
"Sazanami", and
"Ushio")under the command of Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura. The Japanese heavy cruisers were much more powerful, armed with ten 8-inch (203 mm) guns each and superb torpedoes. The "Exeter" was armed only with six of these guns. While the "Houston" carried nine 8-inchers, only six remained operable after her aft turret had been knocked out in an earlier air attack.

The ABDA force engaged the Japanese in the Java Sea, and the battle raged intermittently from mid-afternoon to midnight as the Allies tried to reach and attack the troop transports of the Java invasion fleet, but they were repulsed by superior firepower. The Allies had local air superiority during the daylight hours, because Japanese air power could not reach the fleet in the bad weather. The weather also hindered communications, making cooperation between the many Allied parties involved — in reconnaissance, air cover and fleet headquarters — even worse than it already was. The Japanese also jammed the radio frequencies. "Exeter" was the only ship in the battle equipped with radar, an emerging technology at the time.

The battle consisted of a series of attempts over a seven hour period by Doorman's Combined Striking Force to reach and attack the invasion convoy; each was rebuffed by the escort force with heavy losses being inflicted on the Allies.The fleets sighted each other at about 16:00 on February 27 and closed to firing range, opening fire at 16:16.Both sides exhibited poor gunnery and torpedo skills during this phase of the battle. The only notable example of gunnery was "Exeter" being critically damaged by a hit in the boiler room from an 8-inch shell. The ship then limped away to Surabaya, escorted by "Witte de With".The Japanese launched two huge torpedo salvoes, 92 in all, but scored only one hit, on "Kortenaer". She was struck by a Long Lance, broke in two and sank rapidly after the hit. "Electra", covering "Exeter", engaged in a duel with "Jintsu" and "Asagumo", scoring several hits but suffering severe damage to its superstructure. After a serious fire started on "Electra" and its remaining turret ran out of ammunition, abandon ship was ordered. On the Japanese side, only "Asagumo" was forced to retire because of damage.

The Allied fleet broke off and turned away around 18:00, covered by a smoke screen laid by the 4 destroyers of U.S destroyer division (DesDiv) 58. They also launched a torpedo attack but at too long a range to be effective.Doorman's force turned south towards the Java coast, then west and north as night fell in an attempt to evade the Japanese escort group and fall on the convoy. It was at this point the ships of DesDiv 58, their torpedoes expended, left on their own initiative to return to Surabaya.

Shortly after, at 21:25, "Jupiter" ran onto a mine and was sunk, while about 20 minutes later, the fleet passed where the "Kortenaer" had sunk earlier, and "Encounter" was detached to pick up survivors.Doorman's command, now reduced to 4 cruisers, again encountered the Japanese escort group at 23:00; both columns exchanged fire in the darkness at long range, until "De Ruyter" and "Java" were sunk, by one devastating long lance salvo. Doorman and most of his crew went down with "De Ruyter"; only 111 were saved from both ships.Only the cruisers "Perth" and "Houston" remained; low on fuel and ammunition, and following Doorman's last instructions, the two ships retired, arriving at Tanjung Priok on February 28.

Although the Allied fleet did not reach the invasion fleet, the battle did give the defenders of Java a one-day respite.

Aftermath

Battle of Sunda Strait

"Perth" and "Houston" were at Tanjung Priok on February 28 when they received orders to sail through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap. Materiel was running short in Java, and neither was able to rearm or fully refuel. Departing at 21:00 on February 28 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 March 1, "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.

Java Sea

After emergency repairs the badly damaged "Exeter" left for Ceylon; she departed Surabaya at dusk on February 28 and limped towards Sunda Strait, escorted by "Encounter" and "Pope". However all three ships were intercepted and sunk by the Japanese heavy cruisers "Nachi" and "Haguro" on the morning of March 1.

Bali Strait

The 4 U.S destroyers of DesRon58, "Edwards", "Ford", "Alden" and "Jones", were also at Surabaya; they left at nightfall February 28 for Australia. After a brief encounter with a Japanese destroyer in the Bali Strait, which they were able to evade, they reached Fremantle safely on March 4.

Consequences

A further two American, and one Dutch destroyer 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 February 28. 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. Despite their logistical problems the decisive factors in Japan's favor seem to have been air power. Eventually the Japanese won this battle of attrition and ABDA forces surrendered on March 9.

References

Books

*cite book
last = Brown
first = David
authorlink =
year = 1990
title = Warship Losses of World War Two
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-55750-914-X

*cite book
last = Burchell
first = David
authorlink =
year = 1971
title = The Bells of the Sunda Strait
publisher = Rigby
location = Adelaide, Australia
id =

*cite book
last = Cain
first = T. J.
authorlink =
year = 1959
title = HMS Electra
publisher = Futura Publications
location = London
id =

*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 = Gill
first = G. Hermon
year = 1957
url = http://www.awm.gov.au/histories/chapter.asp?volume=24
title = Volume I – Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1942
series = Australia in the War of 1939–1945
location = Canberra
publisher = Australian War Memorial
chapter = Chapter 15 – Abda and Anzac
chapterurl = http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/24/chapters/15.pdf
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite book
last = Gill
first = G. Hermon
year = 1957
url = http://www.awm.gov.au/histories/chapter.asp?volume=24
title = Volume I – Royal Australian Navy, 1939–1942
series = Australia in the War of 1939–1945
location = Canberra
publisher = Australian War Memorial
chapter = Chaper 16 – Defeat in Abda
chapterurl = http://www.awm.gov.au/cms_images/histories/24/chapters/16.pdf
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite book
last = Gordon
first = Oliver L.
year = 1957
title = Fight It Out
publisher = William Kimber
id =

*cite book
last = Grove
first = Eric
authorlink =
year = 1993
chapter =
title = Sea Battles in Close-Up: World War II, vol. 2
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location = Annapolis, MD, USA
id = ISBN 07110 2118 X

*cite book
last = Hara
first = Tameichi
year = 1961
title = Japanese Destroyer Captain
publisher = Ballantine Books
location = New York & Toronto
id = ISBN 0-345-27894-1
- Firsthand account of the battle by the captain of the Japanese destroyer "Amatsukaze".
*cite book
last = Holbrook
first = Heber
authorlink =
year = 1981
chapter =
title = U.S.S. "Houston": The Last Flagship of the Asiatic Fleet
publisher = Pacific Ship and Shore
location = Dixon, CA, USA
id =

*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 = Hoyt
first = Edwin P.
authorlink =
year = 1976
chapter =
title = The Lonely Ships: The Life and Death of the Asiatic Fleet
publisher = David McKay Company
location = New York
id =

*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 = McKie
first = Ronald
authorlink =
coauthors =
year = 1953
chapter =
title = Proud Echo: The Great Last Battle of HMAS Perth
publisher = Angus & Robertson
location = Sydney
id =

*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 = Parkin
first = Robert Sinclair
authorlink =
year = 1995
title = Blood on the Sea: American Destroyers Lost in World War II
publisher = Da Capo Press
location =
id = ISBN 0-306-81069-7

*cite book
last = Payne
first = Alan
authorlink =
year = 2000
title = HMAS Perth: The Story of a Six-Inch Cruiser, 1936-1942
publisher = The Naval Historical Society of Australia
location = Garden Island, NSW, Aus
id =

*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 = Thomas
first = David A.
year = 1968
title = The Battle of the Java Sea
publisher = Stein & Day
location = New York
id = ISBN 0-330-02608-9

*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

Visual media

*cite visual
crew = Niek Koppen (Director)
year = 1995
url=http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0210987/
title=Slag in de Javazee, De (The Battle of the Java Sea)
medium = Documentary film
location = Netherlands
distributor = NFM/IAF
— 135 minute documentary of the battle. Won the "Golden Calf" award for "Best Long Documentary" at the 1996 Nederlands Film Festival.

External links

*cite web
url = http://www.combinedfleet.com/
title = CombinedFleet.com: Tabular history of Japanese ships involved in the battle
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.microworks.net/PACIFIC/battles/java_sea.htm
title = Battle of the Java Sea: 27 February 1942 by Vincent P. O'Hara
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.microworks.net/pacific/battles/sunda_strait.htm
title = Battle of Sunda Strait: 28 February-March 1 1942 by Vincent P. O'Hara
accessdate = 2006-05-31

*cite web
url = http://www.pacificwrecks.com/provinces/indonesia_javasea.html
title = Details on the battle and sunken ships from a diving site
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://ahoy.tk-jk.net/macslog/BattleoftheJavaSeainwhich.html
title = Details on the battle and the report from the captain of "HMS Exeter"
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/USN-CN-Java/index.html
title = US Navy report of the battle from 1943.
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.geocities.com/dutcheastindies/java_sea.html
title = The Java Sea Battle
accessdate = 2006-05-17
- Short synopsis of the battle but has some good pictures.
*cite web
url = http://www.navweaps.com/index_oob/OOB_WWII_Pacific/OOB_WWII_Java-Sea.htm
title = Navweaps.com order of battle.
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.awm.gov.au/alliesinadversity/japanese/java.asp
title = Australian War Memorial description of the battle with some pictures.
accessdate = 2006-05-17

*cite web
url = http://www.historyanimated.com/DutchEastIndiesPage.html
title = Fall of the Dutch East Indies
format = HTML, Flash
work = Animated histories of Pacific battles of World War II

*cite web
last = United States Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) - Naval Analysis Division
first =
year = 1946
url = http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/USSBS/PTO-Campaigns/USSBS-PTO-3.html
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


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