Battle of the Java Sea

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Coordinates: 5°0′S111°0′E / 5.000°S 111.000°E / -5.000; 111.000

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Contents

Battle of the Java Sea
Part of World War II, Pacific War
UmpCADH270K.jpg
Bombs from a Japanese aircraft falling near the Dutch light cruiser Java in the Gaspar Strait east of Sumatra, Dutch East Indies, on 15 February 1942.
Date27 February 1942
Location
Result Decisive Japanese victory
Belligerents
Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
Flag of the United States (1912-1959).svg  United States
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg  Japan
Commanders and leaders
Naval Jack of the Netherlands.svg Karel Doorman  
Naval Jack of the Netherlands.svg Conrad Helfrich [1]
Naval ensign of the Empire of Japan.svg Takeo Takagi [2]
Strength
2 heavy cruisers
3 light cruisers
9 destroyers
2 heavy cruisers
2 light cruisers
14 destroyers
10 transports
Casualties and losses
2 light cruisers sunk
3 destroyers sunk
1 heavy cruiser damaged
2,300 sailors killed
3 destroyers damaged
1 light cruiser damaged
36 sailors killed

The Battle of the Java Sea (Indonesian : Pertempuran Laut Jawa, Japanese : スラバヤ沖海戦, translit.  Surabaya oki kaisen, lit.  'Battle off Surabaya in open sea') was a decisive [3] naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II.

Indonesian language language spoken in Indonesia

Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia. It is a standardized register of Malay, an Austronesian language that has been used as a lingua franca in the multilingual Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Indonesia is the fourth most populous nation in the world. Of its large population, the majority speak Indonesian, making it one of the most widely spoken languages in the world.

Japanese is an East Asian language spoken by about 128 million people, primarily in Japan, where it is the national language. It is a member of the Japonic language family, and its relation to other languages, such as Korean, is debated. Japanese has been grouped with language families such as Ainu, Austroasiatic, and the now-discredited Altaic, but none of these proposals has gained widespread acceptance.

The romanization of Japanese is the use of Latin script to write the Japanese language. This method of writing is sometimes referred to in Japanese as rōmaji(ローマ字, literally, "Roman letters") ([ɾoːmaꜜʑi]. There are several different romanization systems. The three main ones are Hepburn romanization, Kunrei-shiki romanization, and Nihon-shiki romanization. Variants of the Hepburn system are the most widely used.

Allied navies suffered a disastrous defeat at the hand of the Imperial Japanese Navy, on 27 February 1942, and in secondary actions over successive days. The American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) Strike Force commander— Dutch Rear-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. These defeats led to Japanese occupation of the entire Netherlands East Indies.

Allies of World War II Grouping of the victorious countries of World War II

The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.

Imperial Japanese Navy Naval branch of the Empire of Japan

The Imperial Japanese Navy was the navy of the Empire of Japan from 1868 until 1945, when it was dissolved following Japan's surrender in World War II. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) was formed after the dissolution of the IJN.

American-British-Dutch-Australian Command

The American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) Command, or ABDACOM, was a short-lived, supreme command for all Allied forces in South East Asia, in early 1942, during the Pacific War in World War II. The main objective of the command, led by General Sir Archibald Wavell, was to maintain control of the "Malay Barrier", a notional line running down the Malayan Peninsula, through Singapore and the southernmost islands of Dutch East Indies. ABDACOM was also known in British military circles as the "South West Pacific Command", although it should not be confused with the later South West Pacific Area command.

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. [4] They seized bases in eastern Borneo [5] [6] and in northern Celebes [7] 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 of Dutch, American, British and Australian warships—many of them of World War I vintage—initially under the command of Admiral Thomas C. Hart. [8]

Dutch East Indies campaign conflict

The Dutch East Indies Campaign of 1941–1942 was the conquest of the Dutch East Indies by forces from the Empire of Japan in the early days of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. Forces from the Allies attempted unsuccessfully to defend the islands. The East Indies were targeted by the Japanese for their rich oil resources which would become a vital asset during the war. The campaign and subsequent three and a half year Japanese occupation was also a major factor in the end of Dutch colonial rule in the region.

Sarawak State of Malaysia

Sarawak is a state of Malaysia. Being the largest among 13 other states with the size almost equal to West Malaysia, Sarawak is located in northwest Borneo Island, and is bordered by the Malaysian state of Sabah to the northeast, Kalimantan to the south, and Brunei in the north. The capital city, Kuching, is the largest city in Sarawak, the economic centre of the state, and the seat of the Sarawak state government. Other cities and towns in Sarawak include Miri, Sibu, and Bintulu. As of the 2015 census, the population of Sarawak was 2,636,000. Sarawak has an equatorial climate with tropical rainforests and abundant animal and plant species. It has several prominent cave systems at Gunung Mulu National Park. Rajang River is the longest river in Malaysia; Bakun Dam, one of the largest dams in Southeast Asia, is located on one of its tributaries, the Balui River. Mount Murud is the highest point in Sarawak.

Borneo island

Borneo is the third-largest island in the world and the largest in Asia. At the geographic centre of Maritime Southeast Asia, in relation to major Indonesian islands, it is located north of Java, west of Sulawesi, and east of Sumatra.

On 23 January 1942, a force of four American destroyers attacked a Japanese invasion convoy in Makassar Strait as it approached Balikpapan in Borneo. [9] On 13 February, the Allies fought unsuccessfully—in the Battle of Palembang—to prevent the Japanese from capturing the major oil port in eastern Sumatra. [10] On the night of 19/20 February, an Allied force attacked the Eastern Invasion Force off Bali in the Battle of Badung Strait. [11] Also on 19 February, the Japanese made two air raids on Darwin, on the Australia mainland, one from carrier-based planes and the other by land-based planes. [12] The destruction of Darwin rendered it useless as a supply and naval base to support operations in the East Indies.

Balikpapan City in Indonesia

Balikpapan is a seaport city on the east coast of the island of Borneo, in the Indonesian province of East Kalimantan. Two harbors, Semayang and Kariangau, and Sultan Aji Muhammad Sulaiman Airport are the main transportation ports to the city. Balikpapan is the industrial, transportational, commercial and financial center of Kalimantan. The city has a population of 736,806; making it the second most populous city in East Kalimantan, after Samarinda.

Battle of Palembang

The Battle of Palembang was a battle of the Pacific theatre of World War II. It occurred near Palembang, on Sumatra, on 13–15 February 1942. The Royal Dutch Shell oil refineries at nearby Pladju were the major objectives for the Empire of Japan in the Pacific War, because of an oil embargo imposed on Japan by the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. With the area's abundant fuel supply and airfield, Palembang offered significant potential as a military base to both the Allies and the Japanese.

Sumatra island in western Indonesia, westernmost of the Sunda Islands

Sumatra is a large island in western Indonesia that is part of the Sunda Islands. It is the largest island that is located entirely in Indonesia and the sixth-largest island in the world at 473,481 km2.

Battle

A formation of Japanese twin engined land based bombers taking anti-aircraft fire whilst attacking ships in the Java Sea; seen from the Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart. A formation of Japanese bombers attacking warships in the Java Sea.jpg
A formation of Japanese twin engined land based bombers taking anti-aircraft fire whilst attacking ships in the Java Sea; seen from the Australian cruiser HMAS Hobart.
HNLMS De Ruyter at anchor in February 1942, shortly before the battle. HNLMS De Ruyter.jpg
HNLMS De Ruyter at anchor in February 1942, shortly before the battle.
Japanese cruiser Haguro (pictured) sank HNLMS De Ruyter, killing Admiral Karel Doorman. Japanese cruiser Haguro.jpg
Japanese cruiser Haguro (pictured) sank HNLMS De Ruyter, killing Admiral Karel Doorman.

The Japanese amphibious forces gathered to strike at Java, and on 27 February 1942, the main Allied naval force, under Doorman, sailed northeast from Surabaya to intercept a convoy of the Eastern Invasion Force approaching from the Makassar Strait. The Eastern Strike Force, as it was known, [13] consisted of two heavy cruisers (HMS Exeter and USS Houston), three light cruisers (Doorman's flagship HNLMS De Ruyter, 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).

Surabaya City in Java, Indonesia

Surabaya is the capital of East Java province, and the second-largest city in Indonesia. The city has a population of over 3 million within the city proper and over 10 million in the Greater Surabaya metropolitan area, known as Gerbangkertosusila. Located on northeastern Java on the Madura Strait, it is one of the earliest port cities in Southeast Asia.

Heavy cruiser type of cruiser warship

The heavy cruiser was a type of cruiser, a naval warship designed for long range and high speed, armed generally with naval guns of roughly 203 mm (8 inches) in caliber, whose design parameters were dictated by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930. The heavy cruiser is part of a lineage of ship design from 1915 through the early 1950s, although the term "heavy cruiser" only came into formal use in 1930. The heavy cruiser's immediate precursors were the light cruiser designs of the 1900s and 1910s, rather than the armoured cruisers of before 1905. When the armoured cruiser was supplanted by the battlecruiser, an intermediate ship type between this and the light cruiser was found to be needed—one larger and more powerful than the light cruisers of a potential enemy but not as large and expensive as the battlecruiser so as to be built in sufficient numbers to protect merchant ships and serve in a number of combat theaters.

HMS <i>Exeter</i> (68) ship

HMS Exeter was the second and last York-class heavy cruiser built for the Royal Navy during the late 1920s. Aside from a temporary deployment with the Mediterranean Fleet during the Abyssinia Crisis of 1935–36, she spent the bulk of the 1930s assigned to the Atlantic Fleet or the North America and West Indies Station. When World War II began in September 1939, the cruiser was assigned to patrol South American waters against German commerce raiders. Then the Exeter was one of three British cruisers that fought the German pocket battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee, later that year in the Battle of the River Plate. She was severely damaged during the battle, and she was in the shipyard for over a year.

The Japanese task force protecting the convoy, commanded by Rear-Admiral Takeo Takagi, [14] consisted of two heavy (Nachi and Haguro) and two light cruisers (Naka and Jintsū) and 14 destroyers (Yūdachi, Samidare, Murasame, Harusame, Minegumo, Asagumo, Yukikaze, Tokitsukaze, Amatsukaze, Hatsukaze, Yamakaze, Kawakaze, Sazanami, and Ushio) including the 4th Destroyer Squadron under the command of Rear Admiral Shoji Nishimura. [15] The Japanese heavy cruisers were much more powerful, armed with ten 8-inch (203 mm) guns each, and superb torpedoes. By comparison, Exeter was armed only with six 8-inch guns and only six of Houston's nine 8-inch guns remained operable after her aft turret had been knocked out in an earlier air attack.

The Allied 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 27 February and closed to firing range, opening fire at 16:16. Both sides exhibited poor gunnery and torpedo skills during this phase of the battle. Despite her recent refit (with the addition of modern Type 284 gunnery control radar), Exeter's shells did not come close to the Japanese ships, while Houston only managed to achieve a straddle on one of the opposing cruisers. The only notable result of the initial gunnery exchange 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, consisting of 92 torpedoes 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 Jintsū and Asagumo, scoring several hits but suffering severe damage to her superstructure. After a serious fire started on Electra and her 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 four destroyers of U.S Destroyer Division 58 (DesDiv 58). They also launched a torpedo attack but at too long a range to be effective. Doorman's force turned south toward 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 Kortenaer had sunk earlier, and Encounter was detached to pick up survivors.

Doorman's command, now reduced to four 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 torpedo 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 28 February.

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 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 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.

Bali Strait

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.

Consequences

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 sources 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.

Wrecks

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. [16]

In December 2002 the wrecks of Java and De Ruyter were discovered by a specialist wreck diving group aboard the dive vessel MV Empress. Empress then went on to discover the wrecks of Electra in August 2003; Kortenaer In August 2004; Perth in November 2006; and Exeter and Encounter in February 2007. The wrecks were in a relatively well-preserved state. [17] In late 2008, Empress discovered remnants of the last wreck, of Pope, which had already been largely removed by illegal salvage diving operations. [18]

Although the MV Empress team kept the locations of their discoveries secret, by 2017 all nine ships had been reduced to remnants or even entirely removed by illegal commercial salvage operations. [19] [20] ' [21] [22]

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USS <i>Houston</i> (CA-30)

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Karel Doorman Dutch admiral

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The Battle of Sunda Strait was a naval battle which occurred during World War II in the Sunda Strait between the islands of Java, and Sumatra. On the night of 28 February – 1 March 1942, the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth and the American heavy cruiser USS Houston faced a major Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) task force. After a fierce battle of several hours duration, both Allied ships were sunk. Five Japanese ships were sunk, three of them by friendly fire.

Battle of Makassar Strait conflict

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Battle of Badung Strait

The Battle of Badung Strait was a naval battle of the Pacific campaign of World War II, fought on the night of 19/20 February 1942 in Badung Strait between the American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) and the Imperial Japanese Navy. In the engagement, the four Japanese destroyers defeated an Allied force that outnumbered and outgunned them, escorting two transports to safety and sinking the Dutch destroyer Piet Hein. The battle demonstrated the Japanese Navy's considerable superiority over the Allies in night fighting which lasted until the Battle of Cape St. George.

Japanese destroyer <i>Fubuki</i> (1927) Fubuki-class destroyer

Fubuki was the lead ship of twenty-four Fubuki-class destroyers, built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War. Fubuki was a veteran of many of the major battles of the first year of the war, and was sunk in Ironbottom Sound during the Battle of Cape Esperance in World War II.

USS <i>Pope</i> (DD-225)

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USS <i>Pillsbury</i> (DD-227)

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Japanese cruiser <i>Naka</i> Sendai-class light cruiser

Naka (那珂) was a Sendai-class light cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN), named after the Naka River in the Tochigi and Ibaraki prefectures of eastern Japan. Naka was the third vessel completed in the Sendai class of light cruisers, and like other vessels of her class, she was intended for use as the flagship of a destroyer flotilla.

Japanese destroyer <i>Shirakumo</i> (1927) Fubuki-class destroyer

Shirakumo was a Fubuki-class destroyer and the eighth in a class of twenty-four vessels built for the Imperial Japanese Navy following World War I. When introduced into service, these ships were the most powerful destroyers in the world. They served as first-line destroyers through the 1930s, and remained formidable weapons systems well into the Pacific War.

Japanese cruiser <i>Mikuma</i> ship

Mikuma was the second vessel in the four-vessel Mogami class of heavy cruisers in the Imperial Japanese Navy. It was named after the Mikuma river in Oita prefecture, Japan. Commissioned in 1935, it participated in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942 and the Battle of Midway in June 1942. It was sunk the last day of the battle, June 6.

Japanese cruiser <i>Nagara</i> light cruiser in the Imperial Japanese Navy

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Japanese cruiser <i>Natori</i>

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This article concerns the naval and land battles of Balikpapan in 1942. For information on the 1945 landings by Australian forces in the same area, see Second Battle of Balikpapan.

Second Battle of the Java Sea

The Second Battle of the Java Sea was the last naval action of the Netherlands East Indies campaign, of 1941–42. It occurred on 1 March 1942, two days after the first Battle of the Java Sea. It saw the end of the last Allied warships operating in the waters around Java, allowing Japanese forces to complete their conquest of the Netherlands East Indies unhindered.

Invasion of Sumatra

The Invasion of Sumatra was the assault by Imperial Japanese forces on the Dutch East Indies that took place from 14 February to 28 March 1942. The invasion was part of the Pacific War in South-East Asia during World War II and led to the capture of the island. The invasion of Sumatra was planned to occur prior to the invasion of Java to destroy the west flank of the allies and to give access to Java.

References

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  9. Muir, Dan (1999–2000). "The Balikpapan Raid". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
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  12. Horner, David (1995). "The Gunners: A History of Australian Artillery". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  13. BBC. Fact File: Battle of Java Sea
  14. L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Rear-Admiral Takeo Takagi". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  15. L, Klemen (1999–2000). "Rear-Admiral Shoji Nishimura". Forgotten Campaign: The Dutch East Indies Campaign 1941–1942.
  16. PacificWrecks.com. "Pacific Wrecks". pacificwrecks.com.
  17. PacificWrecks.com. "Kevin Denlay - Shipwreck Discoveries and SCUBA Diver". www.pacificwrecks.com.
  18. PacificWrecks.com. "Pacific Wrecks - USS Pope DD-225". pacificwrecks.com.
  19. House, © Future Publishing Limited Quay; Ambury, The; Engl, Bath BA1 1UA All rights reserved; number 2008885, Wales company registration. "Java Sea Shipwrecks of World War 2: One of the men who found them reflects on their loss - All About History". www.historyanswers.co.uk.
  20. "Mystery over Dutch WW2 shipwrecks vanished from Java Sea bed". BBC News. 2016-11-16. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  21. correspondent, Oliver Holmes South-east Asia; Harding, Luke (2016-11-16). "British second world war ships in Java Sea destroyed by illegal scavenging". The Guardian. ISSN   0261-3077 . Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  22. https://www.maritiem-erfgoed.nl/sites/default/files/field_attachments/report_verification_mission_feb_2017_java_seapublic_210217.pdf

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