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Java Sea, Battle of


JAVA SEA, BATTLE OF, an early World War II naval engagement off the northern coast of Java. A fleet comprising American, British, Dutch, and Australian units, under Rear Admiral Karel W. F. M. Doorman of the Netherlands, attempted to halt a Japanese invasion of Java. Trying to locate the Japanese troop transports, Doorman's force, late on 27 February 1942, encountered a Japanese covering force under Rear Admiral T. Takagi. Although the Japanese force was of approximately equal numbers, they alone had air support. The two Allied heavy cruisers, USS Houston and HMS Exeter, were outgunned by two Japanese cruisers. In the first clash, the Exeter was severely damaged, and two Allied destroyers were sunk. Retiring in hope of shaking off Takagi and finding the transports, Doorman lost another destroyer to a mine and, after dark, again ran into Takagi's fleet and lost two light cruisers, including his own flagship. The surviving ships retired. Neither the Houston nor any of the five U.S. destroyers was damaged. However, the following day, as the Houston and the light cruiser HMS Perth tried to escape southward, they encountered the main Japanese armada. Four Japanese transports were sunk, but both the Houston and the Perth were lost, and the Japanese invasion proceeded.


Schultz, Duane P. The Last Battle Station: The Story of the USS Houston. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985.

Thomas, David A. The Battle of the Java Sea. London: Deutsch, 1968; New York: Stein and Day, 1969.

Charles B.MacDonald/a. r.

See alsoAircraft Carriers and Naval Aircraft ; Coral Sea, Battle of the ; Midway, Battle of .

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