In the Battle of Sunda Strait was a naval battle which occurred during World War II. On the night of February 28-March 1, 1942, the United States cruiser USS Houston and the Australian cruiser HMAS Perth faced a major Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) task force. After a fierce battle of several hours duration, both Allied ships were sunk. Two Japanese ships were sunk by friendly fire.
On February 27, the main American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDACOM) naval force, under Admiral Karel Doorman, sailed northeast from Surabaya to intercept a Japanese invasion fleet. The ABDA force consisted of two heavy cruisers, including USS Houston (under Captain Albert H. Rooks), three light cruisers including HMAS Perth (Captain Hector Waller), and nine destroyers. Only six of the nine 8-inch guns on Houston were operable, since its aft turret had been knocked out in an earlier air attack.
The ABDA force engaged the Japanese force in the Java Sea. The Allied ships were all sunk or dispersed. Houston and Perth both retreated to Tanjung Priok, Java, the main port of Batavia (later Jakarta), where they arrived at 13:30 on February 28.
By chance, just after 22:00, the Japanese 16th Army's Western Java Invasion Convoy — over 50 transports,and including the Army's commander, Lt Gen. Hitoshi Imamura — was entering Bantam Bay, near the northwest tip of Java. The Japanese troop transports were escorted by the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, led by Rear Admiral Kenzaburo Hara and the 7th Cruiser Squadron, under R. Adm. Takeo Kurita. Hara's light cruiser Natori, with the destroyers Harukaze, Hatakaze, Asakaze, Fubuki, Hatsuyuki, Shirayuki, Shirakumo, and Murakumo were closest to the convoy. To the north was V. Adm. Takeo Kurita's 7th Cruiser Squadron; its 2nd Division, the cruisers Mogami and Mikuma, with the destroyer Shikinami flanked the bay to the north.
Slightly further north, though not involved in the action, was the aircraft carrier Ryujo, with the 1st Division of the 7th Cruiser Squadron — Suzuya and Kumano — along with the seaplane carrier Chiyoda, and the destroyers Isonami, Shikinami and Uranami.
Some time around 23:00, the Allied ships were sighted by the patrolling Fubuki, which followed them surreptitiously. At 23:06, when they were about half-way across the mouth of Bantam Bay, Perth sighted a ship about eight kilometres (five mi) ahead, near Sint Nicolaas Point. It was thought at first that the ship was an Australian corvette, but when challenged, it made an unintelligible reply, with a lamp which was the wrong colour, and then turned away, making smoke. The ship was soon identified as a Japanese destroyer (probably Harukaze). Waller reported the contact and ordered his forward turrets to open fire.
In a ferocious night action that ended after midnight, the two Allied cruisers were sunk. A Japanese minesweeper and a transport were sunk by torpedoes from Fubuki. Three other transports— one of which was Ryujo Maru, on which Lt. Gen. Hitoshi Imamura was aboard— were also sunk but later refloated. After Imamura's ship was fatally hit and sank, he had to jump overboard. However a small boat rescued him and brought him ashore. (L.,Klemens,1999-2000)