Naval History and Heritage Command

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1942:  February 27:  Battle of the Java Sea

The Battle of the Java Sea began when the American-British-Dutch-Australian (ABDA) naval command attempted to stop the Japanese invasion of Java on February 27, 1942.   Led by Royal Netherlands Navy Rear Admiral Karel W.F.M. Doorman, the ABDA force was decimated in a seven-hour battle.  Lost in battle were Royal Netherlands cruisers Java and De Ruyter (Doorman's flagship), along with Royal Netherlands destroyer Kortenauer.   The Royal Navy (British) destroyers Electra and Jupiter were also sunk.    Communication difficulties played a large part in the defeat, and the Japanese invasion continued, only delaying the inevitable by one-day.  The cruisers, USS Houston (CA-30), and Australian cruiser, HMAS Perth, would evade being sunk by the Japanese but fate would soon intervene at the Battle of Sunda Strait, February 28-March 1, 1942. 

Image:  Battle of the Java Sea, February 27, 1942.  Night action when the ABDA force was shadowed and attacked by the Japanese.  The Royal Netherlands Navy light cruiser De Ruyter was torpedoed and burst into flames. Australian cruiser, HMAS Perth, following close behind just managed to avoid a collision.  Minutes later the Royal Netherlands light cruiser Java was also torpedoed and exploded.  Courtesy of the Navy Art Collection.  Artwork from the John Hamilton Collection.