USS Houston - The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast

  • Published on:  2/17/2017
  • This video chronicles the history of USS Houston (CA 30) from commissioning in 1930 to shipwreck discovery in 2014, told through on-camera interviews with Houston Survivor Howard Brooks, Naval History and Heritage Command Historian Robert Cressman and Underwater Archaeologist Alexis Catsambis, Ph.D..

    On February 28, 1942, Houston and Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth came across a major Imperial Japanese Navy task force attempting to make landfall in Bantam Bay. At 11:06 p.m., Perth, after sighting a ship to be believed as an Australian corvette and when challenged made an unintelligible reply, opened fire from the forward turrets. Within an hour of opening fire, Perth would receive multiple torpedo hits to her starboard side causing the ship to sink at approximately 12:25 a.m., March 1, 1942.

    Houston, shortly after Midnight, was struck by a torpedo and began to lose headway. Being short on ammunition, supplies and with a tired crew, she would continue on fighting gallantly. At approximately 12:30 a.m., Captain Albert Rooks, Houston’s commanding officer, was killed by a bursting shell on the ships bridge. As the ship came to a stop, Japanese destroyers moved in, machine-gunning the decks. Shortly afterwards, Houston would roll to the starboard side and sank beneath the waves.

    Of the 1,061 officers and enlisted men, 368 survived, only to be captured by the Japanese and interned as Prisoners of War. 79 died while in captivity. 289 survivors were liberated from various POW camps in September 1945, when the world would finally know the true story of what happened to USS Houston (CA 30) and her crew.

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