Navy: Java Sea Wreck Is Grave of 700

USS Houston was lost in 1942 battle

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 19, 2014 3:28 AM CDT | Updated Aug 23, 2014 11:53 AM CDT

(Newser) – More than 70 years after the heavy cruiser nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast" was sunk by the Japanese, divers have confirmed that they have found its wreck. The USS Houston was found in the Java Sea; officials say there is oil seeping from the hull and the site has been disturbed, with unexploded ordnance removed from the ship, the AP reports. The wreck is the grave of around 700 sailors and Marines and the commander of the US Pacific Fleet says the US will work with the Indonesian Navy to protect the site from further disturbance.

Surveying the site "was only the first step in partnering to respect those sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure the freedoms and security that we richly enjoy today," the commander said in a statement. The ship went down during the Battle of Sunda Strait in February, 1942. Out of 1,068 crewmen on board, just 291 survived and were not taken as prisoners of war. The cruiser's commander, Capt. Albert H. Rooks, was killed during the battle and was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. (Last month, a team looking for shipwrecks in Lake Ontario discovered a crashed military plane.)

Military officers and a US diplomat pass a wreath to sailors assigned to the Mobile Diving Salvage Unit near Java, Indonesia.
Military officers and a US diplomat pass a wreath to sailors assigned to the Mobile Diving Salvage Unit near Java, Indonesia.   (AP Photo/US Navy)
An American flag sits on top of a program during the USS Houston CA-30 Survivors Association and Next Generations Memorial Service in 2008.
An American flag sits on top of a program during the USS Houston CA-30 Survivors Association and Next Generations Memorial Service in 2008.   (AP Photo/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson)
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