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  Hr. Ms. Java
Koninklijke Marine
(Royal Netherlands Navy)
Light cruiser

8,078 Tons
155.30m / 16m / 6.22m
10 x Bofors 5.9"/15cm guns
8 x 40mm AA guns
8 x 50 cal MG
2 x Fokker C-11W floatplanes

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RAN February 15, 1942

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Kevin Denlay 2002

Ship History
Designed in 1913 by Germaniawerft, Kiel. Laid down on May 31, 1916 at Koninklijke Mij De Schelde (Vlissingen) . Launched on August 6, 1921. Comissioned on May 1, 1925.

On December 4, 1928 participates in fleet review at Yokohama. On May 20, 1937 participates in fleet review at Spithead.

In 1937, modernized at Naval Dockyard in Den Helder, Holland. The modifications include adding an AA-battery of 4 double Bofors 40 mm-guns, replacing the fire control system with a new Hazemeyer set and shortening the masts. On January 3, 1938 recomissioned and deployed to Gibraltar Strait to escort Dutch ships. On May 4, 1938 departs via the Suez Canal for the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia).

During April 1940, Java and De Ruyter, the supplyship Zuiderkruis and two divisions of submarines are on stand-by in the Java sea after rumours about a Japanese fleetconcentration near Formosa, that proves to be untrue. On April 27, 1940 Captain Ph.B.M. Van Straelen RNN takes command.

Wartime History
On May 10, 1940 when Germany and Netherlands were at a state of war, Java is instructed to capture German freighters at Padang. A raiding party boards and captures: Bitterfeld (7659 gt), Wuppertal (6737 gt) and Rheinland (6622 gt).

Next on January 18, 1941 Java makes here first convoy trip from the Ajoe archipelago with the Brastagi (9247 tons), Kota Nopan (7332 gross tons), Kota Baroe (7281 gt) and Kota Tjandi (7295 gt), but the convoy was dissolved on January 23 at 03.00 S, 161.25 E.

During March 1941, while Java is being refit, participates in a search for the Admiral Scheer rumored to be operating in the Indian Ocean but finds. On April 23, 1941 Java leaves Suva with two merchants, bound for Brisbane. In July 1941, in the Torres Strait rendezvous with passenger ship Jagersfontein (10083 gt) with a contingent of American aviators bound for China to serve in the American Volunteer Group (AVG) "Flying Tigers" and escorts the vessel to Java.

During November 1941, Java performs escort duty between Suva and Soerabaja.

On December 8, 1941 at the start of the Pacific War, the Netherlands declares war on Japan while Java is enroute to Singapore where she was to operate under command of the Royal Navy under Admiral Layton. During December 1941 until early February 1942, Java is part of most convoys bound for Singapore and makes a trip to Cocos Island.

On December 12, 1941 Java departs Singapore and the next day rendezvous with convoy SM-1 comprised of three British, one Greek and two American ships with escorts Evertsen, Australian armed merchant cruiser Kanimbla, HMS Encounter, HMS Stronghold and HMS Tenedos. Java escorts for three days until December 15, 1941. Next, on December 31, 1941 Java is part of the escort for convoy BM-9B but aborts due to propellor damage.

On January 18, 1942 Java with destroyers Evertsen and Van Nes as escorts rendezvous with convoy MS-2 including HMS Aquitania and HMAS Canberra bound for Singapore. The convoy arrives in Ratai Bay on Sumatra where the troops transfer to six smaller Dutch KPM-steamers and one small British ship. This convoy now designated MS-2A departs for Singapore arriving January 24, 1942.

On January 26, 1942 a report about a Japanese concentration of ships off western Borneo near Api Passage. Admiral Helfrich orders cruisers Java and Tromp plus destroyers Banckert and Piet Hein to intercept and destroy the enemy force. Later reports show the convoy is only a freighter and numerous very small vessels and the Allied force withdraws. On January 31, 1942 Java escorts convoy DM-2 bound for Singapore with Java detaching four days later due to fuel shortage.

On February 13, 1942 in the afternoon, Java joins the Eastern Striking Force with De Ruyter and Tromp under Rear-Admiral Doorman while it transits the Sunda Strait. This force is enroute to intercept a Japanese convoy bound for Palembang. Doorman decides to wait for destroyers to assist him and plots a course for Oosthaven on Sumatra. On arrival, heavy cruiser HMS Exeter and the light cruiser HMAS Hobart join while the destroyers arrive the next day.

On February 14, 1942 in the afternoon the force departs Oosthaven bound for for Gaspar Straits including Java, De Ruyter, Tromp, HMS Exeter and HMAS Hobart along with the Dutch destroyers Van Ghent, Kortenaer, Piet Hein and Banckert and U.S. Navy (USN) destroyers including USS Barker (DD-213), USS Stewart (DD-224), USS Bulmer (DD-222, USS John D. Edwards (DD-216), USS Pillsbury (DD-227) and USS Parrott (DD-218). The warships are headed for an area notorious for navigational hazards.

On February 15, 1942 at 4:30am the destroyer Van Ghent hits Bamidjo Reef in Stolze Strait. Doorman had ordered a relatively dangerous formation with the four Dutch destroyers steaming alongside eachother. Banckert and the American destroyers could barely miss the reef. Departing Stolze Strait at about 0800 hours, the fleet sets a western course about 45 minutes later. Spotted by a Japanese seaplane from heavy cruiser Chokai at 0920 hours. A few hours later, seven B5N Kates from Ryūjō drop bombs, but none score hits. They were later reinforced by numerous other aircraft, but no ships sustain substaintial damage.

The next day, the Striking force enters Tandjong Priok (Batavia) at 0830 except for the Java and destroyers, which have a smaller oil capacity. These ships refuel in Ratai Bay on Sumatra from the Dutch tanker Tan 1, then arrive at Tjilatjap on February 17.

On February 18, 1942 departed Tjiltjap in the evening for an attack on Japanese forces landing at Bali. Accompanied by destroyers Kortenaer, Piet Hein, Ford and USS Pope. The first ships leave the harbor safely, but Kortenaer becomes stranded on a sandbar and has to wait for the tide to become freed.

Battle of Badung Strait
On February 19, participates in the night action off Bali during the Battle of Badung Strait. Java was hit by a 4.7" shell, wounded two men and doing minor damage. The next day, arrives at Soerabaja.

Afterwards, on February 25, striking force of crusiers Java, De Ruyter and USS Houston plus seven destroyers departs in the evening to sweep off the Madoera coast. No ships are sighted, the ships arrive in Soerabaja on the 26th. That night, the force participates in a night sweep in the Java Sea.

Battle of the Java Sea
On February 27, 1942 at 9:00am the strike force is attacked by Japanese aircraft and Jupiter suffers near miss from a bomb and afterwards reaches Soerabaja. That evening, departs to intercept several convoys heading for Java. The striking force was spotted and engaged by the Japanese covering force, consisting of heavy cruisers Nachi and Haguro plus two light cruisers and 14 destroyers during the Battle of the Java Sea.

Sinking History
Hr Ms De Ruyter and Hr Ms Java were hit minutes apart by 24" torpedoes fired from Japanese Cruisers Nachi and Haguro around midnight. Java was hit in the aft ammunition storage and exploded. The anti-aircraft guns caught fire and the ship's stern broke off near the long room, flooding the aft engine room and causing a list to port. All electrical equipment shut down and the only thing the crew could do, was to abandon ship as soon as possible. No boats could be lowered without electricity, so all possible life vests and rafts were thrown overboard. Java sank in about fifteen minutes, taking 512 crew members to the bottom, including Captain Ph.B.M. van Straelen. Wartime sinking location was recorded as roughly 06.00 S, 112.05 E.

On December 1, 2002 discovered by divers from MV Empress and using side-scan sonar and dived to positively identify the shipwreck, lying is on her starboard side off Bawean Island in the Java Sea.

Expedition member Kevin Denlay reports that although the team's principal objective was to locate HMS Exeter, sunk two days later, they were thrilled to find the two Dutch cruisers instead.

Between 2002 to 2016, the shipwreck was also dived by Indonesian salvage divers that illegally removed scrap metal and completely scrapped the shipwreck by November 2016. During November 2016, the Netherlands Defence Ministry said in a statement: “The wrecks of HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java have seemingly gone completely missing. A large piece is also missing of HNLMS Kortenaer.”

The Guardian "Mystery as wrecks of three Dutch WWII ships vanish from Java seabed" November 16, 2016
"The [Netherlands defence] ministry said in a statement: “The wrecks of HNLMS De Ruyter and HNLMS Java have seemingly gone completely missing. A large piece is also missing of HNLMS Kortenaer.”
History of War: "Java Sea Shipwrecks of World War 2: One of the men who found them reflects on their loss" by James Hoare November 23, 2016
Thanks to Kevin Denlay for discovery information and all photos.

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Last Updated
February 28, 2021



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