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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, 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 after Germany and Holland were at 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, while Java is being refit, it participates in a search for the Admiral Scheer rumored to be operating in the Indian Ocean, but nothing was found. On April 23, Java leaves Suva with two merchants, bound for Brisbane, Australia.

In July, rendez-vous in Torres Strait with the passengership Jagersfontein (10083 gt), which has a contingent of American aviators on board bound for China AVG "Flying Tigers" and escorts the ship to Java.

During November, Java is on escort duty between Suva and Soerabaja

On December 8, when the Netherlands declares war on Japan, Java was enroute to Singapore where she was to operate under command of the Royal Navy under Admiral Layton. The Java is part of most convoys bound for Singapore until early February, but also makes a trip to Cocos Island.

December 12, Java departs Singapore to rendez-vous with convoy SM 1 (3 British, 1 Greek and 2 American ships). She escorts it from December 13 - 15, with the Dutch destroyer Evertsen, the Australian armed merchant cruiser Kanimbla, and the British destroyers HMS Encounter, HMS Stronghold and HMS Tenedos.

On December 31, Java is part of the escort for convoy BM 9B, but has to abort due to propellor damage.

On January 18, 1942 Java and the destroyers Evertsen and Van Nes make rendez-vous with convoy MS-2, which consisted of ocean liner HMS Aquitania and HMAS Canberra as escorts 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 then leaves for Singapore (now designated MS 2A) where it arrives safely on January 24 with Java escorting.

Next on January 26, a report came in about a Japanese concentration of ships off western Borneo, near Api passage. Admiral Helfrich orders the cruisers Java and Tromp with destroyers Banckert and Piet Hein to intercept and destroy this convoy. Later reports show the convoy is only one freighter and numerous very small vessels, after which the Dutch ships retreat.

On January 31, Java escorts convoy DM 2, and arrives in Singapore on February 5. Java had detached itself on February 4 due to fuel shortage.

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

On February 14, the fleet leaves Oosthaven in the afternoon 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 the American Barker, Stewart, Bulmer, John D. Edwards, Pillsbury and Parrott. The ships head for an area notorious for navigational hazards.

On February 15, at about 0430 hours in the morning, the destroyer Van Ghent hits the 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
During the morning of February 27, 1942, the striking force is attacked by Japanese aircraft at 0900 in and Jupiter suffers a bomb near miss and afterwards arrives in 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
January 3, 2021



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