Final Survey Report of the WWII USS Houston Shipwreck Finished

U.S. Navy underwater archeologists from the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) have completed the final survey report of the shipwreck of the World War II cruiser USS Houston (CA 30).

The team’s interim report was finalized earlier this summer, confirming the site’s identity and documenting conclusive evidence of a pattern of unauthorized disturbance of the grave site. While the findings remain intact from the interim report, this final report benefits from additional archival research and more exhaustively details the condition of the wreck.

As recently as October, Sailors and Military Sealift Command (MSC) civilian mariners assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), representatives of the U.S. embassy in Jakarta, and naval officers from Australia and Indonesia paid their respects to the crews of USS Houston (CA 30) and HMAS Perth (D 29) during a wreath laying ceremony Oct. 14, at the site of the sunken ships.

The original underwater survey was conducted as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014 exercise in June, U.S. Navy divers from Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) One Company 1-5, along with personnel from the Indonesian navy, surveyed the wreck during a joint training evolution. Over the course of 19 dive excursions, both ends of the wrecked vessel were marked with buoys and the exposed port side, as well as the deck, was documented using video recording.

The site of the sunken ship is the final resting place of approximately 650 Sailors and Marines. The assessment noted there were indications that unknown persons illegally removed hull rivets and a metal plate from the ship, as well as engaged in other unauthorized activities. U.S. and Indonesian representatives are currently coordinating to develop measures to limit continued disturbance of the site.

Houston, nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast,” was sunk in combat during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942. Capt. Albert H. Rooks, the ship’s commanding officer who was killed in action, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism, while USS Houston was awarded two battle stars, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation.

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Press release, Image: US Navy

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