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USS Houston wreck confirmed: Watery grave of 700 on Java Sea floor since 1942

USS Houston wreck confirmed by the Navy. Above the USS Houston goes through the Panama Canal during the WWII era.
USS Houston wreck confirmed by the Navy. Above the USS Houston goes through the Panama Canal during the WWII era.
Wikimedia Commons

The ship lying on the floor of the Java Sea is the World War II USS Houston, which was recently confirmed by Hawaii Navy divers and Indonesia officials. The USS Houston was a cruiser that was sunk by the Japanese on Feb. 28, 1942 during the battle of Sunda Strait, reports the Army Times on Aug. 19.

While the wreck has been known for some time, the name of the ship was not. It was Navy divers who recently confirmed the sunken wreck as the USS Houston, according to the Los Angeles Times today.

The wreck on the sea floor is also the watery grave for some 700 sailors and Marines who went down with the ship. With 1,068 on board, the USS Houston went down with only 291 surviving both the attack and becoming prisoners of war.

The condition of the ship was assessed in June and it was determined that this underwater wreck and sacred place for those who died, had been disturbed. Divers found that hull rivets, an unexploded ordnance and a metal plate had been removed from the ship. Oil was also discovered seeping from the hull.

This has prompted officials to work on putting measures into place to avoid any further disturbance of this ship, which is also called “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast.” Both the U.S. and Indonesian officials share a “sense of obligation” to respect the watery grave of the sailors and Marines who lost their lives on that ship and who are down there within the ships hull as their final resting place.

The identification of this ship was made with recorded data for the USS Houston being consistent with what was found on the undersea wreck. Even though the ship is not in American waters, it remains a part of the sovereign property of the U.S., according to the Navy. The Navy also reports that the USS Houston is one of the estimated 17,000 ships and aircraft lying on the bottom of the ocean floors around the world today.

The Navy reports that “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast” is a popular recreational dive site.