USS Houston (CL/CA-30), was a Northampton-class cruiser of the United States Navy. She was the second Navy ship to bear the name "Houston".
She was launched by Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Company, Newport News, Virginia on 7 September 1929, sponsored by Elizabeth Holcombe (daughter of Oscar Holcombe, then-mayor of Houston, Texas), and commissioned on 17 June 1930, Captain Jesse Bishop Gay commanding.
The ship was originally classified as a light cruiser (hull number CL-30) because of her thin armor. Houston was redesignated a heavy cruiser (CA-30) on 1 July 1931, as the provisions of the 1930 London Naval Treaty considered ships with 8-inch main guns to be heavy cruisers.Battle of Sunda StraitCaptain Albert H. Rooks, commanding officer of Houston, c. 1940–1942.Main article: Battle of Sunda StraitHouston and Perth reached Tanjong Priok on 28 February, where they attempted to resupply, but were met with fuel shortages and no available ammunition. The two cruisers were ordered to sail to Tjilatjap with Dutch destroyer Evertsen, but departed at 17:00 without Evertsen, which was delayed. The Allies believed that Sunda Strait was free of enemy vessels, with the last intelligence reports indicating that Japanese warships were no closer than 50 miles (43 nmi; 80 km), but a large Japanese force had assembled at Bantam Bay. At 23:06, the two cruisers were off St. Nicholas Point when lookouts on Perth sighted an unidentified ship; when it was realized that she was a Japanese destroyer, Perth engaged. However, as this happened, multiple Japanese warships appeared and surrounded the two Allied ships.The two cruisers evaded the nine torpedoes launched by the destroyer Fubuki. According to ABDA post-battle reports, the cruisers then reportedly sank one transport and forced three others to beach, but were blocked from passing through Sunda Strait by a destroyer squadron, and had to contend with the heavy cruisers Mogami and Mikuma in close proximity. At midnight, Perth attempted to force a way through the destroyers, but was hit by four torpedoes in the space of a few minutes, then subject to close-range gunfire until sinking at 00:25 on 1 March.On board Houston, shells were in short supply in the forward turrets, so the crew manhandled shells from the disabled number three turret to the forward turrets. Houston was struck by a torpedo shortly after midnight, and began to lose headway. Houston's gunners had scored hits on three different destroyers and sunk a minesweeper, but she was struck by three more torpedoes in quick succession. Captain Albert Rooks was killed by a bursting shell at 00:30, and as the ship came to a stop, Japanese destroyers moved in, machine-gunning the decks. A few minutes later, Houston rolled over and sank. Of the 1,061 aboard, 368 survived, including 24 of the 74-man Marine Detachment, only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Of 368 Navy and Marine Corps personnel taken prisoner, 77 (21%) died in captivity
top of page
bottom of page