The Battle of Bankjermasin-February 1942
Time: 0400 hours Wind: Force 5 from the SE Skies: Overcast
Max Visibility: 30,000 yards 5 squalls Bearing to Enemy: 4 points to port
RNN Heading: 45 degrees Speed: 25 knots
IJN Heading: 225 degrees Speed: 15 knots
Royal Netherlands Navy Striking Force: Rear Admiral Doorman
Cruiser Squadron Destroyer Division D2
CL HrMs De Ruyuter Flag DD HrMs Banckert
CL HrMs Tromp DD HrMs Kortenaer
CLAA HrMs Jacob van Heemskerk DD HrMs Piet Hein
Destroyer Division D1 DD MrMs Witte de With
DD HrMs Evertsen
DD HrMs Van Ghent
DD HrMs Van Nes
Banjermasin Invasion Convoy: Vice Admiral Ozawa
Cruiser Squadron 9th Destroyer Division
CA IJNS Chokai Flag DD IJNS Asagumo
CA IJNS Haguro DD IJNS Minegumo
1 Transport DD IJNS Natsugumo
DD IJNS Yamagumo
Dawn broke with an overcast sky, but the visibility was 30,000 yards. All was not clear sailing as there were several squalls ahead. Rear Admiral Doorman scanned the horizon for the Japanese to no avail. His striking force was arrayed in columns with his destroyer divisions to either flank of his cruiser squadron and echeloned back. He was short a cruiser and a destroyer. HrMs Java had suffered a break down, reducing her to twenty knots and he had detached her and the destroyer HrMs Issac Sweers to return to Batavia.
He skirted the squall with his cruisers squadron and starboard destroyer division; but his port destroyer division entered the squall and literally ran into the Japanese. All three of the destroyers (HrMs Evertsen, Van Ghent and Van Nes) entering the squall collided with the leading Japanese ships (2 heavy cruisers and a destroyer). Van Ghent and Van Nes each suffered 3 hits to their hull and damage to their engines while Evertsen received 2 hits to her hull. The Japanese ships (IJNS Chokai, Haguro and Asagumo) suffered a hull hit apiece in return.
The Japanese cruisers and their lead destroyer emerged from the squall and after all that paint scraping, rivet head popping and plates being stove in; gunnery seemed appropriate.
HrMs Van Nes and the trailing destroyers of the starboard division (HrMs Piet Hein & Witte de With) fired at and hit IJNS Chokai in her hull and knocked out her rear turret. Chokai returned the favor hitting Witte de With four times in the hull and her engines.
HrMs Van Ghent and the leading destroyers of the starboard division (HrMs Banckert & Kortenaer) hit IJNS Haguro in the hull. Haguro’s return fire hit Van Ghent’s rear gun mount and damaged a bulkhead.
HrMs Evertsen along with the rear guns of the cruisers HrMs De Ruyter, Tromp and Jacob van Heemskerk hit IJNS Asagumo four times knocking out her rear gun mount, damaging her hull and her engines. Asagumo’s return fire knocked out Evertsen’s depth charge racks.
At this point Admiral Doorman turned his cruisers 8 points to port to open up his broadsides while he went after the transports he assumed were trailing the Japanese cruisers and destroyers. His port destroyer division tried to run but their damage prevented them keeping with the squall leaving them exposed. The Japanese cruisers turned to starboard and their destroyers reversed course while laying smoke to cover the lone transport they were escorting.
Japanese fire sunk the Evertsen while the Dutch cruisers pummeled the now leading Yamagumo into a DIW wreck at point blank range while crossing her tee.
The starboard Dutch destroyer division also reversed course to go after the transport but Banckert collided with the sinking Evertsen suffering damage to her hull. In the ensuing exchange of fire Banckert received an engine hit, lost all of her torpedoes and both of her rear gun mounts while hitting IJNS Minegumo three times knocking out her rear gun mount and damaging her hull.
The Dutch cruiser column now blundered into the fire of the Japanese cruisers while pursuing that pesky transport. De Ruyter got off with a single hull hit, but Tromp lost all her armament and took hits to her hull that knocked her DIW and damaged a bulkhead.
The Dutch doggedly pursued the transport sinking her, but losing De Ruyter, Tromp, Jacob van Heemskerk, Banckert, Piet Hein, Witte de With, Van Ghent and Van Nes in the process. Only the Kortenaer reduced to 23 knots with an unrepairable engine hit and no torpedoes escaped. The Japanese lost the Yamagumo and the rest of their cruisers and destroyers were knocked about.
Rear Admiral Doorman showed his historical dogged determination to abort Japanese invasions and paid the historical price. The Dutch Navy now consists of Java and Isacc Sweers as Japanese LBA found and sunk Kortenaer.
This was another battle in a play test of Dave Franklin’s “Defending the Malay Barrier Campaign”.