This was a GT2 contact in a new play test of Dave Franklin's "Defending the Malay Barrier Campaign.
The Battle of Bali
Time: 1200 hours Wind: Force 5 Speed: 20 knots Direction: East
Max Visibility: 16,000 yards Squalls: None Sea Haze: None
Task Force 5: Rear Admiral Glassford (USN)
Speed: 25 knots Relative Bearing: Dead Ahead Allied Course: 315 degrees
Cruiser Division DesDiv 57 DesDiv 58
USS Houston CA flag USS John D. Edwards DD USS Stewart DD
USS Boise CL USS Alden DD USS Parrott DD
USS Marblehead CL USS Edsall DD USS Barker DD
USS Whipple DD USS Bulmer DD
USS John D. Ford DD
USS Pope DD mechanically aborted
USS Peary DD mechanically aborted
USS Pillsbury DD
Bali Invasion Convoy: Vice Admiral Ozawa
Speed: 15 knots Japanese Course: 45 degrees
Cruiser Division DesDiv 9 IJNS Chitose AV
IJNS Chokai CA flag IJNS Asagumo DD IJNS Hankow Maru AP
IJNS Haruna CA IJNS Minegumo DD
IJNS Natsugumo DD
IJNS Yamagumo DD
Rear Admiral Glassford peered ahead as he searched for the invasion convoy reported to be heading for Bali. There were no squalls or sea haze, but there might as well had been as the visibility barely topped 15,000 yards.
Task Force 5 had fought off repeated torpedo attacks yesterday and Glassford felt certain the Japanese knew he was coming. He expected a cruiser fight and was leading his line astern with his cruisers followed by his destroyers.
Vice Admiral Ozawa in his flagship Chokai looked at the poor visibility with disgust. He wanted a long ran gunnery fight where his superior heavy cruisers would show their worth. As it was he was leading with his destroyers to give his cruisers time to deploy once contact was made.
USS Houston and IJNS Asagumo sited one another at 1218 hours at just over 15,000 yards. Houston opened on Asagumo immediately with her fore turrets and missed.
Asagumo turned to starboard while making smoke. Houston turned to port to unmask her broadside as did Boise behind her. Glassford ordered his destroyers to starboard to try and get behind the Japanese smoke so he could have an idea of what he was facing.
Houston and Boise turned their broadsides on Asagumo while Marblehead fired with her fore turrets at her also. The Americans hit Asagumo twice knocking out her fore gun mount, damaging her hull and reducing her to 29 knots.
Ozawa had turned his cruisers to starboard and expected the still out of site American cruisers to blunder into his broadsides in a few minutes. He also ordered the AV Chitose and the AP Hankow Maru to reverse course until he had a chance to clear the way for them.
Houston and Boise were the only ships that could target Asagumo at this point due to smoke, but they hit her 3 more times knocking out her rear gun mount, damaging her hull twice reducing her to 23 knots. Asagumo found herself crippled at this point, but was able to limp away under smoke.
IJNS Minegumo now took the lead and turned sharply to starboard to head the American destroyer line while laying smoke to cover her two sister destroyers. Glassford also turned sharply to starboard to prevent too great a separation from his destroyers and because the Japanese destroyers were the only enemy ships visible to him. This left Ozawa’s cruisers out of the fight.
Only Boise engaged Minegumo following the turn, but her 15 six inch exacted a cruel punishment knocking out but her Long Lance mounts, setting her afire and damaging a bulkhead and her hull. Minegumo fixed the bulkhead, but between the fires and the fire from all three American cruisers was sunk in the next 6 minutes. Ozawa determined that he could not prevail and aborted the invasion of Bali as did Vice Admiral Kondo with the Banjermasin convoy rather than face both the Americans and the Dutch he knew were coming because of reports from Naval Air.
Vice Admiral Takahashi later admitted he was counting on convoy duties to peel off some of the Allied cruisers. But the actual appearance of Dutch fighters acting as CAP as well as some twelve cruisers in three different sorties bespoke a level of coordination he had not expected at all.