The Battle of Surabaya East
Time: 2000 hours Wind: Force 5/SE Wind Speed: 20 knots Sky: Overcast
Max Visibility: 16,000 yards Dusk Reduction: 1,000 yards Squalls: Yes/2
Squall Visibility: 4,000 yards Sea Haze: No
Admirals Glassford USN and Palliser RN were not in a good mood. They had been harassed by Japanese LBA all day with HMS Dragon having been reduced to 13 knots from four hits. Admiral Glassford had felt compelled to send Dragon back to Surabaya with HMS Tenedos as escort. HMS Exeter and Mauritius were still suffering from hull and turret damage from their last engagement. Never the less they needed to be at sea. The Japanese had at least two convoys at sea aimed at Dilli and Surabaya itself. The Japanese had to be stopped if ABDAFlot was to have any chance of surviving. Floatplanes reported a Japanese force of cruisers and destroyers dead ahead; the ABDA force of 3 American cruisers, 2 British cruisers, 4 British destroyers and 7 Dutch destroyers pressed on, on course 045 at 25 knots.
Admirals Kurita, Kenzaburo, Tanaka and Nishimura were very happy, naval LBA had reported bombing and damaging at least one cruiser in the ABDA force ahead. If it was not for the loss of a turret in Mogami and two in Kumano it would have been perfect. Admiral Kurita’s force of 3 heavy cruisers, 3 light cruisers and ten destroyers steamed on at 25 knots on course 135.
At 2018 hours USS Boise punched through a large squall to see three Mogami class heavy cruisers crossing her tee at 12,000 yards. Boise opened rapid fire on the lead cruiser (Mikuma) and a Nagara class light cruiser trailing them. Boise hit the leading cruiser thrice with her fore turrets and the light cruiser four times with her rear turrets. All three heavies returned fire hitting Boise at least four times knocking out her engines and a fore turret. Boise went dead in the water but she had started fires in both cruisers she hit and the light cruiser staggered out of line to port.
Boise’s black gang trying to fix her engines broke one beyond repair and Boise stayed DIW. USS Phoenix, next in line swung out to starboard to avoid the Boise and the long column of ABDA ships followed her round as they could not see Boise because of the squall. That turn coupled with the squall moving at 10 knots to the SE caused Phoenix and Marblehead to pop out of the squall at 29 knots. Phoenix fired at the leading Japanese heavy cruiser (who had put her first fire out) causing two more fires and her main battery fire to slacken considerably. Marblehead opened on the second cruiser and her hits appeared to bounce off. The Japanese return fire was ineffective.
Boise’s black gang managed to fix one of her damaged engines and she got under way again at 5 knots and turned to starboard unmasking her full broadside. The Japanese launched torpedoes from at least two of their cruisers at Boise. Phoenix pummeled the leading Japanese heavy and she (Mikuma) slid under the waves at 2042 hours. Marblehead, Exeter and Mauritius (now, all out of the squall) all pounded on the second Japanese cruiser and her main battery fire appeared to slacken. Boise fired her remaining four turrets at the trailing Japanese heavy cruiser and set her afire. Return fire from the Japanese heavies hit Phoenix in the hull and knocked out all of Exeter’s turrets. It was looking pretty glum for the Japanese as they seemed to be down to four functioning turrets between two cruisers when Admiral Palliser’s flag ship, HMS Exeter failed her morale. The British cruiser division then refused action and Admiral Glassford felt compelled to break off the fight (three failing die rolls for morale will do that). This aborted the sweep. The Japanese took Surabaya and Dili completing their conquest of the DEI and won the campaign for the first time using the standard start option. The Japanese torpedoes missed Boise astern and everything else in the water.