Scuba Team Will Assess Wreckage of USS Houston

The USS Houston was shipwrecked near Indonesia early in the Second World War with hundreds of passengers aboard. After the passage of so many years, following numerous civilian attempts to explore the wreckage and salvage souvenirs, the United States military will be sending out a Navy diving team to assess the remains of the USS Houston and whether or not anything salvageable still remains of the ship.

The ship is known casually as the Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast, and was wrecked in the course of battle in February of 1942. While the United States Navy will be carrying out the bulk of the diving expedition, they will also be working with naval representatives from Indonesia in assessing the USS Houston. The ship had amazingly managed to evade destruction by their primary aggressor in the Battle of the Sunda Strait, which was a destroyer from Japan called Fubukim. Unfortunately, other ships were quick to the call and sunk the American ship as well as the HMAS Perth from Australia.

Only a few hundred out of more than one thousand men on the crew managed to live through the battle. Even many of those did not survive the Second World War altogether, as they were taken captive by the Japanese and many crewmen of the USS Houston were killed. A great deal of tools, from data collection tactics to underwater remote vehicles, will be used in the investigation to see how badly the ship has been scavenged and if there is any point to maintaining ownership of the wreckage.

There are several thousand such wrecks between naval vessels and crashed aircraft all over the globe, a majority of which have not undergone such thorough investigation. Many who were aboard the USS Houston when it was destroyed are hoping for the investigation to result in the burial of any fallen comrades who went down with the ship. Some of them have never really spoken about their experiences, but now find themselves opening up to the press as the ship’s assessment becomes a well-documented excursion, the Fox News reports.

The USS Houston may be underwater, but the memories of those who were aboard when they received the call to abandon ship remain afloat. The surviving men are solemn in speaking of their experiences aboard the sinking vessel, and one can only hope that any civilian scavenging of the wreckage was done out of respect rather than avarice. If too much has been taken, the United States Navy might decide to leave the USS Houston where it currently resides at the bottom of the sea.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE