Escape from Java
The Extraordinary World War II Story of the USS Marblehead
The old light cruiser Marblehead was living out her final years of naval service as a member of the United States Asiatic Fleet in 1941. The small group of mostly antiquated ships based in the Philippines sailed the waters of East Asia to show the American flag in places like China, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore. The sudden eruption of World War II in the Pacific put the warship on the front lines of the conflict as Imperial Japan unleased a series of devastating attacks across the region.
On the morning of February 4, 1942, the warship was surprised by Japanese planes northeast of Java. Two large bombs slammed into Marblehead causing fires, casualties, and knocking out her steering gear. A third bomb exploded close by underwater. The near miss ripped a large gash into her hull allowing a torrent of water to rush inside the ship.
Escape from Java takes the reader all throughout the ship as the story unfolds – next to gunners toiling to keep their guns firing, with medical staff tending to the wounded, and alongside damage control sailors working in flooded compartments. The damage was critical, so much so the Japanese radioed they had sunk the ship. In fact, through courage, sacrifice, and super-human effort, Marblehead would successfully make a harrowing 13,000 mile journey back to the US.