NEWS | June 13, 2014

Underwater Portion of WWII-era USS Houston Survey Completed

By Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs

 U.S. Navy and Indonesian divers concluded a training evolution June 12 as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014 exercise series during which they surveyed the World War II wreck of the cruiser USS Houston (CA 30).

Operating from the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50), divers from both navies conducted the wreck survey and a series of training evolutions.

During multiple dives on the wreck over the course of three days, divers collected images and data that will help to determine the condition of the USS Houston, which is the final resting site for the more than 700 Sailors and Marines who died when the ship was sunk in 1942.

"We're grateful for the tremendous support the Indonesian navy provided during this diving exercise and look forward to building on the bonds that were formed here," said Rear Adm. Cindy Thebaud, commander, Task Force 73 and commander, Naval Forces CARAT. "Great care was taken to respect the graves of fallen shipmates - a responsibility all professional navies take seriously," she said.

The Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) at the Washington Navy Yard will analyze the data and imagery collected during the survey. Dr. Alexis Catsambis, an NHHC underwater archaeologist who served as an advisor on the dive, will conduct the review. While at the survey site, Catsambis provided operations planning support for the survey, which included inspections by divers, sonar surveys, and remote-operated-vehicle operations. After completing its review, NHHC will report detailing the findings on the ship's condition.

Houston was sunk during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait Feb. 28, 1942. Resting off the west coast of Java, Indonesia, the ship, which remains sovereign property of the United States, is a popular recreational dive site.

Worldwide, the Department of the Navy estimates more than 17,000 sunken ships and aircraft rest on the ocean floor. While it is not feasible to survey all wrecks, U.S. Navy policy recognizes that the sea has always been a fit and final resting place for service members who made the ultimate sacrifice. These historic sites form an important cultural heritage that deserves respect and solemn respect.