Hell's chorus seemed to fill the air of the bridge of the USS Houston. The screech of shells overhead and the dull thud of successive detonation after detonation somewhere aft cut into the nerves of staff officers more used to tranquil peace-time service.
The Houston's speed was down to half of her maximum. It was still just enough, but no less or escape would become impossible. The zealous training of the damage-control parties brought the dangerous blaze aft under control and the ship righted herself into a false semblance of order, just as a drunk man smartens himself up before collapsing. The end came quickly hastened it must be said by a cruel premature detonation in Houston's "A" turret (incredibly another "666" roll in this bloom'in game at yet another crucial moment!). That put paid to Houston's main 8" batteries. The IJN 5" destroyer batteries tore into her hull causing another hull box to flood and the Houston was reduced to 3cm speed. Too slow, far too slow to escape.
The combination of the above enabled a IJN Long Lance attack of eight torpedoes to be delivered at close range at the now slow target (see above), resulting in (see below):
The demise of the valiant warrior, the USS Houston. There was to be no escape or reprieve for the Dutch Java either, she had one last offensive heave at her antagonists before the power to her guns failed as she received a final fifth hull box damage from those persistent Japanese destroyers.
At the starboard-rear of the engagement the four WWI vintage American destroyers were worsted in a short range fire-fight with two more modern IJN counterparts. The USS Alden was left dead in the water with no guns left, the USS John Ford and USS Paul Jones were at half speed and half guns and had to break back south, leaving only the USS J D Edwards with enough speed to attempt to link up with HMAS Perth. The IJN destroyer IJNS Asashio bore down on her but in act of desperation the J D Edwards put six fish in the water:
One of which connected and broke the IJNS Asashio clean in two. The way was open to link up with the HMAS Perth bar for a IJN light cruiser, the IJNS Naka that stood in the way. The IJNS Naka was however intent on inducing the HMAS Perth to her doom with one last chance of a lucky long range hit to try and slow her down.
Next: Last Dice as Darkness Falls