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Australian $5 Coins

2002 Battle of Sunda Strait UNC $5


This $5 bimetallic coin commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Sunda Strait, depicts an image of the ship's bell from the USS Houston in the aluminium bronze centre of the coin. The original ship's bell from the USS Houston was recovered from the wreck in 40 metres of water by Indonesian divers in 1973. It is now displayed atop a monument in Houston, Texas dedicated to the memory of the ship and her crew. A ship's bell removed from the USS Houston prior to WWII is also on display at the M.D. Anderson Library at the University of Houston. The year 1930 is inscribed on the bell to mark the year the cruiser was commissioned.

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II features on the obverse.

Royal Australian Mint Photo

An image of USS Houston's bell is displayed on the coin as a symbol of the Battle of Sunda Strait and to serve as a reminder of the courage and sacrifice of the crews of both ships. With the bell as the centrepiece of the design, this elegant bi-metallic coin features an outer ring of stainless steel, and a centre made from aluminium bronze. The words 'Battle of Sunda Strait - USS Houston - HMAS Perth' and the years '1942' and '2002' are inscribed on the outer stainless steel ring. The $5 legal tender coin has two designs for the outer sleeve, one depicting the Australian flag, and the other the flag of the United States of America.

This battle took place on the night of 28 February and 1 March 1942 in Sunda Strait between Java and Sumatra in the Indonesian Archipelago, as USS Houston and HMAS Perth were endeavoring to reach safer waters in the Indian Ocean. The two ships unexpectedly sailed into the covering force of a Japanese Invasion Fleet, consisting of nearly one dozen destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous torpedo boats and mine sweepers. Both the Houston and the Perth fired aggressively at the attacking Japanese ships from close range. Out-numbered and out-gunned, and the Perth eventually out of ammunition, they were no match for the enemy forces that completely surrounded them. Heavy losses of crew were suffered by both USS Houston and HMAS Perth. Of the Houston's 1,065 crew only 368 survived to suffer as prisoners of war on the infamous Burma Railway. Just 328 of the Perth's crew of 681 escaped the sinking. Four died ashore and 324 became prisoners of war. A further 105 died in captivity and 214 men were repatriated at the end of the war.

Further Reading

HMAS Perth

USS Houston

Nominal Specifications
Denomination: $5
Metal: Centre: Al/Bronze
Outer Ring: Stainless Steel
Mass: 10.80 grams
Diameter: 28.12 mm
Reverse: Vladimir Gottwald
Obverse: Raphael Maklouf