The two Battle of Sunda Strait commemorative coins pay tribute to the USS Houston and the HMAS Perth. The first coin is a proof piece made from aluminium bronze featuring depictions of the two ships. The second coin is a bi-metal piece (aluminum bronze and stainless steel) that features an depiction of the bell from the U.S.S Houston.
Sunda Strait is a channel of water between Sumatra and Java, Netherlands East Indies. Late February 1942, a Japanese amphibious force was preparing to invade Java. Meanwhile, An Allied force of five cruisers and nine destroyers engaged the Japanese in the Java Sea. Two Dutch cruisers and four destroyers were sunk. The USS Houston and HMAS Perth both retreated to Tanjung Priok, Java, the main port of Batavia (now Jakarta). Later that day, Houston and Perth received orders to sail through Sunda Strait to Tjilatjap, on the south coast of Java. Airforce reconnaissance had passed information to the Allied force that the Sunda Strait was clear of enemy craft but the report was 24 hours out of date. Up to date reconnaissance had spotted the Japanese forces but the USS Houston and the HMAS Perth did not receive the information. Upon entering the area, they encountered the Japanese force and opened fire. A battle ensued but they were hopelessly outnumbered with the loss of some 350 men from HMAS Perth 1 whilst another 300 survived but were taken POW. The USS Houston fared even worse as 696 were killed and another 368 others were taken POW. It is thought that the total losses for Allied forces during the battle were 1071 killed, 675 prisoners of war (POW), 1 heavy cruiser sunk, 1 light cruiser sunk and 1 destroyer sunk. The Japanese suffered minimal losses with 10 killed and 37 wounded. Their heaviest loss was a Japanese minelayer which was sunk by 'friendly fire'.