A Japanese torpedo so badly damaged the HOUSTON on the night of Oct. 13, 1944 that the captain of the light cruiser gave the order to “abandon ship.”The first but soon forgotten U.S. naval vessel to bear the name of the Bayou City was a German cargo carrier seized during the First World War. The second was a heavy cruiser christened in 1929 by the daughter of a former mayor of Texas’ biggest town. The USS HOUSTON was a personal favorite of Franklin D. Roosvelt and his choice for four official cruises between 1934 and 1939. After the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the presidential pleasure craft became the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. The Japanese claimed so many times to have sunk the HOUSTON early in the war that American sailors jokingly nicknamed her the “Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast.” But the enemy finally made good on their boast on the tragic night of Mar. 1, 1942.
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