|Nachi was the flagship of Vice Admiral Takeo Takagi, commander of Main Body, Eastern Invasion Support Force.
The 5th Cruiser Squadron was down to just Nachi and Haguro, as Ashigara was acting as flagship for Vice Admiral
Ibo Takahashi, overall Southern Force commander, and the Myoko was at Sasebo for repairs. The eastern invasion
force sailed on February 19 but their southward passage was not confirmed by ABDA command until February 24.
Admiral Doorman’s strike force consisted of the heavy cruisers, HMS Exeter, USS Houston, the Dutch light
cruisers, Java and De Ruyter, along with the HMAS Perth. With minimal reconnaissance the allied force started
making a series of sweeps in an effort to find Japanese troop convoys. Doorman’s cruiser were just returning to
port at 14:00 February 27, when Admiral Helfrich ordered him to immediately sortie against the eastern Japanese
troop convoy. The ships and their crews were tired but Doorman headed back out to sea. It was not long until he
ran into the Japanese forces screening the troop convoy. Further north of the Japanese forces were Nachi and
Haguro, along with four destroyers. At 15:47 Nachi and Haguro opened fire on Houston and Exeter. Nachi scored
the first serious hit at 16:38 when she set Exeter afire. Two minutes later, one of the torpedoes from Haguro’s
spread blew up the Dutch destroyer Kortenaer.Contact was broken and the damaged Exeter detached to head for
safety. At 22:33 when the Nachi, Haguro, Jintsu and eight destroyers regained contact with the allies there were
just the Houston and three light cruisers left in the allied force. In this segment of the battle the Nachi and Haguro
engaged the four allied cruisers by themselves. Long range gunfire again failed to hit on either side but then
Japanese fired more torpedoes, eight from Nachi and four from Haguro. As they would continue to prove through
1942 and 1943 the 24-inch Japanese Long Lance torpedoes were the battle winners for the Japanese Navy. One hit
De Ruyter and she soon sank, taking Admiral Doorman with her. In a few minutes another struck Java and she
quickly sank. The surviving Houston and Perth broke contact and headed back to Batavia on the western end of
Java, while the Exeter, Encounter and US destroyer Pope were at Surabaya on the north center coast of Java.
On the evening of February 28 the Exeter force put to sea again with orders to escape to Ceylon. Waiting for them
were Nachi, Haguro and two destroyers. On March 1 at 09:00 the Nachi and Haguro spotted the Exeter group. For
the next 40 minutes the Nachi and Haguro maneuvered until they had cut off Exeter from returning to Surabaya.
Then the other two cruisers of the class, Ashigara, Myoko and two destroyers appeared in the west. Now all four
members of the Myoko class had the crippled HMS Exeter and two destroyers boxed in a trap. At 09:40 both sides
started firing. The Ashigara and Myoko were to the north of Exeter and the Nachi and Haguro to the south.
Torpedoes from either or both Nachi and Haguro struck Exeter and she sank at 11:30. At 11:35 Encounter went
down due to hits from Ashigara and Myoko. The USS Pope was the last to go, when she too succumbed to
overwhelming fire at around 12:05. The Battle of the Java Sea had lasted two days and was an overwhelming
victory for the Japanese Navy. In June 1942 Nachi was selected as flagship 5th Fleet in the Aleutian landings under
Vice Admiral Hosogawa, as a diversionary operation to the main thrust at Midway. As flagship of 5th Fleet Nachi
remained in the north and did not participate in the Guadalcanal campaign. Nachi and Maya escorted reinforcements
to Attu in the Aleutians from March 7 to 13, 1943 and on the 23rd of the month departed on another escort
mission. On March 27, 1943 the two cruisers made contact with USS Salt Lake City and USS Richmond. In this
engagement, known as the Battle of the Komandorski Islands, the out-gunned USN force acted very aggressively.
Vice Admiral Hosogawa, 5th Fleet commander aboard Nachi, acted more defensively in that he blocked any
approach to the three troop ships that were being escorted. The battle was another long-range gunnery duel in
daylight, lasting almost four hours. Salt Lake City was heavily hit and if the Japanese cruisers had closed with the
two American cruisers, they probably could have sunk her. As it was Hosogawa stayed with his transports. No
ships were sunk for either side, although Maya fired 904 8-inch shells and Nachi 707 shells. They also launched
twenty-four torpedoes, all of which missed at the long range of the engagement. Nachi was hit by five five-inch
shells from Salt Lake City, one of which penetrated the forward face of #1 turret and jammed it. Hosogawa was
replaced as Fleet commander after this battle.