|Tandjong Priok is one of two large ports situated on the northern shore of Java. It is in fact the port for Batavia, in a similar way as Fremantle is to Perth.
There was not much in the way of military facilities there. The first seaplane base in the NEI, initially erected in 1918 for the KNIL airforce, and taken over by the Dutch naval air service after the KNIL ceased using floatplanes, was in a deteriorated state in 1940. After the outbreak of war with Germany, the base was again erected, and made suitable to accommodate some 10 to 20 flying boats of the Dutch MLD. In December 1941, there was a group of Consolidated Catalinas stationed here.
As the war progressed in the NEI, the allied forces gradually withdrew to Java. Tandjong Priok, as one of the main ports on Java felt this by the increase in merchant shipping in the early months of 1942. The climax came in mid February, when no less than 146 ships were present, unloading or waiting to be unloaded. In addition, the Western Striking Force, a scratch-collection of Allied warships, was stationed here to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet for Western Java. It is surprising that Tandjong Priok was not attacked prior to February 25th, when a devastating attack destroyed many of the oil tanks.
The port remained in operation until early March, when the order was given to destroy anything of value. Several merchant ships and warships were used to block the entrance to the harbor, and with success. During this stage, only a few ships attempted a breakout through Sunda Strait, but only one merchant ship (the Dutch Bantam) managed to get through. The flying boats had already been withdrawn by late February.