Thanks for your reply, Don. I want to answer your question and make a couple of points in response to yours.
I found the figure of 900 rounds of 8" ammunition in one of the logs constructed after the war by either a single survivor or group of survivors (probably all officers and/or senior CPOs). To find that figure is simple, just go to:
specifically "The Wartime Cruise of the U.S.S. Houston"
Now go to the long entry for FEB. 27 and scroll down about half-way to find, "Half the A.A. battery was secured in order to move ammunition from turret 3, which had been useless since the bomb hit, to turrets 1 and 2 which had expended over nine hundred rounds of ammunition. We were dangerously low on 8" and 5" ammunition." The person or persons who contributed postwar to that log were there on Houston, so I don't know the basis of the 900 rounds, bit it's all there in black & blue. Sounds like the total 8" ammunition allotment, doesn't it? Please note the source indicates "dangerously low" rather then "moderately low" or "quite low" or similar modifier for BOTH sizes of shells.
I do, believe me, find all of your infomation on the 8" rounds expended in Houston's two final battles most interesting and again my thanks, but they are, after all, secondary to the thrust of this thread (say that one fast!). The subject of the originating entry is "Additional info re Houston's 5" ammo," and that originating contributor is none other than Melmoth the Wanderer (alias one Don Kehn, Jr.). I think we need to get back on track here, so to quote you:
"MAHER's account states the ship fired about 750 rds of 5" common + about 50 rds of 5" star shell at Sunda Strait, or approx. 800 5" rds in all. That is not a small total, but she had much more than that aboard."
So what is THAT total number of 5" rounds? It has been much hinted at but has never been forthcoming. Perusing past entries in this thread and assuming they are correct or nearly so, we have the expenditures for the following Feb. 1942 battles:
Early February (in which Houston lost the use of her aft main turret): fired 400-some 5" AA (anti-aircraft) shells, most of them punky.
Mid February: at Tjilatjap took on 500-some 5" AA (anti-aircraft) rounds of far better quality left there by light cruiser Biose.
Late February: fired 750 5" common (anti-ship) shells, quality not known.
All of that is fine and good, but it doesn't address the TOTAL number of 5" explosive rounds - AA and common shells - she began the final phase of the campaign with.
As far as history by committee, that seems not relevent here. This is after all a discussion group, with the contributors coming at things from different backgrounds, perspectives, angles, whatever, and trying to determine what actually happened out there. Usually those persons continue to input and interact until they are reasonally certain what was what.