I've been thinking about this matter, but I keep coming up with more questions than answers. I guess for starters, how many 5-inch/25 rounds were unloaded from USS Boise? Five hundred rounds sounds like a nice "round" figure for a damaged ship still very much in the danger zone, and very possibly would still have to fight for her survival (not necessarily relevant to the argument, but after touching in at Colombo and undergoing a month in dry dock in Bombay, Boise made her way back through the Indian Ocean to Oz, and to be sure, she could have replenished her 5-inch ammo in India). But, as a favorite columnist I enjoyed as an undergrad wrote as his signature expression, I digress.
However many rounds Boise felt safe in unloading in Tjilatjap thus impacted on the number loaded by Houston. In those 500 rounds, had the heavy cruiser taken 'em all, or most, or half, or whatever?
Just to recap quickly, Houston fired off 400-some deteriorated shells at Flores Sea, thus had room for at least 400 rounds in resupply. She loaded 500, so either unloaded another 100 junky rounds or so first, OR was overloaded by 100 rounds. In either event, she would be involved, generally speaking, in three actions where 5-inch fire was appropriate: (i) Against IJN aircraft in the Timor Sea on either Feb 15th or 16th, firing a maximum of 930 rounds; (ii) Against IJN aircraft in Soerabaja on Feb 25th, 26th, and a little on 27th, firing N rounds; (iii) Against IJN surface ships near Sunda Strait on Feb 28th/Mar 1st, firing 750 rounds. So she fired at least 1700 rounds and likely a deal more. One would assume--or at least would like to believe--that a great many more than 500 rounds of that 1700+ total were good and reliable projectiles, but how possible?
One Houston officer as an elderly man claimed that the ship had the opportunity to take on additional 5-inch/25 rounds, but the question does remain that of opportunity: WHERE and from WHAT SHIPS or WHAT PORTS (ammunition stores)? These questions should be answered if it's accepted that Houston managed to acquire additional reliable projectiles.
After departing Tjilatjap on some yet undetermined date, but probably around February 10th, Houston arrived at Darwin around the 13th, where she refueled and prepared to escort a troop convoy to Timor. How long she spent in port impacts on whether she had the opportunity to load ammunition. Returning to Darwin on the 18th and Tjilatjap on the 21st, the heavy cruiser was in and out of both ports fast, only refueling at both places. The last opportunity to take on more 5-inch ammunition was in Soerabaja beginning on the 25th, IF such ammo was stored there for American naval ships. As far as the possible source of 5-inch/25 ammo, it was not USS Langley (AV 3), because she was armed with four 5-inch/51 surface guns, firing different ammunition. Transport USS Chaumont (AP 5) had four 3-inch deck guns and had departed from Darwin at the end of January, but she could have unloaded 5-inch/25 ammunition in Darwin brought there as cargo. USS Pecos (AO 6), with four 5-inch guns of undetermined size, was in and out of Tjilatjap, and could be the best bet as a source of additional ammunition for Houston, I don't know.
But again, I digress. I don't know how many 5-inch rounds--broken down into AA, common shell, and starshell--could be stored in a Northampton class heavy cruiser.