USS Lexington Found after 76 years

Stone He - 1B Mechanical
Posted on: March 11, 2018

The wreckage of the USS Lexington, an American WWII aircraft carrier, was found after 76 years on March 4, 2018 by a search team lead by multi-billionaire and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The USS Lexington was found 800 kilometres off the east coast of Australia and about 3 kilometres underwater in the Coral Sea. Allen’s company, Vulcan, has previously found other sunken ships, including the Italian destroyer Artigiliere, and the Japanese battleship Musashi. In August last year, Vulcan found the heavy cruiser USS Indianapolis, which was sunk after delivering parts for an atomic bomb in a secret mission.

A number of aircraft were found fairly well preserved. A total of 7 Devastator torpedo bombers, 3 Dauntless dive bombers, and one F4F-Wildcat naval fighter was found west of the wreckage. In one of the photos, the F4F Wildcat can be seen with four Japanese victory marks and the Felix the Cat emblem of the VF-3 fighter squadron (The squadron still exists, though redesigned as VFA-31 and currently operating F/A – 18/E Super Hornets in Naval Air Station Oceana near Virginia Beach, Virginia).

It was also later revealed that the particular pilot that flew that particular Wildcat was Ed O’Hare, the first US Navy member to receive the Medal of Honor during WWII. He was part of squadron led by John Thatch, a Navy Admiral who created a tactic to attack more maneuverable Japanese fighter aircraft.

The USS Lexington was one of the first aircraft carriers launched by the US Navy. It was originally designed as a battlecruiser (with the armament of a battleship, but the speed and armour of a cruiser) but was changed into an aircraft carrier to comply with the Washington Naval Treaty. The aircraft carrier entered into service in 1928 and was given the designation of CV-2. It had a sister ship called USS Saratoga, which was commissioned a month earlier and was given the designation of CV-3.

The USS Lexington was nicknamed “Lady Lex” by her crewmates. The ship saw action in the early stages of the Second World War. In May 4, 1942, USS Lexington and another aircraft carrier, USS Yorktown, participated in the Battle of the Coral Sea. This naval battle, fought entirely by airplanes and with the American and Japanese fleets out of sight of each other, would decide the fate of Australia. On May 8, the USS Lexington was struck by Japanese aerial attacks and was heavily damaged. The damage was so severe that the ship had to be abandoned and was eventually scuttled. A little more than 200 crewman lost their lives on the ship while it sank.

The ship will be left there, as it is considered a war grave by the US military. Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr. a son of a survivor of the USS Lexington and the current commander of the Pacific fleet, congratulated Allen’s team in their efforts to find the ship.

“We honour the valour and sacrifice of the Lady Lex sailors – all those Americans who fought in WWII – by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us,” he stated.

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