Monday, March 5, 2018

The wreck of the US Carrier Lexington, sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy, has been located.

Wreckage from the USS Lexington was discovered by the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel on March 4. The Lexington was found 3,000 meters (about two miles) below the surface, resting on the floor of the Coral Sea more than 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.

Full story here.

The USS Lexington was originally commissioned as a battlecruiser but was launched as an aircraft carrier in 1925. She took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 4-8, 1942) along with the USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers. This was the first carrier versus carrier battle in history and was the first time Japanese forces suffered a permanent setback in its advances on New Guinea and Australia. However, the U.S. lost the Lexington and 216 of its distinguished crew.

The Lexington had been hit by multiple torpedoes and bombs on May 8 but it was a secondary explosion causing uncontrolled fires that finally warranted the call to abandon ship. The USS Phelps delivered the final torpedoes that sank the crippled Lady Lex, the first American aircraft carrier casualty in history. With other U.S. ships standing by, 2,770 crewmen and officers were rescued, including the captain and his dog Wags, the ships ever-present mascot.

During the Battle of the Coral Sea the Japanese navy sank USS Lexington (CV-2), USS Sims (DD-409), and USS Neosho (AO-23), and damaged the USS Yorktown. The Japanese lost one light carrier (Shōhō) and suffered significant damage to a fleet carrier (Shōkaku).

Mitsubishi G4M torpedo bomber photographed from Lexington's flight deck on 20 February 1942


  1. RIP Lady Lex. The exploration was remarkable and most interesting.

  2. Great story, amazing photos. However, HMS Ark Royal was sunk by U-81 on November 14, 1941. I think she was the first aircraft carrier to be lost.

    1. Changed slightly to correct.

      The Japanese were vigorous and highly motivated fighters, with a modern economy to back them up. My dad was in the Navy in the Pacific Theater in WWII, and had some interesting stories about fighting the Japanese.

    2. That's what I figured you meant c w. I'll bet your Dad had some stories about the Japanese, they were indeed highly motivated.

    3. Yeah he did. He was a radarman stationed on the bridge. Once, a Kamikaze plane took out the entire bridge of the ship directly behind his, killing everyone. He told me he was only here due to that pilot's choice of which ship to hit.

  3. I grew up in the 50's reading old Life magazines from WWII - I wish I still had those. But I remember seeing the picture of the Japanese soldier in the process of beheading a blindfolded American prisoner.

    definitely a vivid illustration of the brutality of the Japanese, along with articles about Bataan

  4. That Betty is toast in no more than a second. Part of the Lady Lex's honor guard.