SYDNEY – An expedition has found the wreck of the USS Lexington nearly 76 years after the aircraft carrier sank during World War II’s Battle of the Coral Sea off the coast of Australia, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen said on Tuesday.
“We’ve located the USS Lexington after she sank 76 yrs ago. #RVPetrel found the WWII aircraft carrier & planes more than 3000m (×2mi) below Coral Sea near Australia. We remember her brave crew who helped secure 1st strategic US win in the Pacific Theater,” Allen said in a Twitter post.
The Lexington, launched on Oct. 3, 1925, fought in the May 4-8, 1942, Battle of the Coral Sea between Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
“‘Lady Lex’ went down with 35 planes. So far, #RVPetrel has found 11 of them,” Allen tweeted.
The Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel, owned by Allen, has discovered the wrecks of several other naval vessels, including USS Indianapolis; USS Ward; USS Astoria; the Japanese battleship Musashi; and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere.
The USS Lexington and the USS Yorktown fought the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle of the Coral Sea, considered a crucial engagement in containing Japan’s advance across the Pacific and preventing a possible invasion of Australia.
“Lexington was on our priority list because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII,” Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen, said in a statement. “Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue. We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”
During the battle, the Japanese navy also sank USS Sims and USS Neosho, and damaged the Yorktown.
The Imperial Japanese Navy lost the aircraft carrier Shoho and the carrier Shokaku was severely damaged.