For the history buff who thought they’d have a slow week, a welcome surprise was in order. Previously believed to have been lost to a watery grave forever, a World War II aircraft carrier was discovered near the site it sank 76 years ago.
Awe-inspiring for its size, and revered for its unique abilities in its era, the USS Lexington went down in a blaze of glory during World War II. It hadn’t been seen since.
The USS Lexington, lost in the Battle of Coral Sea in 1942, was discovered by a team led by billionaire Paul Allen near Australia.
Allen is the co-founder of Microsoft, and the owner of the Seattle Seahawks football team. But lately, he’s busied himself by finding sunken ships believed to have been lost forever.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Paul Allen said in an article on his website.
“As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence, and sacrifice.”
The Lexington was found 2 miles below the surface, and about 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia. The crew aboard Allen’s personal research ship R/V Petrel made the discovery.
The Lexington holds historical significance for the US, and emotional significance for families effected by the tragedy.
The USS Lexington was originally commissioned as a battleship, but launched as an aircraft carrier in 1925. It was lost during the Battle of the Coral Sea in 1942, which would ultimately prove to be the start of a critical winning effort for the United States.
The ship sustained multiple direct hits from enemy torpedoes, which quickly spread to secondary fires. In addition to the loss of the ship, 216 crew members were aboard the ship when it went down. The other 2,770 crew were rescued by nearby US ships.
“As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the ‘Lady Lex,’ sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea,” Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command, said in an article on PaulAllen.com
“We honor the valor and sacrifice of the ‘Lady Lex’s’ Sailors—all those Americans who fought in World War II—by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us,” Adm. Harris told Fox News.
The ship is in remarkably good condition despite years of being submerged in the ocean.
The old steel frame of the ship is now beset with algae and aquatic life. But it is still in good enough repair that it is easily recognizable.
In several locations, the word “Lexington” can see be seen clearly stamped in steel. After 76 years in a constant battle against the elements, the vessel has held up remarkably well.