Skip to main content

World War II Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington Discovered 76 Years After It Was Lost

USS Lexington

The missing aircraft carrier was 2 miles under the Coral Sea.

A research team has finally located the wreckage of an American aircraft carrier 76 years after a vital battle in World War II.

The USS Lexington was commissioned as a battlecruiser, but was later made into one of the first aircraft carriers. It sank during the Battle of the Coral Sea May 8, 1942, approximately 500 miles off the coast of Australia after taking heavy damage from multiple bombs and torpedoes.

The Lexington had to be abandoned, but not before helping halt the Japanese advance on Papua New Guinea and Australia. It also ultimately helped turn the tide of the war in the Pacific. Unfortunately, 216 members of the crew were lost, too.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is the one behind this latest discovery. You may recall one of his previous expeditions resulted in the discovery of the USS Indianapolis.

It took Allen and his crew approximately six months to locate the ship a crew lovingly called "Lady Lex" nearly two miles under the ocean's surface.

Video footage of the wreck taken by the research ship R/V Petrel's advanced undersea camera gear shows the carrier to be in remarkably good condition, especially since there's footage of this carrier's sinking, in which she looked to be in very rough shape going down.

Also visible in the footage are some of the 35 airplanes that went down with the ship. The Lexington has the distinction of being involved and lost in the first battle between aircraft carriers in history.

"To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor," Allen said in a press release 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."


World War II Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington Discovered 76 Years After It Was Lost