Sunken second World War vessel discovered off Australia
USS Lexington wreck was found by an expedition funded by Microsoft’s co-founder
The wreckage of the US aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was sunk by the Japanese in a crucial second World War sea battle, has been discovered by an expedition funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The expedition team announced that the wreckage of the Lexington, crippled and then scuttled on May 8th, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, was found on the seabed in waters about 3km deep, more than 805km off Australia’s east coast.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honour,” Mr Allen said on his web page.
“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 battle helped stop a Japanese advance that could have cut off Australia and New Guinea from Allied sea supply routes, and crippled two Japanese carriers, leading to a more conclusive US victory at sea a month later at the Battle of Midway.
Mr Allen’s teams have made several previous important shipwreck discoveries, including three other US navy vessels, an Italian destroyer and the Japanese battleship Musashi.
The ship that found the Lexington, the Research Vessel Petrel, has equipment capable of diving about 6km. It was deployed in early 2017 in the Philippine Sea before moving to the Coral Sea off the Australian coast, where it located the USS Lexington.
The Lexington, affectionately dubbed “Lady Lex”, was badly damaged by bombs and torpedoes, but the order to abandon ship was given only after a secondary explosion set off an uncontrollable fire.
Some 216 crew members lost their lives, but 2,770 were safely evacuated before its sister ship, the destroyer USS Phelps, fired torpedoes to send it to the bottom of the ocean.
Mr Allen said on his Twitter account that the ship went down with 35 planes, 11 of which had been found so far by his expedition. – PA