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USS Lexington Wreckage Found off Australia

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March 5, 2018

Marine explorers have located the remains of the USS Lexington, one of America's first aircraft carriers. The carrier, sunk by Japanese forces during the 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea, now rests nearly two miles below the surface, 500 miles off the coast of Australia.

USS Lexington plate

The battle, the first carrier battle in history, took place May 4–8, with the last two days of the battle comprising the bulk of the fighting. Japanese and American forces traded airstrikes. As a result of the bombardments, the Lexington was left with critical injuries, and the U.S. Navy decided to scuttle the carrier. Another carrier, the USS Yorktown, was also damaged. Japanese forces also sunk an American destroyer and a fleet oiler, which had to be scuttled as well.

American forces sunk a light carrier, the Shōhō, and heavily damaged the Shōkaku, a main line carrier. That damage proved to be significant a month later when the Shokaku was unable to be put into action during the pivotal Battle of Midway, which American forces won, checking the Japanese advance across the Pacific.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen financed the expedition, conducted aboard Petrel, a ship outfitted with two subsea vehicles and a suite of heavy-duty computers to process the images and data captured by state-of-the-art underwater scanners and cameras. In 2017, Allen announced the discovery of the wreckage of the USS Indianapolis in the Philippine Sea. A 2015 expedition had found the wreckage of the Japanese battleship Musashi, sunk during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

In keeping with United States law, the location of the wreck of the Lexington will remain confidential and will be treated as a war grave.

Note: The image above is of the carrier's nameplate. Click here to see a larger image.

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