A team led by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen says it found the wreck of the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier that was sunk in 1942’s Battle of the Coral Sea with the loss of more than 200 sailors.
In a tweet and an announcement on his website, Allen said the ship had been found Sunday about two miles from the surface. “We remember her brave crew who helped secure 1st strategic US win in the Pacific Theater,” he wrote.
In another tweet, Allen said his team, using his boat the R/V Petrel, had located 11 of the 35 aircraft that were aboard the carrier. “Here’s a look at two Douglas TBD-1 Devastators, resting on top of each other, and a close-up of a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat,” he wrote, referring to three photos.
The find, which occurred about 500 miles northwest of Australia, was confirmed by the U.S. Pacific Command. “Though Lexington was lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea, the valiant efforts of her men crippled IJN carriers Shōkaku and Zuikaku so that they were unable to take part at Midway, setting the stage for an Allied victory,” the Command said in a tweet.
The find particularly resonated with Adm. Harry Harris, chief of the Pacific Command.
"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'," he said in a statement.
The Lexington was deliberately sunk by the U.S. Navy after being struck by Japanese torpedoes and bombs during the battle. A total of 216 crew members died after the ship was attacked and more than 2,000 were rescued. The ship will not be disturbed because it is considered to be a war grave.
In this file photo, crewmembers abandon the USS Lexington after it was attacked by Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The ship was later deliberately sunk by the US Navy. (Photo: AP)
According to Allen's website, the Lexington was originally commissioned as a battlecruiser but was launched as an aircraft carrier in 1925. The giant ship took part in the Coral Sea conflict along with the USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers.
“Lexington was on our priority list because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen. “We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”
According to his website, Allen-led expeditions have also resulted in the discovery of the USS Indianapolis (August 2017), USS Ward (November 2017), USS Astoria (February 2015), Japanese battleship Musashi (March 2015) and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere (March 2017).
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