WW2 aircraft carrier USS Lexington wreck discovered off Australia

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One of USS Lexington's anti-aircraft guns. (paulallen.com)

The wreck of the USS Lexington, a United States aircraft carrier that was sunk during World War 2, has been discovered off the coast of Australia Sunday by an expedition led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

The sunken ship was found two miles underwater in the Coral Sea, about 500 miles off the coast of eastern Australia. Allen’s company, Vulcan, made the discovery via an expedition made by Allen’s personal research ship, R/V Petrel.

“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” said Allen 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 wreck of the USS Lexington was found to be in a remarkably well-preserved condition 76 years after its sinking. Eleven of the carriers 35 aircraft was also discovered along with the ship.

According to Robert Kraft, Vulcan’s director of subsea operations, finding the aircraft carrier was on their priority list because it was one of the capital ships that the U.S. lost during the war.

‘Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue,” he said. “We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”

The USS Lexington took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 against the advancing naval forces of Imperial Japan. Along with the USS Yorktown, the ship fought against three Japanese carriers in the first ever carrier versus carrier battle in history.

After the battle, the Americans dealt the Japanese their first major setback in their advances on New Guinea and Australia. However, the USS Lexington was sunk after getting struck by several Japanese torpedoes during the battle. The ship lost 216 of its crew, while more than 2,000 of its sailors were rescued by nearby American ships.