A team led by Paul Allen has done it again at the bottom of the sea, locating the wreckage of another long lost U.S. Navy warcraft.
A crew working with Allen’s Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel found the USS Lexington on Sunday, 76 years after it sank in the Coral Sea, more than 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia. The aircraft carrier — one of the first ever built in the U.S. — was located about two miles below the surface.
We've located the USS Lexington after she sank 76 yrs ago. #RVPetrel found the WWII aircraft carrier & planes more than 3000m (~2mi) below Coral Sea near Australia. We remember her brave crew who helped secure 1st strategic US win in the Pacific Theater https://t.co/20ehjafD7d pic.twitter.com/HIvxNUDbsX
— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) March 5, 2018
According to a post on the Microsoft co-founder’s website, the ship, which went down with 35 aircraft on board, took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea from May 4-8, 1942. The Lexington was hit by multiple Japanese torpedoes and bombs, in a battle alongside the USS Yorktown and three Japanese carriers. A secondary explosion and fire ultimately led to calls to abandon ship, and 2,770 crewmen and officers were rescued, while 216 were lost.
The USS Phelps delivered torpedoes that sank the crippled ship, the first aircraft carrier casualty in history.
“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen said in a statement. “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.”
Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen, said that the ship was on a priority list of those lost during World War II.
“Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work together with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue,” Kraft said. “We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”
Underwater images and video taken by a subsea vehicle launched by Petrel show the large guns on the carrier as well as some of the airplanes resting on the ocean floor. The Petrel’s state-of-the-art subsea equipment allows it to dive to 6,000 meters, and since being deployed last year it was active in several missions in the Philippine Sea before moving to the Coral Sea.
Last year, Allen-led expeditions led to the discovery of the USS Indianapolis and USS Ward, as well as the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere. In 2015, the USS Astoria and Japanese battleship Musashi were located.
Check out more images of the Lexington site, released by Allen’s team on Monday: