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News: Research
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One of Lexington's anti-aircraft guns. Photo Credit: Paul G. Allen.
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by Archaeology Newsroom

The USS Lexington wreckage was found off Australian coast

By a rescue team led by Microsoft co-founder

The wreckage of USS Lexington sunk in WW2 was discovered about 800km off the eastern coast of Australia. The discovery was made on Sunday by a search team led by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, after six months of planning.

The USS Lexington was detected by research vessel R/V Petrel in the Coral Sea, about 3km below the surface. It had been sunk in the Battle of the Coral Sea. The first pictures and video footage of the wreck show that it is very well preserved as is the case with 11 of its 35 aircraft also found on the seabed. The aircraft bear the five-pointed star insignia of the US navy and one of them bears an emblem of a cartoon character. Among the 11 planes found were Douglas TBD-1 Devastators, Douglas SBD-3 Dauntlesses and Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats.

Also, in the pictures and video which show various parts of the ship a nameplate and anti-aircraft guns are included.

The ship, which was nicknamed “Lady Lex”, fought along with USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers in 4-8 May 1942, in the Battle of the Coral Sea, which is considered a key moment in halting Japan’s advance in the Pacific during the war and is considered historic because it was the first naval battle in history where opposing ships never actually saw each other; it was also the first battle ever between carriers. It was sunk by another US warship when the battle was completed and after it had been struck by several Japanese torpedoes and bombs. The members of the crew that had survived the battle -more than 2,000 survived, 216 died during the attacks- were rescued by other vessels before the scuttling of Lexington.

The research effort was paid tribute to by Admiral Harry Harris, heading the US military’s Pacific Command and son of one of the Lexington survivors.

This discovery is not the first performed by search teams led by Paul Allen. He also led missions that found other historic warships, such as the USS Indianapolis and a US heavy cruiser torpedoed and sunk by a Japanese submarine in the Philippine Sea, July 1945, a Japanese warship, the Musashi, and an Italian the naval vessel Artigliere.

The ship will not be retrieved, as it is considered a war grave by the US Navy.