Lexington-class aircraft carrier
50,000 tons (1942)
Launched on October 3, 1925, sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson (wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy), and commissioned December 14, 1927 with Captain Albert W. Marshall in command. Lexington received two battle stars for her World War II service.
The Captain of the vessel in 1930 and 1931 was Ernest King, who was later to serve as the Chief of Naval Operations during the WWII. Lexington was one of fourteen ships to receive the early RCA CXAM-1 Radar.
During July 1937, aircraft from the Lexington, escorted by USS Lamson DD-367 participated in the futile search for Model 10 Electra 1055 piloted by Amelia Earhart.
Lexington sailed next day to raid Japanese forces on Jaluit, but the raid was canceled on 20 December, and she was directed to cover the Saratoga force in reinforcing Wake but when the island fell on December 23, carrier forces were recalled to Pearl Harbor, arriving on December 27.
On February 16, the force headed for Rabaul, for an attack scheduled for February 21. But, while approaching on February 20, Lexington was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft. The carrier's combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire shot down 17 of the attackers, including Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare piloting an F4F Wildcat downing five planes and earned the Medal of Honor.
Offensive patrols in the Coral Sea continued, as part of the ANZAC Squadron. On March 6, 1942 she rendezvoused with USS Yorktown of Task Force 17.
On March 10, 1942 while operating from within the Gulf of Papua launched her aircraft on a strike over the Owen Stanley Mountains against Salamaua and Lae on the north coast of New Guinea. Lost over the target to anti-aircraft fire is SBD Dauntless 2130 (MIA).
Afterwards, returned to Pearl Harbor on March 26 and departed on April 15 for a brief overhaul to remove her 8" gun turrets, replacing them with by quadruple 1.1" anti-aircraft guns. On May 1, rejoined Task Force 17 (TF 17).
Battle of the Coral Sea
At 11:00am, Japanese planes penetrated the American task force's defenses and at 11:20am, Lexington was struck by a torpedo on the port side. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit her portside directly abeam the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from D3A dive bombers, producing a 7 degree list to port and several raging fires. By 13:00, skilled damage control had brought the fires under control and restored her to an even keel and the carrier was able to make 25 knots and ready to recover her aircraft. Suddenly, Lexington was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below deck and this time fire raged out of control. At 15:58, Captain Frederick Carl Sherman, fearing for the safety of men working below, secured salvage operations, and ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 17:01, he ordered "abandon ship" and an orderly disembarkation began.
The Lexington continued to burn, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. To prevent capture by the enemy, USS Phelps closed to 1,500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull causing an explosion that sank the carrier at 19:56 at aproximatly 15°20′S 155°30′E.