Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command


Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command

Japanese light aircraft carrier Shoho under the attack of the American planes, May 7, 1942.

Smoke is rising from the aircraft carrier Shokaku after she was hit by American bombs, May 8, 1942. Flames on

the bow can be recognized.

xington on a fighter mission. They managed

to destroy three Kate torpedo bombers,

another was destroyed by Wildcat fighter

and four by AA defense. Two Vals were shot

down during the attack on Yorktown but regardless, she suffered a bomb hit. On the

return flight the American and Japanese

formations engaged resulting in further air

combat and losses. Both sides lost many

aircraft, their ships were damaged and

were running out of fuel therefore they withdrew from the battle. The American scored a victory because the Japanese had to

postpone the landing at Port Moresby for

two months worried about the Allied cruisers’ presence in the area and in the end

the invasion never materialized.

The Japanese were convinced that they had

sunk two American aircraft carriers, those however were sailing under their own

power and receiving the returning aircraft.

Nothing indicated that the damages Lexington sustained could not be handled. No

one realized though that the first torpedo

hit had damaged the aviation fuel tanks on

the port side. The fumes were escaping and

concentrating in other areas of the ship.

At 12:47 the sparks from the electrical motors caused the explosion and fierce fire.

The flight operations were still not impaired

and by 14:14 the last aircraft returned to the

carrier. In addition to three Wildcats shot

down, three Dauntlesses, one Devastator and one Wildcat, which had to make

emergency landing on the water, were lost.

At 14:42 another explosion followed and

a fierce fire in the hangar interrupted the

electric power supply to the ship’s front

section. Any hopes for saving the vessel

were marred by the third explosion at 15:25

which demanded the full evacuation of the

quarters bellow the waterline. At 16:00 Lexington came to full stop and at 17:07 captain Frederick Sherman gave the order to

abandon ship. 2735 crew members were

saved, 216 people perished. Captain Sherman remained on board until 18:30 to make

sure nobody was left behind and left the

ship as the last. Between 19:15 and 19:52 destroyer Phelps fired five torpedoes at Lexington and sank the ship.

3,000 meters deep


On March 4, 2018, Paul Allen and his research ship RV Petrel discovered the wreck

of USS Lexington more than 800 km east

off the coast of the Australian Queensland.

The ship is broken into several sections.

The largest part of the hull is upright at the

bottom 3,000 meters deep. The bow and the

stern are detached and found almost 2 km

west from the main hull part. The bridge

The flight deck edge of the sunken Lexington.

December 2022

INFO Eduard