The wreck of the USS Lexington, an historic WWII-era U.S. aircraft carrier that was scuttled during a the Battle of the Coral Sea, has been discovered around 800 kilometres from Queensland’s coast.
“Lady Lex”, as the warship was affectionately known, was discovered at a depth of around 3,000 metres by a research team led by philanthropist and former Microsoft executive Paul Allen.
The first full-sized fleet carrier in the U.S. Navy, USS Lexington was lost 76 years earlier during the Battle of the Coral Sea, where she fought alongside the USS Yorktown against a Japanese carrier fleet that was threatening Australia and New Guinea, the first battle in which opposing ships did not sight each other, beginning a new era of combat from carrier-based warplanes.
Allen’s team discovered the wreck from his ocean exploration vessel R/V Petrel, which hosts an AUV equipped with sidescan sonar, and an ROV (remotely operated vehicle) capable of diving to 6,000 metres. Allen has previously led missions that successfully located other historic wrecks, including the USS Indianapolis, Japanese battleship Musashi and Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere.
“Lexington was on our priority list because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII,” said Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen. “Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue. We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”
The R/V Petrel‘s ROV is claimed to be the most powerful and advanced capable of operating at a depth of 6,000 metres, boasting multiple sensors, multibeam sonar systems, and 4K HDTV video cameras — and capable of streaming broadcast-quality footage at that depth.
See other images from the discovery of the USS Lexington below.