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Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

The USS Lexington (CV-2) is one of the most iconic and legendary aircraft carriers in US Navy history. With a rich history spanning over two decades, this formidable warship played a crucial role in World War II and left a lasting legacy in the minds of those who served on her and those who witnessed her in action.

In this blog post, we will delve into the history of USS Lexington (CV-2), exploring its specifications, battles and campaigns, crew and personnel, legacy, construction and commissioning, comparison to other aircraft carriers, survivors and wreckage, as well as its current state. So buckle up and let’s dive into the story of this remarkable ship.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

History of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The USS Lexington (CV-2) was a United States Navy aircraft carrier commissioned in 1927. Named after the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington, this ship was originally intended to be a battlecruiser but was later converted into an aircraft carrier due to the limitations of the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922. It was the second aircraft carrier to be commissioned in the US Navy, following the USS Langley (CV-1).

Specifications of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The USS Lexington (CV-2) had a length of 888 feet and a displacement of 33,000 tons. It was equipped with eight boilers and four geared turbines, which gave it a top speed of 34 knots. The ship also had a range of 10,000 nautical miles and could accommodate up to 78 aircraft on its flight deck. With a crew of over 2,000 officers and men, the USS Lexington (CV-2) was a massive and powerful vessel, capable of launching and recovering numerous aircraft simultaneously.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

One of the unique features of the USS Lexington (CV-2) was its island, also known as the “Superstructure.” This structure housed all the vital functions of the ship, including the bridge, flight control, fire control, and navigation stations. The USS Lexington (CV-2) also had an armored deck, which provided protection against direct hits from enemy bombs.

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Battles and Campaigns of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The USS Lexington (CV-2) saw action in multiple battles and campaigns during its service in the US Navy. It played a significant role in the Pacific theater during World War II, participating in various missions such as the Pearl Harbor attack, the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the Battle of Midway.

Pearl Harbor Attack

On December 7, 1941, the USS Lexington (CV-2) was stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched a surprise attack on the US naval base. During the attack, the USS Lexington (CV-2) was hit by two torpedoes and several bombs, causing extensive damage and killing 25 crew members. However, due to quick thinking and strategic maneuvers, the ship was able to escape further damage and make its way back to the West Coast for repairs.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

Battle of the Coral Sea

The USS Lexington (CV-2) played a pivotal role in the Battle of the Coral Sea, marking the first time in history that two opposing fleets engaged in combat without ever sighting each other. The aircraft carriers of both sides launched air attacks against each other, and the USS Lexington (CV-2) sustained significant damage from multiple bomb hits and torpedo strikes. Despite the damage, the crew was able to keep the ship afloat and evacuate most of the personnel before it eventually sank.

Battle of Midway

In what is considered one of the most crucial battles in the Pacific theater, the USS Lexington (CV-2) played a critical role in turning the tide of the war in favor of the Allies. During the Battle of Midway, the USS Lexington (CV-2) and its sister ship, the USS Yorktown (CV-5), worked together to launch a successful air attack on the Japanese aircraft carrier, Akagi. This victory was a significant blow to the Japanese forces and marked the beginning of their decline in the Pacific.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

Crew and Personnel of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The USS Lexington (CV-2) had a diverse crew and personnel during its service in the US Navy. The ship had a complement of over 2,000 officers and men, including pilots, sailors, and marines. As with any other warship, the crew members of the USS Lexington (CV-2) came from all walks of life and played various roles in keeping the ship running smoothly.

One notable crew member of the USS Lexington (CV-2) was Admiral Marc Mitscher, who served as the commanding officer during the Battle of Midway. He was known for his strategic thinking and leadership skills, which played a crucial role in the success of the mission.

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Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

Another notable figure on the USS Lexington (CV-2) was Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare, the ship’s first ace pilot. He is best known for his bravery and exceptional flying skills during the Pearl Harbor attack, where he managed to shoot down five Japanese bombers and became the US Navy’s first flying ace of World War II.

Legacy of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The USS Lexington (CV-2) left a lasting legacy not only in the minds of those who served on her but also in the history of naval warfare. Its strategic importance and contributions to the success of the US Navy in World War II cemented its place as one of the most iconic and legendary aircraft carriers in history.

The USS Lexington (CV-2) also paved the way for future aircraft carriers, serving as a blueprint for design and operations. Its innovative technologies, such as the armored deck and island superstructure, set the standard for modern-day aircraft carriers.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

USS Lexington (CV-2) in World War II

The USS Lexington (CV-2) played a crucial role in World War II, participating in various battles and campaigns in the Pacific theater. Its contributions were vital in helping the Allies secure victories against the Japanese forces and ultimately leading to their defeat.

The ship’s involvement in significant events such as the Pearl Harbor attack, the Battle of the Coral Sea, and the Battle of Midway has solidified its place in history as one of the most important naval vessels of World War II.

Construction and Commissioning of USS Lexington (CV-2)

The construction of the USS Lexington (CV-2) began in 1921 at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts. It was designed as a battlecruiser but was later converted into an aircraft carrier during construction.

On December 14, 1927, the USS Lexington (CV-2) was commissioned into the US Navy and assigned to operate with the Pacific Fleet. Its first captain was Admiral Albert Cook, who oversaw the initial training and preparations of the ship and its crew before it embarked on its first mission.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

USS Lexington (CV-2) vs. Other Aircraft Carriers

During its service, the USS Lexington (CV-2) was often compared to other aircraft carriers, both within the US Navy and from other nations. Its unique features and advanced technology made it stand out among other ships of its time and established its place as a formidable warship.

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One notable comparison was with its sister ship, the USS Saratoga (CV-3), which was also commissioned in 1927. Both ships had similar designs and capabilities, but the USS Lexington (CV-2) was slightly larger and had a more advanced island superstructure.

Survivors and Wreckage of USS Lexington (CV-2)

Despite its impressive service record, the USS Lexington (CV-2) faced significant damage in multiple battles and campaigns. This eventually led to its sinking during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942.

The wreckage of the USS Lexington (CV-2) was discovered in 2018 by an expedition crew, over 3 miles underwater in the Coral Sea. Among the wreckage were several aircraft, as well as personal items belonging to the crew members who served on the ship.

There were also survivors from the sinking of the USS Lexington (CV-2), with over 2,700 personnel being rescued by various US Navy ships after the battle. These survivors went on to serve in other naval vessels and played a crucial role in the remaining years of World War II.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

USS Lexington (CV-2) Today

Today, the legacy of the USS Lexington (CV-2) lives on through various memorials and museums dedicated to preserving its history. One such memorial is the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay in Corpus Christi, Texas, which features a restored version of the ship and offers tours and educational programs for visitors.

Although the original USS Lexington (CV-2) now rests at the bottom of the sea, its memory continues to inspire and influence generations of naval enthusiasts and historians.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

Conclusion

In conclusion, the USS Lexington (CV-2) remains a legendary aircraft carrier, known for its contributions in World War II and its innovative design. Its rich history and heroic actions have solidified its place in the annals of US Navy history, and its legacy continues to be celebrated today.

From its construction and commissioning to its involvement in significant battles and its eventual sinking, the USS Lexington (CV-2) has left an indelible mark on the world of naval warfare. And while the ship may no longer be in service, its legacy and memory will continue to inspire future generations.

Exploring the History of USS Lexington (CV-2) A Legendary Aircraft Carrier

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