Lexington file photo [2295]

USS Lexington (Lexington-class)

CountryUnited States
Ship ClassLexington-class Aircraft Carrier
BuilderFore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, MA
Laid Down8 Jan 1921
Launched3 Oct 1925
Commissioned14 Dec 1927
Sunk8 May 1942
Displacement49000 tons standard
Length888 feet
Beam106 feet
Draft24 feet
Machinery16 Yarrow boilers, 4 General Electric steam turbines, four main drive motors, 4 shafts
Power Output180000 SHP
Speed34 knots
Range10,000nm at 10 knots
Armament4x8in twin-mounted 55-cal guns, 12x5in guns
Armor5-7in belt, 2in 3rd deck, 3-4.5in steering gear


ww2dbaseThe two Lexington-class ships were originally designed as battle cruisers, but on 1 Jul 1922 they were reclassified as aircraft carriers after the recent aircraft innovations. Her powerplant was enormous. In the winter of 1929-1930, a power shortage materialized in Tacoma, Washington United States. Lexington was called in to provide electric power to the city for thirty days. Between her launch and WW2, she participated in the annual fleet problems at Hawaii, in the Caribbean Sea, off the Panama Canal Zone, and in the eastern Pacific.

ww2dbaseAt the start of the Pacific War, Lexington narrowly missed destruction at Pearl Harbor. She was at sea with Task Force 12 carrying Marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to Midway when the Japanese struck. She launched aircraft to hunt for the retreating Japanese fleet, but returned to Pearl Harbor on 13 Dec 1941 without success. On 14 Dec, she sailed to relieve Wake by attacking the Japanese garrison on Jaluit, then on 20 Dec the mission was changed to directly support Wake, but the mission was ultimately canceled as Wake fell on 23 Dec. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 27 Dec.

ww2dbaseIn Jan 1942, Lexington became the flagship of Vice Admiral Wilson Brown of Task Force 11. In this role, she was attacked by Japanese aircraft while en route to Rabaul, but her aircraft performed superbly and averted any damage on the carrier.

ww2dbaseBetween Feb and early Mar 1942, Lexington performed patrols in and near Coral Sea, launching aircraft to support New Guinea when call upon. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 26 mar. She left Pearl Harbor on 15 Apr and joined Task Force 17 on 1 May. Task Force 17 then sailed for Coral Sea to respond to a potential Japanese fleet movement.

ww2dbaseWhen the American and Japanese fleets met, the ensuing action later became known as the Battle of Coral Sea. On 7 May 1942, Lexington's air group scored the first sinking of the battle, destroying the light carrier Shoho. Later in that day, her aircraft also played a major part in destroying 9 out of the 27 attack aircraft from Shokaku and Zuikaku. On 8 May, one of her aircraft located the Shokaku group; an attack was launched that left Shokaku heavily damaged. At 1100 on 8 May, however, Japanese aircraft penetrated the American anti-aircraft screen. Two torpedoes struck Lexington on the port side at 1120, followed by three bomb hits from dive bombers. Fires raged aboard the carrier, and a list of 7 degrees developed. It was originally thought that by 1300 both problems were under control, but as she prepared to recover her air group, gasoline vapor was ignited below decks, once again starting major fire. At 1558, Captain Frederick Carl Sherman ordered all hands to the flight deck, and at 1701 the order to abandon ship was given. Sherman and the executive officer Commander Morton T. Seligman were the last to leave the ship. Lexington was scuttled by two torpedoes from destroyer Phelps at 1956.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia.

Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class) Interactive Map

USS Lexington (Lexington-class) Operational Timeline

1 Jul 1922 The incomplete battle-cruisers USS Lexington and USS Saratoga were authorised for commissioning as aircraft carriers, expanding greatly the US Navy’s seaborne air power beyond the still experimental USS Langley.
14 Dec 1927 Lexington (Lexington-class) was commissioned into service.
5 Dec 1941 USS Lexington departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Islands to ferry US Marine Corps SB2U Vindicator dive bombers to Midway Atoll.
14 Dec 1941 US Navy Task Force 11 with USS Lexington, three cruisers, and nine destroyers set sail for the Marshall Islands, acting as decoy in attempt to lure Japanese naval vessels out of the Wake Island area.
17 Dec 1941 USS Lexington ordered to sail north to join Task Force 14 to reinforce Wake Island.
27 Dec 1941 USS Lexington arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
22 Jan 1942 American carrier Lexington departed to raid Wake Island.
23 Jan 1942 American oiler USS Neches was torpedoed and sunk by Japanese submarine I-72 70 miles southwest of the Hawaiian Islands at 0319 hours, killing 57. Without this source of fuel, USS Lexington and her task force cancelled the Wake Island raid.
31 Jan 1942 American carrier USS Lexington was ordered to sail south to cover the return of carriers USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown from their Marshall and Gilbert Islands raid. To that end, she set sail for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii with Task Force 11.
1 Feb 1942 USS Lexington supported the air offensive against Marshall and Gilbert Islands indirectly by operation in the vicinity of Christmas Island.
2 Feb 1942 While at sea, USS Lexington received orders to set sail for Canton Island, Phoenix Islands.
5 Feb 1942 USS Lexington crossed the Equator.
6 Feb 1942 While at sea, USS Lexington received orders to set sail for Fiji.
14 Feb 1942 18 G4M1 Type 1 land attack aircraft of the Japanese Takao Air Group arrived at Vunakanau Airfield near Rabaul, New Britain.
16 Feb 1942 USS Lexington set sail with US Navy Task Force 11 for a raid on Rabaul, New Britain.
20 Feb 1942 A Japanese H6K flying boat piloted by Lieutenant (jg) Noboru Sakai spotted a US carrier force 460 miles northeast of New Britain; US pilot Jimmy Thatch of USS Lexington shot down Sakai's aircraft at 1112 hours, but not before Sakai had alerted others. At 1202 hours, Burt Stanley and Leon Haynes shot down another H6K aircraft, flown by Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Hayashi, north of Lexington. At 1420 hours, 17 Type 1 bombers of Japanese 4th Air Group, led by Lieutenant Masayoshi Nakagawa, were launched from Rabaul, with the first wave reaching Lexington at 1625 hours. The first wave of 9 bombers were all shot down without causing any damage to Lexington; Nakagawa tried to crash into Lexington as he fell from the sky, but fell short by less than 1 mile). The second wave attacked USS Lexington and USS Minneapolis at 1705 hours, still causing no damage; Edward "Butch" O'Hare shot down 3 and damaged 4 Japanese bombers. Only 2 Japanese bombers arrived back at Rabaul at the end of the day; 100 Japanese bomber crewmen were lost during the attacks, and Japan also lost 20 men with the H6K reconnaissance flights earlier in the morning. O'Hare was given credit for 5 kills, making him an "Ace in a Day" and setting him up for a Medal of Honor award.
6 Mar 1942 USS Lexington made rendezvous with USS Yorktown and sailed for a raid on Rabaul, New Britain.
10 Mar 1942 USS Lexington launched aircraft to attack the Japanese invasion force at New Guinea.
20 Mar 1942 USS Lexington set sail for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii after raiding New Guinea.
26 Mar 1942 USS Lexington arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii and prepared for an overhaul in the drydock.
13 Apr 1942 USS Lexington departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii to rendezvous with USS Yorktown for a raid on Rabaul.
15 Apr 1942 USS Lexington was assigned to US Navy Task Force 11.
18 Apr 1942 USS Lexington ferried US Marine Fighter Squadron 211 and its F2A Buffalo aircraft to Palmyra Atoll, Line Islands.
20 Apr 1942 USS Lexington arrived in the South Pacific.
22 Apr 1942 USS Lexington arrived at Tongatapu, Tonga.
5 May 1942 USS Lexington made rendezvous with USS Yorktown south of Tulagi, Solomon Islands.
8 May 1942 USS Lexington was damaged by bombs at 1120 hours during the Battle of the Coral Sea, killing 191. At 1247 hours, the leaking gasoline was detonated by fire, killing a further 25. At 1707 hours, the 2,735 survivors abandoned ship, and the carrier was scuttled by 5 torpedoes from destroyer USS Phelps at 1915 hours.


Lexington on her buliding ways at Quincy, Massachusettes, late Sep or early Oct 1925Painting of USS Lexington by Walter L. Greene, 1927, depicting the ship launching aircraftUSS Lexington fitting out at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts, Nov 1927; note merchant ship West Grama at right edge of photoUSS Lexington firing her 55-caliber 8-inch guns, 27 Jan 1928
See all 69 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class)


Battle of the Coral Sea map and infographic, published 3 May 2017

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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Hobilar says:
1 Sep 2007 11:45:31 PM

In fact six Lexington Class Battle cruisers were laid down in 1920-1921 (Lexington CC-1 Constellation CC-2 Saratoga CC-3 Ranger CC-4 Constitution CC-5 and United States CC-6). Only two survived the cuts imposed by the Washington Treaty 1921-1922 and these finally emerged as Aircraft Carriers in 1927.
2. Anonymous says:
23 Nov 2009 07:40:28 PM

Don't mean to sound like a nit-picker but the caption that lables "Saratoga4" as a battlecruiser is clearly in error. What we have is a wonderfull broadside view of Sara as finished as our first real carrier. The main give-away are the distictive 8inch gunned turrets which she kept until her first serious refit and then they were replaced with 5inch dual mounts which could elevate and track fast enough to be the standard hv.AAA gun for the USN up to this very *** . Thank you for allowing this chance ti provide a corection. BTW-Love this site!
3. Alan says:
7 Apr 2012 02:52:27 AM

Lt.'Butch' O'Hare's name was already well known in his home town of Chicago thanks to his infamous father 'Easy Eddie' who for many years was Al Capone's personal attorney.'Easy Eddie' later testified against Capone and within a year was shot dead, allegedly by one of Capone's mobsters.
4. ronaldcurtner@gmail.com says:
7 Jan 2015 07:01:23 PM

Searching for raymond henry boehmer believed to have served on the lexington in 1945
5. T Price says:
7 Dec 2015 08:43:39 AM

My Uncle, Wendell Carrick just recently died. He was on the Lexington and ended up with a group of sailors considered MIA in Tonga. I would love to find more information about their time in Tonga before being located.
6. Lindy Combs says:
26 May 2016 01:20:36 PM

My father, John David Combs. I would be pleased if anyone could tell me if he is listed anywhere? I believe he was nearly the last one to get off the Lexington, after rescuing many, or so the story goes that I was told. The story is that he collapsed and then managed to dive into the water, which nearly killed him.
7. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
26 May 2016 06:39:26 PM

Lindy: Lexington Muster Rolls list Seaman 2nd class John D Combs of Dallas, Texas, service number 356 58 54 (enlisted 24 May 1941), reporting aboard 7 Apr 1942 from Carrier Aircraft Service Unit #1 at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (1 month before the sinking). After the sinking, Lexington Muster Rolls list him formally released from the Lexington crew 8 Jul 1942 to the Receiving Station at Bremerton, Washington for duty aboard the USS Card. Card Muster Rolls list John David Combs as a member of the crew upon her commissioning (plank owner) on 12 Nov 1942 but showed him “absent upon sailing of ship” on 13 Jan 1943. For more information about his service, request his service record from the National Archives. See: http://www.archives.gov/research/military/ww2/ww2-participation.pdf
8. Anonymous says:
23 Nov 2016 05:39:46 PM

My Uncle was a survivor. His name was Willard ( Bill ) Ashpole. Anyone know him?
9. Lanny Reidhead says:
1 Jan 2017 01:11:28 PM

My uncle Cleon Ballard served on the Lexington. Can anyone tell about his service or his dutied
10. Commenter identity confirmed David Stubblebine says:
1 Jan 2017 03:40:15 PM

Mr. Reidhead (above): Lexington Muster Rolls list Cleon Woodrow Ballard, service number 381 25 99, serving in the crew as a Seaman 1st-class from 1938 through the sinking in 1942. Lexington was sunk 8 May 1942 but survivors were still technically part of the crew until assigned new duties (for payroll and Muster Roll purposes) so Cleon Ballard was officially transferred off the Lexington 1 Jul 1942 to the Sub Chaser Training Center in Miami FL. After that, he was received aboard 173-foot sub chaser PC-625 as a plank owner on 25 Sep 1942 in New Orleans LA. He made his rating to Gunners Mate aboard PC-625 on 1 Jan 1943 and also shows up in the Muster Rolls of destroyer escort USS Heyliger (DE-510) on 24 Mar 1945. If you are truly interested in the details of his service, request a copy of his service record. See: https://www.archives.gov/veterans/military-service-records
11. Kelly Gardner says:
20 Feb 2017 05:49:18 PM

My grandfather James Doyle from Salem Mass served on the Lexington.
12. Anonymous says:
10 Jul 2017 11:19:28 AM

My step father always claimed he was a Pearl Harbor Survivor but now I read the Lexington (on which he served) was not in Pearl Harbor at the time of attack. So can he officially declare he is a Pearl Harbor Survior?
13. Vincent L. Anderson says:
18 Nov 2017 10:37:20 AM

I served in the 94 man Marine Detachment on the USS Lexington CV2 in 1941 & 1942. I am a Coral Sea Battle Survivor. Contact me by email for photos & documents. Last Historial USS Lexington CV-2 Minutemen Club.

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Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class) Photo Gallery
Lexington on her buliding ways at Quincy, Massachusettes, late Sep or early Oct 1925
See all 69 photographs of Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (Lexington-class)

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