USS Lexington (Essex-class)
|Ship Class||Essex-class Aircraft Carrier|
|Builder Name||Bethlehem Steel Company, Quincy, Massachusetts, United States|
|Laid Down||15 Jul 1941|
|Launched||23 Sep 1942|
|Commissioned||17 Feb 1943|
|Decommissioned||8 Nov 1991|
|Displacement||27,100 tons standard; 36,380 tons full|
|Machinery||Eight 565psi boilers, four Westinghouse geared steam turbines, four shafts|
|Power Output||150,000 SHP|
|Range||20,000nm at 15 knots|
|Armament||4x2x127mm 38 caliber guns, 4x1x127mm 38 caliber guns, 8x4x40mm 56 caliber guns, 46x20mm 78 caliber guns|
|Armor||60-100mm belt, 40mm hangar and protective decks, 100mm bulkheads, 40mm pilot house (special treatment steel), 60mm top of steering gear|
Contributor: David Stubblebine
ww2dbaseThe second Essex-class aircraft carrier was laid down as the Cabot on 15 Jul 1941 at the Bethlehem Steel Company in Quincy, Massachusetts, United States. After nearly a year of construction, the ship was renamed Lexington in honor of the earlier carrier Lexington lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea three weeks before. The Essex-class Lexington was commissioned 17 Feb 1943 with Captain Felix B. Stump in command.
ww2dbaseAfter a shakedown cruise to Trinidad, Lexington sailed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal and Pearl Harbor. Her first combat came in late Sept 1943 with a raid on the Tarawa Atoll in the Gilbert Islands. Lexington supported the Gilberts Campaign through the fall before moving on to strike Kwajalein in the Marshalls on 4 Dec 1943. Late that same night, Lexington was struck by a torpedo that injured her steering. After retiring to Puget Sound, Washington for repairs, Lexington was back in action by Mar 1944.
ww2dbaseRear Admiral Marc Mitscher made Lexington his flagship for the Fast Carrier Task Force as they sailed in support of the Army's landing at Hollandia, New Guinea 13 Apr 1944. Lexington and the Task Force moved on to the Mariana Islands for some preliminary strikes against Saipan and Guam. The presence of the US fleet near the Marianas prompted a response from the Japanese that developed into the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Lexington's aircraft played a big part in what the fliers called The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, the engagement that nearly neutralized Japanese naval aviation for the rest of the war.
ww2dbaseUsing Eniwetok as their new base, the Task Force and Lexington flew against Guam, Palaus, the Bonins, Yap, and Ulithi. General Douglas MacArthur was nearly ready to land his forces at Leyte and so the Navy began preliminary attacks on the Philippines. The Philippine operation also included strikes against Formosa (now Taiwan) and Okinawa. MacArthur's landings took place in late Oct 1944 and Lexington's planes flew strikes in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea where they contributed to the sinking of the battleship Musashi. The next day, Lexington sailed north as Halsey was drawn away to pursue the decoy Northern Force. Then they pursued the retreating Japanese fleet and sank the heavy cruiser Nachi in Manila Bay on 5 Nov 1944, scoring four torpedo hits that blew the ship into three separate pieces.
ww2dbaseThat same day, a Japanese special attack aircraft (kamikaze) found Lexington and struck near her island. Lexington retired to the forward base at Ulithi for repairs where her crew heard over Radio Tokyo that the Lexington had been sunk. This was the fourth time this crew heard Japanese radio report that their ship was sunk.
ww2dbaseLexington returned to action almost straightaway, in time for more strikes in support of the Philippine operation before the fleet, including Lexington, sailed through Typhoon Cobra. Lexington and the fleet then steamed into the South China Sea for raids against shipping along the coast of French-Indochina as well as raids against Hong Kong, Hainan, and Formosa before taking one swipe at Okinawa to conclude the sortie.
ww2dbaseTheir next action was to be a part of the first carrier launched air strikes on the Japanese home islands since the Doolittle Raid three years earlier. Their targets were airfields near Tokyo in mid-Feb 1944 meant to minimize opposition to the Marines landing on Iwo Jima. Lexington planes then flew close support for the Marines on Iwo Jima before returning to strike the Japanese home islands. Lexington then sailed to Puget Sound again, this time for a complete overhaul.
ww2dbaseLexington was back in action again on 20 Jun 1945 with a passing strike against Wake Island while on her way to rejoin the fleet. Lexington took her place with sixteen other carriers and over 120 other warships to pound Japan's southern islands through Jul and into Aug 1945. As Lexington's planes approached the Japanese coast on 15 Aug 1945, they received orders to jettison their bombs and immediately return to the ship due to Japan's surrender.
ww2dbaseAfter hostilities ended, Lexington planes flew patrols over Japan, dropping supplies to prisoner of war camps on Honshu, Japan. She supported the occupation of Japan until leaving Tokyo Bay 3 Dec 1945 loaded with American servicemen bound for San Francisco. She remained on the west coast until she was decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington, 23 Apr 1947 and placed the Reserve Fleet.
ww2dbaseLexington began conversion and modernization at Puget Sound 1 Sep 1953 that included being fitted with an angled flight deck. She was recommissioned 15 Aug 1955 and rejoined the Pacific Fleet. Lexington alternated between west coast training cruises and Far East deployment cruises until 1962 when she moved to the Gulf of Mexico. Lexington was on alert throughout the Cuban Missile Crisis of Oct 1962. In late 1963, Lexington relieved USS Antietam as the principal aviation training carrier in the Gulf of Mexico. Lexington was based at Pensacola, Florida but also operated from Corpus Christi, Texas and New Orleans, Louisiana. On 17 Oct 1967, Lexington logged her 200,000th arrested carrier landing. In 1976 when USS Oriskany was decommissioned, Lexington became the last Essex-class carrier in commission. In Aug 1980, Lexington became the first aircraft carrier in US Naval history to have women serving in the crew.
ww2dbaseLexington served another eleven years, finally being decommissioned on 8 Nov 1991. When Lexington was decommissioned for the last time, she had more time in commission than any other aircraft carrier in the world, a record she still holds. At the time of her retirement, Lexington also held the world record for the carrier with the most arrested "trap" aircraft landings.
ww2dbaseIn 1992, the ship was donated as a museum ship and now operates as the "USS Lexington Museum on the Bay" in Corpus Christi, Texas. Portions of Lexington's original wooden flight deck are preserved in a small carrier deck mock-up at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida.
ww2dbaseLexington received the Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars for World War II service.
Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
US Navy War Diaries
USS Lexington CV-16 Association
National Museum of Naval Aviation
Navybuddies.com – Unofficial US Navy Site
Last Major Revision: Nov 2015
Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (Essex-class) (CV-16) Interactive Map
USS Lexington (Essex-class) Operational Timeline
|15 Jul 1941||The keel of carrier Cabot was laid down at Quincy, Massachusetts, United States.|
|17 Feb 1943||Lexington (Essex-class) was commissioned into service.|
|12 Oct 1944||Carrier aircraft from USS Lexington attacked Shoka Airfield in Shoka (now Changhua), Taiwan.|
|13 Oct 1944||Carrier aircraft from USS Lexington attacked the rail marshaling yard at Shinei District (now Xinying District), Tainan, Taiwan.|
|5 Nov 1944||The Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington (CV-16) was damaged by a kamikaze special attack.|
|3 Dec 1945||USS Lexington departed Tokyo Bay, Japan for San Francisco, California, United States with US servicemen on board.|
|23 Apr 1947||USS Lexington was decommissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, United States.|
|1 Sep 1953||The conversion and modernization work on carrier Lexington began at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington, United States.|
|8 Nov 1991||USS Lexington was decommissioned from service.|
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» New Guinea-Papua Campaign, Phase 3
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» Philippines Campaign, Phase 1, the Leyte Campaign
» Philippines Campaign, Phase 2
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