Lexington file photo [2295]

Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier

CountryUnited States

Contributor:

This article refers to the entire Lexington-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseLexington-class aircraft carriers were the first operational aircraft carriers of the United States Navy, despite the fact that their hulls were originally laid down as battlecruisers. In 1922, when the Washington Naval Treaty was signed, limiting the total tonnage of warships, four of the six incomplete hulls were canceled, while two furthest along in the construction of them were selected for conversion. Given they were converted from hulls originally designed for a different purposes, they ended up heavier than the engineers wished (exceeding the Washington Naval Treaty limit of 34,000 metric tons in displacement, in fact), but they did gain benefits such as heavier armor and ample room for large hangar decks. The two carriers, Lexington and Saratoga, both launched in 1925, were both still in active service when the United States entered the war in Dec 1941. Lexington would be sunk by Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea, while Saratoga would survive the war, though only to become a target for atomic weapons testing during Operation Crossroads in 1946. They would remain the largest carriers in US Navy inventory until the introduction of Midway-class carriers after the war.

ww2dbaseSource: Wikipedia

Last Major Revision: Apr 2013

Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier Interactive Map

Lexington-class Aircraft Carrier 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.
16 Nov 1927 Saratoga was commissioned into service.
14 Dec 1927 Lexington (Lexington-class) was commissioned into service.
23 Jan 1929 Starting on this date and lasting through 27 Jan 1929, the US Navy aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Saratoga participated in their first exercise. Sailing with the opposing forces of Fleet Problem IX, Saratoga was detached on a southerly sweep against the Panama Canal, where she arrived undetected, and launched 69 aircraft on a mock dawn raid.
2 Nov 1931 US Marine Corps Squadrons VS-15M and VS-14M embarked in the aircraft carriers USS Lexington and USS Saratoga respectively, the first US Marine squadrons to be assigned to carriers, as part of the organisation in Aircraft, Battle Force. They were to remain carrier-based until late 1934 giving US Marine Corps pilots necessary experience in a realm of naval aviation which, previously, had been largely denied to them.
13 Jun 1939 The US Navy carrier USS Saratoga completed a two day trial of underway refueling tests with the fleet tanker Kanawha. These sea replenishment techniques greatly extended the range of the US carrier force and proved invaluable for later operations in the Pacific War.
5 Dec 1941 USS Lexington departed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii Islands to ferry US Marine Corps SB2U Vindicator dive bombers to Midway Atoll.
8 Dec 1941 USS Saratoga departed San Diego, California for Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
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.
15 Dec 1941 USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
16 Dec 1941 USN Task Force 14, centered around USS Saratoga, departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii to relieve Wake Island.
17 Dec 1941 USS Lexington ordered to sail north to join Task Force 14 to reinforce Wake Island.
25 Dec 1941 Carrier USS Saratoga launched F2A Buffalo aircraft of Marine Fighter Squadron 221, originally intended to relieve Wake Atoll, to Midway Atoll. They became the first fighters to be based in Midway, and they immediately began a daily patrol schedule.
27 Dec 1941 USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
27 Dec 1941 USS Lexington arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii.
31 Dec 1941 US Navy Task Force 11 with USS Saratoga departed Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii for patrol.
12 Jan 1942 USS Saratoga was damaged by a torpedo from Japanese submarine I-6 about 500 miles southwest of US Territory of Hawaii; she returned to Pearl Harbor under own power.
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.
19 Feb 1942 USS Saratoga arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for more extensive repairs following being damaged by a torpedo.
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.
22 May 1942 USS Saratoga departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after repairs from torpedo damaged.
1 Jun 1942 USS Saratoga departed San Diego, California for Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
7 Jun 1942 USS Saratoga transferred aircraft to Enterprise and Hornet so that they could sail north to reinforce the Aleutian Islands.
13 Jun 1942 USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor.
22 Jun 1942 Saratoga departed Pearl Harbor. US Territory of Hawaii to ferry aircraft to Midway Atoll.
25 Jun 1942 Saratoga delivered 25 P-40 Warhawk fighters and 18 SBD Dauntless dive bombers to Midway Atoll.
29 Jun 1942 USS Saratoga arrived at Pearl Harbor, US Territory of Hawaii after ferrying aircraft to Midway Atoll.
7 Jul 1942 Saratoga departed Pearl Harbor for the South Pacific.
18 Jul 1942 Frank Fletcher was promoted to the rank of vice admiral. He broke his flag aboard USS Saratoga.
7 Aug 1942 Aircraft from USS Saratoga flew several strikes against targets on Guadalcanal and in support of landings on Tulagi in the Solomon Islands. Pilot Lt(jg) Charles Tabberer was one of five out of eight pilots to go missing over Tulagi.
31 Aug 1942 Japanese submarine I-26 damaged USS Saratoga by torpedo 240 miles east of Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, leaving her dead in the water. There were no casualties from this attack. She would be out of action for next three months for repairs.
26 Jul 1943 Rear Admiral Frederick Sherman of Task Force 36 broke his flag aboard USS Saratoga.
1 Nov 1943 USS Saratoga launched two sorties against Japanese positions on Bougainville, Solomon Islands in support of the landings.
2 Nov 1943 USS Saratoga launched two sorties against Japanese positions on Bougainville, Solomon Islands in support of the landings.
27 Mar 1944 HMS Cumberland met US Task Group 58.5 (Aircraft Carrier USS Saratoga and destroyers USS Cummings, USS Dunlap, and USS Fanning) SW off Cocos Islands with ships of Eastern Fleet.
31 Mar 1944 USS Saratoga, HMS Cumberland, USS Cummings, USS Fanning, USS Dunlap, and ships of the Royal Navy Eastern Fleet arrived at Trincomalee, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
19 Apr 1944 Admiral Sir James Somerville's new Eastern Fleet launched a devastating raid on the oil refinery at Sabang in Sumatra, Dutch East Indies with aircraft flown from the carriers HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga escorted by HMS Cumberland, HMS Renown, USS Cummings, and others.
17 May 1944 The oil refineries at the Wonokromo district of Surabaya, Java, Dutch East Indies and the nearby Braat Engineering Works were struck by British and American carrier aircraft struck by carrier aircraft of the Royal Navy’s Eastern Fleet made up of carriers HMS Illustrious and USS Saratoga escorted by HMS Cumberland, HMS Renown, USS Cummings, and others.
17 Jun 1944 USS Saratoga arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for an overhaul.
14 Sep 1944 USS Saratoga departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after overhaul.
21 Feb 1945 The Japanese Army and Navy launched a combined tokko attack, dispatching 4 and 21 suicide aircraft, respectively. The fleet carrier USS Saratoga and escort carrier USS Lunga Point were hit and damaged, while escort carrier USS Bismarck Sea was sunk.
16 Mar 1945 USS Saratoga arrived at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for repairs of extensive damage following being bombed off Iwo Jima.
22 May 1945 USS Saratoga departed Puget Sound Naval Shipyard after repairs.
4 Mar 2018 The wreck of USS Lexington was found on the seabed about 800 kilometers (about 500 miles) east of Australia.

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