U.S. WWII carrier discovered off Australian coast after 76 years

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WASHINGTON, March 5 (Xinhua) -- The wreckage from U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington sunk by the Japanese during World War II has been discovered 500 miles (about 804 km) off the Australian coast, a statement from Paul Allen, the Microsoft co-founder who led the expedition to locate the sunk vessel, said Monday.

The USS Lexington (CV-2), one of the first U.S. aircraft carriers ever built, was located at the bottom of the Coral Sea, 3,000 meters below the surface, by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel on Sunday, said the statement published on Allen's website.

The vessel, dubbed "Lady Lex," was struck by multiple Japanese torpedoes and bombs on May 8, 1942, during the Battle of the Coral Sea, which marked the first ever carrier battle.

Nearby U.S. ships rescued 2,770 of the carrier's sailors. Once evacuated, the vessel was torpedoed by the USS Phelps to prevent its capture, Navy Times reported. It was sunk with 216 of its crew and 35 aircraft on board.

"As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the 'Lady Lex,' sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of the Coral Sea," Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris of U.S. Pacific Command said Monday in a statement.

During World War II, along with the USS Yorktown, the Lexington and its fleet faced off against three Japanese aircraft carriers and helped to stop Japan's advances on New Guinea and Australia.

The battle occurred just one month before the U.S. Navy "surprised Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway and turned the tide of the war in the Pacific for good," according to Allen. Enditem

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