USS Lexington (CV-16)
Lexington was one of many ships that was commissioned in the dawn of World War II and sent to the initial raids on Tarawa and Wake in the fall of 1943. Lexington also helped in the campaigns of the Gilbert Islands and the battle against the Japanese in the Marshall Islands. In December of that year, the ship was hit by a night attack, forcing her to return to the shipyard for two months of repairs. The USS Lexington was back on duty in early 1944 and was involved in many Pacific combats during the following months.
Lexington went home in 1945 after the Iwo Jima invasion for an overhaul, and then returned in July and August to help with the end of the Pacific War. In December, the USS Lexington was sent home and was then decommissioned in Bremerton, Washington in 1947. She sat in ‘mothballs’ for six years, and then underwent major modernizations that were completed in 1955 and was recommissioned as an attack aircraft carrier. She made five deployments to the Western Pacific up until 1961 and was then transferred to the Atlantic.
For 30 years after that, the USS Lexington operated in the Gulf of Mexico as a training vessel, and then was decommissioned in 1991. She was transferred to a private organization and was turned into a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas in 1992.
USS LEXINGTON (CV-16)
The fifth Lexington (CV-16) was laid down as Cabot 15 July 1941 by Bethlehem Steel Co.
renamed Lexington 16 June 1942
launched 23 September 1942; sponsored by Mrs. Theodore D. Robinson; and commissioned 17 February 19
Capt. Felix B. Stump in command.
After Caribbean shakedown and yard work at Boston
Lexington sailed for Pacific action via the Panama Canal
arriving Pearl Harbor 9 August 1943. She raided Tarawa in late September and Wake in October
then returned Pearl Harbor to prepare for
the Gilbert Islands operation. From 19 to 24 November she made searches and flew sorties in the Marshalls
covering the landings in the Gilberts. Her aviators downed 29 enemy aircraft on 23 and 24 November.
Lexington sailed to raid Kwajalein 4 December. Her morning strike destroyed a cargo ship
damaged two cruisers
and accounted for 30 enemy aircraft. Her gunners splashed two of the enemy torpedo planes that attacked at midday
and opened fire ag
ain at 1920 that night when a mayor air attack began. At 2322 parachute flares silhouetted the carrier
and 10 minutes later she was hit by a torpedo to starboard
knocking out her steering gear. Settling 5 feet by the stern
the carrier began circling to
port amidst dense clouds of smoke pouring from ruptured tanks aft. An emergency hand-operated steering unit was quickly devised
and Lexington made Pearl Harbor for emergency repairs
arriving 9 December. She reached Bremerton
for full repairs completed 20 February 1944.
Lexington sailed via Alameda
and Pearl Harbor for Majuro
where Rear Adm. Marc Mitscher commanding TF 58 broke his flag in her 8 March. After a warm-up strike against Mille
TF 58 operated against the major centers of resistance in Japa
n's outer empire
supporting the Army landing at Hollandia 13 April
and hitting supposedly invulnerable Truk 28 April. Heavy counterattack left Lexington untouched
her planes splashing 17 enemy fighters; but
for the second time
nda announced her sunk.
A surprise fighter strike on Saipan 11 June virtually eliminated all air opposition over the island
then battered from the air for the next 5 days. On 16 June Lexington fought off a fierce attack by Japanese torpedo planes based on Guam
gain to emerge unhurt
but sunk a third time by propaganda pronouncements. As Japanese opposition to the Mariannas operation provoked the Battle of the Philippine Sea 19 and 20 June
Lexington played a mayor role in TF 58's great victory. With over
300 enemy aircraft destroyed the first day
and a carrier
and a destroyer sunk the second day
American aviators virtually knocked Japanese naval aviation out of the war; for with the planes went the trained and experienced pilots without whom
Japan could not continue air warfare at sea.
Using Eniwetok as her base
Lexington flew sorties over Guam and against the Palaus and Bonins into August. She arrived in the Carolinas 6 September for 3 days of strikes against Yap and Ulithi
then began attacks on Mindanao
and shipping along the west coast of Luzon
preparing for the coming assault on Leyte. Her task force then blasted Okinawa 10 October and Formosa 2 days later to destroy bases from which opposition to the Philippines campaign might be launched
. She was again unscathed through the air battle fought after the Formosa assault.
Now covering the Leyte landings
Lexington's planes scored importantly in the Battle for Leyte Gulf
the climactic American naval victory over Japan. While the carrier came under constant enemy attack in the engagement in which Princeton
her planes joined in sinking Japan's superbattleship Musashi and scored hits on three cruisers 24 October. Next day
with Essex aircraft
they sank carrier Chitose
and alone sank Zuikako. Later in the day
in sinking a third carrier
Zuiho. As the retiring Japanese were pursued
her planes sank heavy cruiser Nachi with four torpedo hits 5 November off Luzon.
But in the same action
she was introduced to the kamikaze as a flaming Japanese plane crashed near her island
destroying most of the island structure and spraying fire in all directions. Within 20 minutes mayor blazes were under control
and she was
able to continue normal flight actions
her guns knocking down a would-be kamikaze heading for carrier Ticonderoga as well. On 9 November Lexington arrived Ulithi to repair battle damage and learn that Tokyo once again claimed her destroyed.
Chosen flagship for TG 58.2 on 11 December
she struck at the airfields of Luzon and Formosa during the first 9 days of January 1945
encountering little enemy opposition. The task force then entered the China Sea to strike enemy shipping and air insta
llations. Strikes were flown against Saipan
Camranh Bay in then Indochina
and Formosa. Task force planes sank four merchant ships and four escorts in one convoy and destroyed at least 12 in another
at Camranh Bay 12 January.
Leaving the China Sea 20 January
Lexington sailed north to strike Formosa again 21 January and Okinawa again 22 January.
After replenishing at Ulithi
TG 58.2 sailed 10 February to hit airfields near Tokyo 16 and 17 February to minimize opposition to the Iwo Jima landings 19 February. Lexington flew close support for the assaulting troops 19 to 22 February
ailed for further strikes against the Jap-  anese home islands and the Nansei Shoto before heading for overhaul at Puget Sound.
Lexington was combat bound again 22 May
sailing via Alameda and Pearl Harbor for San Pedro Bay
Leyte where she joined Rear Adm. T. L
Sprague's task force for the final round of airstrikes which battered the Japanese home islands through July
until 15 August
when the last strike was ordered to jettison its bombs and return to Lexington on receiving word of Japanese surrender. During this period she had launched attacks on Honshu and Hokkaido airfields
and Yokosuka and Kure naval bases
to destroy the remnants of the Japanese fleet. She had also flown bombing attacks on industrial targets in the Tokyo area.
After hostilities ended
she continued to fly precautionary patrols over Japan
and dropped supplies to prisoner of war camps on Honshu. She supported the occupation of Japan until leaving Tokyo Bay 3 December with homeward bound veterans for transport
ation to San Francisco
where she arrived 16 December.
After west coast operations
Lexington decommissioned at Bremerton
23 April 1947 and entered the Reserve Fleet there. Designated attack carrier CVA-16 on 1 October 1952
she began conversion and modernization in Puget Sound Naval Shipyar
d 1 September 1953
receiving the new angled flight deck.
Lexington recommissioned 15 August 1955
Capt. A. S. Heyward
in command. Assigned San Diego as her home port
she operated off California until May 1956 sailing then for a 6-month deployment with the 7th Fleet. She based on Yokosuka for ex
and search and rescue missions off the coast of China
and called at major Far Eastern ports until returning San Diego 20 December. She next trained Air Group 12
which deployed with her on the next 7th Fleet deployment. Arriving Yokos
uka 1 June 1957
Lexington embarked Rear Adm. H. D. Riley
Commander Carrier Division 1
and sailed as his flagship until returning San Diego 17 October.
Following overhaul at Bremerton
her refresher training was interrupted by the Lebanon crisis; on 14 July 1958 she was ordered to embark Air Group 21 at San Francisco and sail to reinforce the 7th Fleet off Taiwan
arriving on station 7 August. With an
other peacekeeping mission of the U.S. Navy successfully accomplished
she returned San Diego 19 December. Now the first carrier whose planes were armed with air-to-surface Bullpup guided missile
Lexington left San Francisco 26 April 1959 for anot
her tour of duty with the 7th Fleet. She was on standby alert during the Laotian crisis of late August and September
then exercised with British forces before sailing from Yokosuka 16 November for San Diego
arriving 2 December. Through early 1960 she ov
erhauled at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
Lexington's next Far Eastern tour began late in 1960 and was extended well into 1961 by renewed tension in Laos. Returning to west coast operations
she was ordered in January 1962 to prepare to relieve Antietam (CVS-36) as aviation train
ing carrier in the Gulf of Mexico
and she was redesignated CVS-16 on 1 October 1962. However
during the Cuban missile crisis
she resumed duty as an attack carrier
and it was not until 29 December 1963 that she relieved Antietam at Pensacola.
Lexington has operated out of her home port
as well as Corpus Christi and New Orleans
qualifying student aviators and maintaining the high state oft training of both active duty and reserve naval aviators. Her work has be
en of increasing significance as she has prepared the men vital to the continuing Navy and Marine Corps operations over Vietnam
where naval aviation has played a major role in defending the cause of freedom. Lexington marked her 200
landing 17 October 1967
and was redesignated CVT-16 on 1 January 1969.
Lexington received the Presidential Unit Citation and 11 battle stars for World War II service.
[Note: The above USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) history may or may not contain text provided by crew members of the USS LEXINGTON (CV-16) or by other non-crew members and text from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships]