USS Lexington (CV-2) was a pre-World War II-era aircraft carrier. She was built in 1921 in Massachusetts and in 1928 began operating off the coast of California. She spent thirteen years in largely quiet operations, until Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
World War II
Lexington was at sea as part of Task Force 12, transporting aircraft from Hawaii to Midway, when she was given orders to return to the waters off Hawaii to search out Japanese ships. She spent the next month operating near Oahu to block enemy attacks.
On Feb. 20, 1942, with plans to attack Rabaul, in New Guinea, Lexington was attacked by eighteen enemy planes, seventeen of which were shot and five of which were downed. That spring, Lexington and her fighter groups repeatedly thwarted Japanese ships and planes.
USS Lexington’s Fate
On May 8, Lexington was hit by two Japanese torpedoes and three bombs, causing the ship to list and catch fire. Though her crew managed to squelch the fires and right the ship, gasoline below decks caused an enormous explosion and raging fires that could not be put out. The order was given to abandon ship, and all the men on board were saved and transferred to other carriers. An American destroyer fired two torpedoes into the hull to sink her completely. Lexington was awarded two battle stars for her role in World War II.
CV-2 General Specifications
Class: Lexington-class aircraft carrier
Complement: 2122 Officers and Enlisted
Length: 888 feet
Beam: 105 feet 5.25 inches
Draft: 24 feet 3 in
Flank Speed: 33 Knots
Final Disposition: Sunk by Japanese at the Battle of the Coral Sea 8 May 1942