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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 Deployments - Major Events

Add a CV-2 Shellback Initiation Add a CV-2 Deployment - Major Event
Month Year to Month Year Deployment / Event
JAN1921-Keel Date: 8 JAN 1921
at Fore River Ship and Engine Building Company
OCT1925-Launch Date: 3 OCT 1925
DEC1927-Commissioned: 14 DEC 1927
MAY1941-Shellback Initiation - 3 MAY 1941 - Atlantic Ocean
MAY1941-Shellback Initiation - 3 MAY 1941 - Pacific Ocean
MAY1942-MAY1942Battle of the Coral Sea - Sunk Dive Bombers & Torpedos
OCT1942-Shellback Initiation - 31 OCT 1942 - Pacific Ocean
JAN1957-JAN1958Middle Pacific
MAR1965- Shellback Initiation - 5 MAR 1965 - Pacific Ocean

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