USS Lexington (CV-16)

Lexington in the 1960s while in use as a training carrier. US Navy photo.

Nation
Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1941
Launched
1942
Commissioned
1943
Decommissioned
1991
AD/BC
AD
History

Laid down in 1941, USS Cabot (CV-16) was one of the new Essex-class. However, when the USS lexington was sunk during the Battle of the Coral Sea, the shipyard that had built her petitioned to have one of the new carriers they were building renamed in honor of the older ship, and Cabot was selected. The new Lexington commissioned 17 February, 1943, and joined the Pacific Fleet that August. She began combat operations raiding Tarawa in September, and was involved in the operations in the Marshalls and Gilberts until December. During a raid on Kwajalein, Lexington was hit by a torpedo in a Japanese counterattack, requiring her to return to the US for repairs. Rejoining the fleet in February, 1944, Lexington was selected as the flagship of Admiral Marc Mitscher, the commander of Task Force 58. Lexington soon foundherself the central player in the invasion of the Marianas Islands, and led the US fleet to victory in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, called the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot, due to the disproportionate losses suffered by the now raw Japanese air crews against the seasoned Americans. Lexington spent the end of summer raiding bases to prevent interference in the upcoming invasion of the Philippines, and her air group scored extremely well against the Japanese Navy during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She assisted in sinking the battleship Musashi, and sank the cruiser Nachi and carrier Zuikaku on her own, scoring payback against the latter for her namesake. She was heavily damaged by a kamikaze on 5 November, which removed almost the entire superstructure, but was back in action within the hour. Field repairs were effected within the month, and Lexington resumed operations in December. She spent the next two months raiding bases, before supporting the invasion of Iwo Jima. Lexington headed for the US after securing the island, for some much needed upkeep. She returned to the War in May, and raided Japan in July and August. After the surrender, her aircraft fropped supplies to Allied POWs in Japan, and Lexington was used for Operation Magic Carpet in December. Post war, she decommissioned in 1947, and remained in reserve until 1953 when she was modernized with an angled flight deck, among other improvements. Recommissioned in 1955, Lexington was deployed to deter escalation of the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis in 1958, and transferred to the Atlantic in 1962. Intended to be used as a training carrier, Lexington remained on active duty when some missiles were discovered in Cuba, enforcing the embargo during the resulting Missile Crisis. Lexington became the new training carrier in December, and remained in this tole until 1991. During this time, Lexington became the first US Navy carrier to have women stationed aboard (in 1980). She decommissioned in 1991, and was turned into a museum ship, berthed in Corpus Christi, Texas.

Bonus Information

Fun Fact: Lexington is the oldest surviving fleet carrier, having entered service before the other surviving Essex-class ships, despite what the hull numbers say. (USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Yorktown (CV-10), and USS Intrepid (CV-11)).

Bonus Fact: Lexington also filled in for a number of other carriers in several WWII movies, such as Midway (1975) and Pearl Harbor (2001).