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Lost WW2 aircraft carrier finally discovered in Australia after 76 years

Lost WW2 aircraft carrier finally discovered in Australia after 76 years

Microsoft co-founder and billionaire philanthropist Paul Allen has discovered the wreck of the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II.

The wreckage was located 800km off the Australian coastline and was the first ever aircraft carrier to be sunk.

"To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the fearless men that served on her is an honour", says Paul Allen.

The wreckage lies in three sections, a far cry from the imposing figure it had as it cut through the ocean during WWII.

The Lexington, launched in 1925 as one of America's first carriers, went down with 35 aircraft aboard, and 216 crew members died in the battle.

The planes that went down with the ship included Douglas TBD Devastators, Douglas SBD Dauntless' and a single Grumman F4F Wildcat.

After a secondary explosion caused uncontrollable fires, the crew were told to abandon ship before the USS Phelps was ordered to sink the crippled ship to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

"We honor the valor and sacrifice of the "Lady Lex's" Sailors - and all those Americans who fought in World War II - by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us", he said.

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He said finding the ship was a small token of that gratitude.

One of the first United States aircraft carriers ever built, the vessel dubbed "Lady Lex" was located at the bottom of the Coral Sea - almost two miles below the surface - by the expedition crew of Research Vessel Petrel on Sunday, Allen said.

During the course of the five-day battle 966 servicemen lost their lives.

Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, whose father served on the Lexington and survived the attack, heralded the find.

Wreckage from the USS Lexington was discovered by the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel on March 4.

"Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue", he says. "We've been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely", Kraft said in a statement.

The USS Lexington took place almost 3km deep in the Coral Sea, about 800km away from Australia's east coast.

The ship will not be retrieved because the US Navy considers it to be a war grave.