Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Tags
Related Content
Topic
Document Type
  • nhhc-document-types:Themed-Collection
Wars & Conflicts
File Formats
  • nhhc-file-format:image
Location of Archival Materials
  • nhhc-location-of-archival-materials:nhhc

USS Lexington (CV-2)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Lexington (CV-2)

USS Lexington (CV-2) was originally designated CC-1; laid down as a battle cruiser 8 January 1921 by Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Mass.; authorized to be completed as an aircraft carrier 1 July 1922; launched 3 October 1925; sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson, wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy; and commissioned 14 December 1927, Capt. Albert W. Marshall in command.

After fitting out and shakedown, USS Lexington (CV-2) joined the battle fleet at San Pedro, Calif., 7 April 1928. Based there, she operated on the west coast with Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in flight training, tactical exercises, and battle problems. On 7 December 1941 USS Lexington (CV-2) was at sea with TF 12 carrying Marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to reinforce Midway when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was received. She immediately launched searchplanes to hunt for the Japanese fleet, and at midmorning headed south to rendezvous with USS Indianapolis and USS Lexington (CV-2) task forces to conduct with search southwest of Oahu until returning Pearl Harbor 13 December.

USS Lexington (CV-2) patrolled to block enemy raids in the Oahu-Johnston-Palmyra triangle until 11 January 1942, when she sailed from Pearl Harbor as flagship for Vice Adm. Wilson Brown commanding TF 11. On 16 February, the force headed for an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, scheduled for 21 February; while approaching the day previous, USS Lexington (CV-2) was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft, nine planes to a wave. On the morning of the 8th, a Lexington plane located Shokaku group; a strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and the Japanese ship heavily damaged.

The enemy penetrated to the American carriers at 1100, and 20 minutes later USS Lexington (CV-2) was struck by a torpedo to port. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit to port directly abreast the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a 7° list to port and several raging fires. Then suddenly USS Lexington (CV-2) was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control. And the orderly disembarkation began, men going over the side into the warm water, almost immediately to be picked up by nearby cruisers and destroyers. 

Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. Destroyer USS Phelps closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull; with one last heavy explosion, the gallant USS Lexington (CV-2) sank at 1956. 

For a complete history of USS Lexington (CV-2) please see its DANFS page.