Absent by Fate: USS Lexington and Pearl Harbor

The USS Lexington (CV-2) was an iconic warship of the US Navy but do you know it was not intended to be an aircraft carrier? In 1916 when its construction was first authorized it was meant to be a battle cruiser.

When the Pearl Harbor was attacked, the USS Lexington wasn’t present at that time. However, after six days of the attack, she did return for refueling. On her return, Lexington’s task force was presented with an additional escort of four destroyers before setting off to the Marshall Islands to raid a Japanese base called Jaluit. The aim was to distract Japan long enough so that relief and aid to Wake Island could be provided by Saratoga.

It was the morning of May 8 when Lexington came under Japanese attack and by June 24, 1942, the USS Lexington was officially struck from the Naval Register.

The USS Lexington was awarded two battle stars for her service in World War II along with the American Defense Service Medal (w/ “Fleet” clasp), the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal. After it sank, workers at the shipyard where she had been originally built proposed a new Essex-class carrier which was commissioned on February 17, 1943 and remained in service until 1991.

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