Battle of the Coral Sea
Aircraft Carriers Lexington and Yorktown moved into the Coral Sea in early May 1942 to search for the enemy's force covering a projected Japanese troop movement and to thwart further southward expansion, and the threatened invasion of Australia and New Zealand. ... On May 7 search planes reported contact with an enemy carrier task force, and Lexington's air group successfully attacked and sank light carrier Shoho. Later that day, 12 bombers and 15 torpedo planes from still unlocated heavy carriers Shokaku and Zuikoku were intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown, who splashed nine enemy aircraft. ... On the morning of May 8, a Lexington plane located Shokaku group; a strike was launched from the US carriers, and the Japanese ship heavily damaged. The enemy penetrated the defenses of the US carriers at 1100, and 20 minutes later Lexington was struck by a torpedo to port. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit to port directly below the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a 7 degree list to port and several raging fires. ... Lexington was suddenly shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control. At 1508 fearing for the safety of men working below, the CO secured salvage operations, and ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 1707,abandon ship! was ordered and survivors were picked up by nearby cruisers and destroyers. ... Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. Destroyer Phelps closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull, with one last heavy explosion, the gallant LEXINGTON sank. ... She was part of the price that was paid to halt the Japanese oversee empire and safeguard Australia and New Zealand, but perhaps an equally great contribution had been her pioneer role in developing the naval aviators and the techniques which played so vital a role in ultimate victory in the Pacific.