USS Lexington (CV-16)

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Originally commissioned in 1943 as an Essex-class aircraft carrier in the U.S. Navy,[1] the USS Lexington (CV-16) had an exceptionally long career, and enjoys a happy retirement as a museum ship. She was named in honor of USS Lexington (CV-2), sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Second World War

Commissioned in February 1943, she saw her initial combat operations in the Battle of Tarawa and at Wake Island. In November and December 1943, Lexington participated in campaigns in the Gilbert and Mariana Islands. During attacks on Kwajalein on 4 December, a night air attack hit her in the stern with a torpedo, necessitating two months of shipyard repairs.

After repairs, she took part raids in the central Pacific and New Guinea areas during the next few months. In June, she was part of the powerful carrier force that supported the Marianas invasion and won the Battle of the Philippine Sea. For remainder of 1944, Lexington continued her strikes on enemy targets in the central and western Pacific, including attacks on Japanese ships during the Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was damaged by a suicide plane on 5 November, but was repaired locally. After her planes helped prepare Luzon for invasion in late 1944 and early 1945, Lexington took part in the February 1945 Battle of Iwo Jima.

She took part in raids on Japanese Home Islands in early 1945, returned to the West Coast for overhaul, and again attacked Japan in the last two months of the war. After the surrender, she was decommissioned from the active fleet and put into reserve in July 1947.

Modernization

She went through a modernization program and recommissioned in August 1955, now equipped with an angled deck, steam catapult and other features for jet operations. She deployed to the Pacific Fleet for five tours, and then transferred to the Atlantic Fleet, originally as a training carrier.

After a combat assignment for the Cuban Missile Crisis, she spent the next 30 years as the training carrier, CVT-16 and then AVT-16, operating in the Gulf of Mexico. Among her crew was RADM Michelle Howard.

Decommissioned in November 1991, Lexington was transferred to a private organization in 1992 and became a museum ship at Corpus Christi, Texas.[2]

References