The USS Lexington sank as a result of damage caused by Japanese torpedo planes and dive-bombers at the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942. She was the fourth of five ships to carry the name Lexington and one of the first aircraft carriers in the US Navy.
Captain Frederick Sherman’s battle report describes the crew’s efforts to save the ship. However, after several hours, accumulated gasoline vapors exploded belowdecks, and the order was given to abandon ship at 5:07 p.m. on May 8, 1942.
Thanks to the work of fire and repair crews and the orderly evacuation of the ship, more than ninety percent of the crew survived the Battle of the Coral Sea. The survivors were promptly picked up by other ships in the battle group.
One month after the Lexington (designated CV-2) was lost, a carrier under construction was renamed USS Lexington and designated CV-16. This fifth Lexington survived the war and is now a national monument and museum in Corpus Christi, Texas.