Microsoft Co-Founder Discovers World War II Aircraft Carrier off the Coast of Australia

The USS Lexington during the Battle of the Coral Sea in May, 1942. Photographed from the deck of USS Yorktown. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

A nautical research expedition sponsored by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has discovered the remains of an American aircraft carrier sunk by the Japanese during World War II.

The crew of Allen’s personal research vessel, R/V Petrel, came upon the USS Lexington Sunday, two miles beneath the Coral Sea and roughly 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia.

“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor,” Allen wrote on his website. “As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice.”

The Lexington was scuttled by an American vessel after sustaining overwhelming damage from multiple Japanese bombs and torpedoes on May 8, 1942. The battle, which qualifies as the first carrier-verse-carrier conflagration in history, resulted in the death of more than 200 Lexington sailors; the remaining 2,770 sailors were rescued by U.S. ships, according to the Navy Times.

The Japanese Navy also succeeded in sinking the USS Sims and USS Neosho and damaging the USS Yorktown during the Battle of Coral Sea.

Commander of US Pacific Command Adm. Harry B. Harris, whose father served on the Lexington, celebrated the discovery.

“As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the “Lady Lex,” sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea,” said Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., head of the U.S. Pacific Command. “We honor the valor and sacrifice of the “Lady Lex’s” Sailors — all those Americans who fought in World War II — by continuing to secure the freedoms they won for all of us.”

Allen has also led expeditions resulting in the discovery of the USS Indianapolis (August 2017), USS Ward (November 2017), USS Astoria (February 2015), Japanese battleship Musashi (March 2015) and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere (March 2017).