USS Lexington wreckage found

Posted at 5:29 PM, Mar 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-06 17:29:50-05

(CNN) – A team of explorers found the wreckage of a World War II U.S. aircraft carrier 500 miles off the Australian coast Sunday.

The billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen led the team that discovered the USS Lexington, which was one of the first U.S. aircraft carriers ever built.

The expedition crew of Allen’s research vessel Petrel found the ship also dubbed the “Lady Lex,” resting on the bottom of the Coral Sea, nearly two miles down.

Japanese forces destroyed the USS Lexington with aerial bombs and torpedoes during the Battle of the Coral Sea, which was fought between the Imperial Japanese Navy on one side and American and Australian forces on the other, in early May 1942.

The battle is considered a crucial turning point in the war because the Japanese losses gave the Allied forces an advantage two months later in the Battle of Midway, which turned the tide of war in the Pacific in the Allies' favor.  

Although a little more than 200 crew members died when the USS Lexington sank, around 2,770 others survived its destruction – including Wags, the captain’s dog, as reported by The Washington Post.

The aircraft carrier is Allen’s latest underwater find. He’s used his Petrel to discover several other sunken ships and artifacts, including the famed naval cruiser USS Indianapolis, which CNN reported Allen discovered in August 2017 at the bottom of the Pacific.

Copyright 2018 CNN. Raycom News Network contributed to this report. All rights reserved.