Microsoft Co-Founder Makes Big Find in Coral Sea
Billionaire Paul Allen found the wreckage of WWII's USS Lexington, one of the first US aircraft carriers
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2018 10:30 AM CST

(Newser) – Badly damaged after four days of battle with the Japanese, "Lady Lex" was deliberately sent to the depths of the Coral Sea with a reported 216 bodies on board. It's there that one of the first US aircraft carriers slumbered undisturbed for 76 years, until a crew led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen arrived with cameras. Finding the USS Lexington some 500 miles off Australia's eastern coast on Sunday, the crew has recorded the first video of the World War II wreckage, showing what AFP calls "remarkably preserved aircraft" that went down with the ship, as well as anti-aircraft guns with rifling visible in the barrels. Now covered in slime, the weaponry was used to fire on three Japanese aircraft carriers that hoped to catch the USS Lexington and USS Yorktown in an ambush near Papua New Guinea's Port Moresby on May 4, 1942.

In the end—in what calls "the day that decided Australia's fate"—the US aircraft carriers prevented a defeat that threatened to cut Australia off from the US. Though it meant the USS Lexington had to be scuttled, the battle also damaged two Japanese carriers, "setting the stage for an Allied victory," according to US Pacific Command. Commander Adm. Harry Harris is celebrating the discovery as "the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington," per CNN. "To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor," says Allen, who headed a six-month project to find the carrier. "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." (Allen helped find the wreck of the USS Indianapolis last year.)

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