A Microsoft co-founder has finally found a famous WWII aircraft carrier 3km deep in the Coral Sea north of Australia

A Grumann F4F-3 Wildcat. Image: R/V Petrel

Wreckage from the USS Lexington, an aircraft carrier sunk in a battle with Japanese forces in World War II, has been found after 76 years on the floor of the Coral Sea off the eastern coast of Australia.

The Research Vessel Petrel, run and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to find historic World War II vessels, filmed the Lexington in 3 kilometres of water about 500 nautical miles from Australia.

The ship took part in the Battle of the Coral Sea in May 1942 along with the USS Yorktown against three Japanese carriers, the first carrier versus carrier battle in history.

The Lexington was hit by multiple torpedoes and bombs on May 8. With other US ships standing by, 2770 crew were rescued, including the captain and his dog Wags, the ship’s mascot.

This video footage shows the wreckage.

A month after the Lexington was sunk, the US Navy surprised Japanese forces at the Battle of Midway and turned the tide of the war in the Pacific.

“To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honour,” said Allen.

“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.”

Robert Kraft, director of subsea operations for Allen, says finding the Lexington was a priority because she was one of the capital ships that was lost during WWII.

“Based on geography, time of year and other factors, I work with Paul Allen to determine what missions to pursue,” he says. “We’ve been planning to locate the Lexington for about six months and it came together nicely.”

Allen-led expeditions have also resulted in the discovery of the USS Indianapolis, USS Ward, USS Astoria , Japanese battleship Musashi and the Italian WWII destroyer Artigliere.

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