AIRCRAFT CARRIER FLAT TOP
USS LEXINGTON was an Essex class aircraft carrier, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. Commissioned in February 1943, she saw her initial combat operations in the September-October raids on Tarawa and Wake. In November and December 1943, Lexington participated in the campaign to seize bases in the Gilbert Islands and batter down Japanese forces in the Marshalls. During attacks on Kawjalein on 4 December, a night air attack hit her in the stern with a torpedo, necessitating two months of shipyard repairs. Lexington was back in the war zone by early March 1944 and took part in raids in the central Pacific and New Guinea areas during the next few months. In June, she was part of the powerful carrier force that supported the Marianas invasion and won the Battle of the Philippine Sea. For remainder of 1944, Lexington continued her strikes on enemy targets in the central and western Pacific, including attacks on Japanese ships during the October Battle of Leyte Gulf. She was damaged by a suicide plane on 5 November, but was repaired locally. After her planes helped prepare Luzon for invasion in late 1944 and early 1945, Lexington took part in the February 1945 Iwo Jima operation and in carrier attacks on the Japanese Home Islands. Following a west coast overhaul, Lexington returned to combat for the last two months of the Pacific War, hitting targets in Japan during July and August 1945. Following Japan's surrender, she remained in the western Pacific to support occupation efforts. The carrier returned to the United States in December 1945 and was decommissioned at Bremerton, Washington, in April 1947. In "mothballs" for the next six years, Lexington began extensive modernization work that was completed in August 1955, when she recommissioned as an attack aircraft carrier (redesignated CVA-16). Now featuring an angled flight deck, steam catapults and many other improvements to accomodate high-performance aircraft, she made five deployments to the western Pacific between 1956 and 1961. In 1962, she was transferred to the Atlantic to relieve USS Antietam as the Navy's training carrier. For this purpose, she was redesignated CVS-16 in October 1962, but briefly remained in the attack carrier role for a few more months during the Cuban Missile Crisis. For nearly thirty years, Lexington operated in the Gulf of Mexico, providing a seagoing platform for training student Naval Aviators and maintaining the carrier qualifications of more experienced ones. She was redesignated CVT-16 in July 1969 and AVT-16 nine years later. Decommissioned in November 1991, USS Lexington was transferred to a private organization in 1992 and became a museum ship at Corpus Christi, Texas.