The U S S Lexington The Blue Ghost
Tina M Wenger
Photograph - Prints Of Photographs
The intentional blur gives it an added "ghostlike" mystery. USS Lexington (CV/CVA/CVS/CVT/AVT-16), nicknamed "The Blue Ghost", is an Essex-class aircraft carrier built during World War II for the United States Navy. Originally intended to be named Cabot, word arrived during construction that the USS Lexington (CV-2) had been lost in the Battle of the Coral Sea. She was renamed while under construction to commemorate the earlier ship. This ship was the fifth US Navy ship to bear the name in honor of the Revolutionary War Battle of Lexington.
Lexington was commissioned in February 1943 and saw extensive service through the Pacific War. For much of her service she acted as the flagship for Admiral Marc Mitscher, and led the Fast Carrier Task Force through their battles across the Pacific. She was the recipient of 11 battle stars and the Presidential Unit Citation. Following the war Lexington was decommissioned, but was modernized and reactivated in the early 1950s, being reclassified as an attack carrier (CVA). Later she was reclassified as an antisubmarine carrier (CVS). In her second career, she operated both in the Atlantic/Mediterranean and the Pacific, but spent most of her time, nearly 30 years, on the east coast as a training carrier (CVT).
Lexington was decommissioned in 1991, with an active service life longer than any other Essex-class ship. Following her decommissioning she was donated for use as a museum ship in Corpus Christi, Texas. In 2003, Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark. Though her surviving sisterships Yorktown, Intrepid, and Hornet carry lower hull numbers, Lexington was laid down and commissioned earlier, making Lexington the oldest remaining aircraft carrier in the world. The Japanese referred to Lexington as a "ghost" ship for her tendency to reappear after reportedly being sunk. This, coupled with the ship's dark blue camouflage scheme, led the crew to refer to her as "The Blue Ghost". There were rumors during the war that the ship was so badly damaged it had to be scuttled at one point, but a newly built aircraft carrier was immediately deployed with the same name, in an effort to demoralize the Japanese.
On 15 June 1992, the ship was donated as a museum and now operates as the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay at 27�48'53 N, 97�23'19, 2914 North Shoreline Blvd, Corpus Christi, Texas. A MEGAtheater (similar to IMAX) was added in the forward aircraft elevator space. Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2003. The ship is carefully maintained, and areas of the ship previously off-limits are becoming open to the public every few years. One of the most recent examples is the catapult room.
The ship's World War II-era gun battery is also being partially restored using guns salvaged from scrapped ships. Most notable among these are 5"/38 DP gun turrets saved from the scrapping of the heavy cruiser Des Moines. They have been mounted in the approximate locations where similar mounts once existed as part of the ship's original World War II-era fit.
On 5 February 2010, the USS Lexington hosted their 17th annual "Stagedoor Canteen".
The National Naval Aviation Museum, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, has a small carrier deck mock-up, whose flight deck is constructed from deck boards salvaged from the Lexington.
October 15th, 2013
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