back to article Paul Allen's research vessel finds wreck of WWII US aircraft carrier

Billionaire Microsoftie Paul Allen has found yet another sunken warship – an amazingly well-preserved Second World War US aircraft carrier. The USS Lexington was scuttled about 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia in May 1942 after sustaining serious damage from Japanese aircraft. A series of secondary explosions after …

  1. LenG

    3000m

    Bang goes my dream of another scuba site :(

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: 3000m

      "...Bang goes my dream of another scuba site :(.."

      My thoughts exactly :(

      Especially as the more reachable wrecks become less viable due to the elements and wear and tear (divers with crap buoyancy control etc, touching and grabbing what they shouldn't :( )

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: 3000m

      Probably for the better - see what is happening to the wrecks reachable by scuba divers of Indonesia.

      Let it be its final resting place.

      1. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

        Re: 3000m

        Let it be its final resting place.

        Exactly - there are plenty of other places besides war graves to go scuba diving.

  2. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    Paul Allen?

    "Look at that subtle off-white colouring. The tasteful thickness of it. Oh my God; It even has a watermark."

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

      Re: Paul Allen?

      Is yours the coat with the videotapes to be returned?

      1. Korev Silver badge
        Coffee/keyboard

        Re: Paul Allen?

        "Is yours the coat with the videotapes to be returned?"

        Love it!

    2. Paul Herber Silver badge

      Re: Paul Allen?

      They've even got rounded corners!

  3. ZanzibarRastapopulous

    Creepy...

    What's with the WWII obsession? Is he the guy who watches all that crap on Yesterday?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Creepy...

      you mean that strange thing called History?

      1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Creepy...

        > "you mean that strange thing called History?"

        You do know there's history other than WWII?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Creepy...

          >You do know there's history other than WWII?

          Ah yes, but the Third Reich had better colour moving pictures than Attila and his mob - hence its over-representation on TV.

        2. LDS Silver badge

          "You do know there's history other than WWII?"

          Tell Allen, he's interested in WWII history and ships/planes/vehicles. Finding an Egyptian plane is very difficult... a ship maybe, but wood, especially 2000 yrs after, is usually gone, unless deeply buried, and hard to find.

        3. Barry Rueger

          Re: Creepy...

          You do know there's history other than WWII?

          Not if "history" is defined as "wars that the Americans think that they won."

          1. Korev Silver badge
            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Creepy...

              Ask Allen to look for the Russian fleet at Tsushima...

              1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

                Re: Creepy...

                Ask Allen to look for the Russian fleet at Tsushima...

                That is that. There is also Rurik's final resting place which for some distinctly Russian reasons is is honored more than any of the ships lost at Tsushima over there. Though the coordinates are known - it is a listed war grave.

                There are also quite a few WW2 Arctic campaign wrecks which have never been located precisely.

            2. GrumpyKiwi

              Re: Creepy...

              You've got Dunkirk in which Jack Lowden personally shoots down more aircraft than the Luftwaffe lost over head. I don't think you've got much room to complain.

        4. Avatar of They
          Meh

          Re: Creepy...

          But not much that fulfills his passion for underwater archaeology at the same time.

          And given he is finding boats from all sides that are sometimes mystery locations. He is also filling blanks for final resting places of people whose relatives can have closure (Even if on a spreadsheet somewhere)

          And it is his money so he can do what he wants with it.

        5. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Creepy...

          > You do know there's history other than WWII?

          Why the negativity? Can you really say that your interests are somehow "better"?

          Have a pint and reconsider.

        6. Kev99

          Re: Creepy...

          And The War is why the world is so F-d up today.

          1. Marketing Hack Silver badge

            Re: Creepy...

            The world would be a lot more F'd up if the Allies hadn't won.

        7. Hans 1 Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Creepy...

          @Zanzibar

          You have to understand our British readership was raised to believe Britain won WWII single-handedly, it was also the last breath of our late empire, which most Brits believe still exists, no joke!

          So yeah, us Brits, all we have is glorious history ... we love history, remember each battle we won and like to tease citizens of countries we defeated centuries ago by naming the battle .... we conveniently forget any allies who helped us out at the time or battles we lost ...

          Britain, the last country on the planet where newsagents still carry war-glorifying WWII-related comics for kids after 1960 ... 2018 and still the same ... so yeah ... hopeless

          Please note that I do not condone atrocities committed on either sides and I think it is important to remember that carnage so it never ever happens again, it is the glorification of war that is so puke-inducing.

          Let us not forget The Daily Mail's title page "Britain does not want Jews from Europe" (paraphrasing) - absolutely NOTHING glorious about that.

          Donw-vote on, I could not care less!

          1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

            Re: Creepy...

            Britain, the last country on the planet where newsagents still carry war-glorifying WWII-related comics for kids after 1960 ... 2018 and still the same ... so yeah ... hopeless

            Britain is nowhere near the top of the scale on "Remember the War" syndrome. Your post makes it very clear that you have never been to Russia, especially around the 9th of May. Here is some educational material for you so you get an idea just how deep does it run there:

            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r7avPl6jB5w

            It is not the only place either. I was in Monte Negro last summer. There were fresh flowers on the resistance graves at the Kolasin cemetery and there were still people paying their respect there - 70 years later.

            Sure, you have idiots including ones we sponsor like the Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, Baltic, etc "democrats" that have constant erasure of history on the agenda. Even they have difficulty erasing it - it runs too deep. You can think of it as a grand canyon made by a river of blood. It will take millenia to fill it up even in places where people are actively working on doing this like Ukraine.

            1. Hans 1 Silver badge
              Unhappy

              Re: Creepy...

              @Voland

              Indeed, upvoted ... well, Britain is in the top 10 or even top 50 BUT should be in the bottom 5 ... ;-)

        8. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Creepy...

          "You do know there's history other than WWII?"

          It's wars all the way down.

    2. Hans Neeson-Bumpsadese Silver badge

      Re: Creepy...

      Is he the guy who watches all that crap on Yesterday?

      The channel which the late great Linda Smith referred to as UK Third Reich Gold

      1. x 7

        Re: Creepy...

        Yesterday?

        At the moment its the Ronnie Barker channel

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Creepy...

      > What's with the WWII obsession? Is he the guy who watches all that crap on Yesterday?

      I think you'll find that it'll be on Discovery to start with, making it's way to Yesterday in a few years time.

    4. EveryTime

      Re: Creepy...

      > "What's with the WWII obsession?"

      That's the most anti-intellectual thing I've read in a long while.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Creepy...

        That's the most anti-intellectual thing I've read in a long while.

        Yup, Trump hasn't been tweeting so much recently ...

      2. ZanzibarRastapopulous

        Re: Creepy...

        > "That's the most anti-intellectual thing I've read in a long while."

        Yeah because digging up graves is really intellectual.

    5. Marketing Hack Silver badge

      Re: Creepy...

      In WW2, the locations of sunken ships were better tracked, so it is easier to find them. Plus ships of that era were rather large and made of metal, so they are easier to find with sonar and magnetometers.

      I suppose you could look for WW1 wrecks, but most of those will be in the North Sea, have already been found, and are probably draped with years of tangled fishing nets (I know the Lusitania is covered in snagged fishing gear). Maybe the remains of the British fleet that got sunk by the German Asiatic fleet off of Chile have yet to be found, and the remains of that same German fleet that got caught by British battlecruisers off of the Falklands.

      It would be great to see the wrecks from Trafalgar, Quiberon Bay or many of the other battles from the age of sail, but the wooden ships have A) rotted by now B) might have been salvaged/looted for cannon and other valuable artifacts and C) buried on the ocean bed by years of sedimentation and deposition moved by currents.

    6. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Creepy...

      What's with the WWII obsession?

      Once again, which bridge did your progenitors hide under during the war?

      I know where mine were at the time. They were definitely not hiding under a bridge(*).

      (*)My granddad was not really buried - there was so little left from his fighter coming down from > 5km altitude that it was his coat and medals that went into the casket.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: Creepy...

        My grandma's brother got full military burial by the other side. Something about watching the crew fight until their Lancaster became a crater. The Soviets even got involved and were nice enough to move his remains to the other side of the curtain.

        Not every enemy is the horrid nightmares the papers would have us believe

  4. 3man
    Coat

    Felix rules, baby!

    Sorry, couldn't contain myself after seeing that F4F...

  5. P0l0nium

    Its not a Hellcat !!

    Its a Wildcat !

    1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Its not a Hellcat !!

      Wild? It's bloody livid.

      (With apologies to Gerald)

  6. Roland6 Silver badge

    MH370?

    Perhaps someone should suggest as he now has an idle vessel complete with a crew experienced in finding stuff, he could use it to look for MH370...

    1. JimC

      Re: MH370?

      Impractical. With decent research the WW2 wrecks are pinned down to a reasonably small area. MH370 on the other hand...

    2. Daniel von Asmuth Bronze badge

      Re: MH370?

      We all hope Allen will turn up Amelia Earheart's plane next....

    3. spold Bronze badge

      Re: MH370?

      ...apparently they just found it on the flight deck.

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Go

    Those Devastators do look like they are in mint condition.

    If it weren't for the depth, I would say that aviation enthusiasts should recover those and refurbish them. (Those would have been on the Lexington's deck when she sank, so they do not have dead crew members in them and are not war graves.)

  8. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    My hat is off to everyone concerned.

    As for ZanzibarRastapopulous, well, what's the obsession with rubbishing this feat? You Do understand that the most proliferous wrecks in decent condition will be those from WWII, don't you? That the wercks amenable to being found at all are those which are famous and have their last pre-sinking positions known? All things properly considered, I find it hard to think up a more appropriate subject for this sort of hobby.

    Were I as rich as Croesus I'd be spending some of the dosh doing this as well, because ... AWESOME!

  9. James O'Shea

    Devastators were torpedo bombers

    See <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_TBD_Devastator> The 'T' is for 'Torpedo', the 'B' for 'Bomber' and the 'D' for 'Douglas', the manufacturer. . After the extremely severe losses during the Battle of Midway, Devastators were withdrawn from service. The Douglas SBD ('Scout Bomber Douglas') Dauntless was a dive bomber and reconnaissance aircraft; SBDs killed four Japanese carriers at Midway, and were involved in every major naval action in the Pacific. The TBD was replaced by the Grumman TBF Avenger. (The 'F' indicated 'Grumman', Goodyear already had the 'G'. They built blimps for the USN for ASW patrol.)

    1. LDS Silver badge

      "Goodyear already had the 'G'. They built blimps for the USN for ASW patrol."

      They also built planes to fill the war needs - you can find Corsairs made by Goodyear under the FG designation.

  10. jimmyo

    lucky hit

    "after a lucky hit from German battleship Bismarck"

    I say those Bismark gunners made their own luck

    1. Kev99

      Re: lucky hit

      Actually, German gunnery was better than British at long distance, but the Brits had better fire control.

      1. LDS Silver badge

        "but the Brits had better fire control"

        I'm not sure, in the beginning of the war. Probably, German optical rangefinder were superior to British one. When improved British radars became available - the German ones never improved that much-, that advantage was lost.

        German undamaged ships were quick to find the right solution to fire on Glorious, Hood, Prince of Wales and Exeter. The "three salvos" procedure looks to have been standard practice for German ships.

        Just like Japanese had a clear advantage in the beginning, especially at night. Again, it later changed when US Navy ships got improved radars and sophisticated firing computers.

        Just, from a pure technical perspective, it's disappointing Lee's battleships weren't left to protect the landings near Samar (or dispacthed sooner to intecept Kurita) - and see how the Iowa-class battleship would have behaved against the Yamato group.

    2. Marketing Hack Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: lucky hit

      I'd say that it was both A) a lucky Germanic hit and B) crap British design on the battlecruiser. Apparently the fatal shell not only penetrated the Hood's deck armor, but also several other decks, set off the aft magazine, and then the flash from that explosion traveled up some unblocked shell transfer passageway to the forward magazine and blew that up as well. That seems pretty dangerous to me that a shell could hit either magazine (or possibly even just penetrate and explode in the passageway that ran the length of the ship) and cause a catastrophic ship-wide explosion.

      So all but (I think) 3 sailors on the Hood died and the ship a pile of scrap that is barely recognizable as a ship on the floor of the Iceland-Greenland strait. If just one magazine had gone up it still would have been fatal, but I have to believe there would have been more survivors.

      1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

        Re: lucky hit

        Apparently the fatal shell not only penetrated the Hood's deck armor, but also several other decks, set off the aft magazine, and then the flash from that explosion traveled up some unblocked shell transfer passageway to the forward magazine and blew that up as well.

        Not having the bulkhead doors closed in battle? This is the first time I hear it, but it does not surprise me. Grand idiocy for which in any other Navy from the beginning of the days of steam all the way to today you would have been court-martialed. You cannot do planned flooding of counter-compartments after a hit unless all bulkhead doors are closed to start off with. If they are in open state to start with by the time you get around to close them you are either capsizing or on the bottom.

        The difference in between having them open and closed is also well documented - multiple German ships at the battle Jutland had hits in the gunpowder storage resulting in loss of everything vertically in that area including the guns on top. The ships continued fighting.

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: lucky hit

          Jutland - Tactical victory for Germany, strategic victory for UK.

          Apparently, the Germans said after the war that we were lucky that our ships sank. The state of the High Seas Fleet when it arrived in port shocked people. The Grand Fleet was ready for battle again soon after, the High Seas Fleet mutinied.

          1. Jay 2

            Re: lucky hit

            Agreed.

            Royal Navy victory = German fleet never came out to play again.

            German victory = Lost fewer ships than the Royal Navy (which was not bad considering that the RN was probably the world's most powerful navy at the time, though it wouldn't stay that way for too long).

            1. LDS Silver badge

              "Royal Navy victory = German fleet never came out to play again."

              That's the difference from a strategical victory and a tactical one. The Coral Sea battle had a similar outcome, US Navy lost the Lexington and had the Yorktown damaged, while Japan only lost the small Shoho. But it had also an attack carrier heavily damaged, and both carriers lost a big part of their planes and pilots.

              The Yorktown would have been repaired in time for Midway - while the Japanese carriers weren't available. So four carrier instead of six against three. And Japan lost the war.

              1. x 7

                Re: "Royal Navy victory = German fleet never came out to play again."

                Also take into account that Japan had limited capacity for training replacement pilots, so once the front line squadrons were eliminated the only replacements were untrained children who were given kamikazi missions that didn't require much teaching. Japanese version of the suicide bomber.....

                1. LDS Silver badge

                  Re: "Royal Navy victory = German fleet never came out to play again."

                  Yes, that's why they took so long to make the carrier combat ready again. Also, they kept veteran pilots on the front line, instead of turning them into instructors also, to distribute as much as possible the skills and experience gained in combat to new pilots.

                2. Mooseman Bronze badge

                  Re: "Royal Navy victory = German fleet never came out to play again."

                  " untrained children who were given kamikazi missions that didn't require much teaching"

                  Well, partly the lack of trained pilots and also the lack of fuel towards the end of the war, which meant that they had enough fuel for one-way trips and not much else. This is also why they sent the Yamato on a one way suicide trip.

        2. Jay 2

          Re: lucky hit

          I seem to recall the Royal Navy also losing a few ships at Jutland due to something along the lines of bulkheads not being closed round the magazines. Hence Beatty's well-known remark of "There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today".

          1. Andytug

            Re: lucky hit

            Worse than that, the team that sent ROVs down to the British wrecks at Jutland a couple of years ago found that not only had flash-proof doors been bypassed between magazine and turret, there were cordite charges stored all over the passages in between. The RN at the time was obsessed with rate of fire over everything else, and it came back to bite them badly.

          2. x 7

            Re: lucky hit

            Standard practice not to shut bulkheads so to allow easier handling of shells and coal.

            Stupid, against regulations, but tolerated.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: lucky hit

              The reason was the excessive stress on rate of fire, without allowing the time for the necessary training (cleaning the deck and making brass shine is usually more important), so commanders closed an eye when during exercise shortcuts was taken to meet the expected results.

      2. JimC

        Re: lucky hit

        Misuse of the ship. The idea of the battle cruiser was that it could run from anything it couldn't outrange. Going head to head with a battleship was always going to be a losing game unless the battleship was very badly handled. Should have shadowed it and picked off Prince Eugen if they got the opportunity.

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: lucky hit

      I say those Bismark gunners made their own luck

      Exactly.

      Everything points to Hood failing to avoid a straddle - even the report by the official board of inquiry (*). It was ranged - shots over, shot under and it should have been manoeuvring like hell out of the incoming salvo in the middle and it did not. So it took the incoming salvo straight on the chin.

      (*)It tries to add various adjectives to it like "unlucky", etc, but the essence is exactly that - it was declassified even before the war was over and is available for all to read.

      1. Mooseman Bronze badge

        Re: lucky hit

        "Everything points to Hood failing to avoid a straddle "

        Hood was running like hell TOWARDS the Bismarck to avoid shots like the one that killed her, as her captain was well aware of the failings of the WW1 design of battlecruisers. In the end Hood fell victim to the same kind of design flaw that destroyed a number of British ships at Jutland. Yes, the shell was lucky enough to penetrate, but the design of the Hood was the fatal flaw.

    4. GrumpyKiwi

      Re: lucky hit

      Hood was desperately rushing to get closer to Bismarck so that hits would be more likely to land on her side armour which was considerably better than her deck armour. Hence the lack of zig-zagging.

      She'd been scheduled for a full rebuild commencing in late 1939 which would have made significant differences to her armour protection - similar to the job done on HMS Renown between 1936 and 1939 with the idea that she'd become a carrier escort. Unfortunately September 1939 got in the way.

  11. Kev99

    I personally hope he can recover some of the planes on the deck. Those would be invaluable additions to the National Naval Air Museum.

    http://www.navalaviationmuseum.org/

    1. LDS Silver badge

      From 3km below? It would be very difficult - and expensive - to bring them to surface without damaging them heavily.

    2. JimC

      but after so many years immersed in seawater

      How well would they last in an oxygen rich environment?

      See this for some of the problems...

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43334700

  12. David Pearce

    What paint did they use? 76 years in seawater and the planes paintwork looks like it just needs a wipe over

    1. Andytug

      At that sort of depth

      there's not much oxygen or anything else to cause decay, so non-organic stuff lasts a long time.

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