Lexington-class aircraft carrier
The Lexington-class carriers were built during the inter-war period between the Great War and World War II. The ships were built in response to the restrictions on the construction of battleships and battlecruisers from the Washington Arms Treaty(1922). The hulls were nearly complete when the conversion to carriers was begun. Most of the ships internal layout had been completed including the gun tubs requiring major reworking in order to finish them as carriers. It was also due to this that even though the ships are larger then the later Yorktown-class vessels they only had an airwing of 78 aircraft. Two ships of the class were built. The ships are well known for their distinctive island and funnel with a black strip painted on the Saratoga to make it distinguishable from the Lexington (this was done to prevent pilots from mistakenly landing on the wrong ship).
The images of the unfinished ship's internal structures(much of which was completely changed in the final ships) is what lead to politicians believing that carriers could be easily converted back to fighting ships. This lead to new restrictions on carriers in the London Arms treaty.
Both of these ships were participants in Pacific Theater of World War Two.
The USS-Lexington served in the Pacific Fleet until it was sunk at the Battle Of Coral Sea. The ship was attempted to be saved but because of the many design limitations made in its designs they were unable to correct its list and soon catastrophic fires enveloped the ship when a small almost contained fire ignited the main aviation fuel tanks on the ship.
The USS-Saratoga also served in the Pacific Theater and while it saw extensive action it did end up spending much of its time during the war in dry dock from 1941 - 1943 because of technical issues with ship's equipment or damage from Japanese submarine torpedoes. Once those issues had been dealt with, however it served admirably until it was taken out of action because of multiple Kamikaze hits during the Battle of Okinawa.
After the war, the Saratoga was retired from active duty. Instead of being scrapped it was instead used as part of nuclear weapons testing at Bikini Atoll and was placed in the center of the test area. After the nuclear weapons test the ship slowly foundered and eventually sank as part of the test but only after several days. Because of the levels of radiation, it was impossible for any damage control activiites to prevent the damage from sinking the vessel.
Name: Lexington class
Builders: Fore River Shipyard New York Shipbuilding Corporation
Operators: United States Navy
Cost: about $45,000,000
In service: 1927–46
In commission: 1927–45
General characteristics (as built)
Type: Aircraft carrier Displacement: 36,000 long tons (37,000 t) (standard) 43,055 long tons (43,746 t) (deep load)
Length: 888 ft (270.7 m)
Beam: 106 ft (32.3 m)
Draft: 30 ft 5 in (9.3 m) (deep load)
Installed power: 180,000 shp (130,000 kW) 16 water-tube boilers Propulsion: 4 shafts 4 sets turbo-electric transmission
Speed: 33.25 knots (61.58 km/h; 38.26 mph)
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 2,791 (including aviation personnel) in 1942 Armament:
4 × twin 8-inch (203 mm) guns 12 × single 5-inch (127 mm) anti-aircraft guns
Armor: Belt: 5–7 in (127–178 mm) Deck: .75–2 in (19–51 mm) Gun turrets: .75 in (19 mm) Bulkheads: 5–7 in (127–178 mm)
Aircraft carried: 78
Aviation facilities: 1 Aircraft catapult