The Durable Lexington
When searching for longevity in aircraft carrier performance, one need look no further than the former USS Lexington, now a museum in Corpus Christi Bay, Texas. Her active service lasted so long that she ran through an alphabet soup of hull numbers: CV-16, CVA-16, CVS-16, CVT-16, and AVT-16. They reflected her changing roles over the years, beginning with service as an attack carrier, later as an antisubmarine carrier, and finally as the training platform for at least two generations of naval aviators.
Her career began with commissioning in 1943 and combat service throughout the remainder of World War II. She and her sisters of the Essex (CV-9) class formed the core of the striking force that carried the war through the Central Pacific campaign and then to the Japanese Home Islands. The "Lex" was Vice Admiral Marc Mitscher's flagship as he commanded the fast-carrier striking force during two great air-sea battles of 1944: "The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" in June and the Battle of Leyte Gulf in October.