March 6 (UPI) -- A sunken U.S. aircraft carrier from World War II was found off the Australian coast by a search team led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
The sunken ship was recognized as the USS Lexington, which was sunk by Japan's navy during a battle between May 4 and 8, 1942.
"To pay tribute to the USS Lexington and the brave men that served on her is an honor," Allen said in a statement. "As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice."
Japanese warships hit the Lexington with several torpedoes and bombs during the four-day battle. But uncontrollable fires forced the crew to abandon the ship and let it sink. It was the first aircraft carrier casualty in history.
"With other U.S. ships standing by, 2,770 crewmen and officers were rescued, including the captain and his dog Wags, the ships ever-present mascot," a statement on Allen's website says.
Allen, who began searching for the vessel six months ago with his crew from the Research Vessel Petrel, said the ship was found Sunday nearly 2 miles below the Coral Sea's surface and about 500 miles off Australia's coast.
Adm. Harry Harris of U.S. Pacific Command praised the finding.
"As the son of a survivor of the USS Lexington, I offer my congratulations to Paul Allen and the expedition crew of Research Vessel (R/V) Petrel for locating the 'Lady Lex,' sunk nearly 76 years ago at the Battle of Coral Sea," Harris said.