From: A Lion uses all its might to catch a Rabbit
It's nearly dusk as LEXINGTON crawls her way towards Shortlands Harbour. Captain Sherman knows the battle to save the great ship is lost. All he needs now is a little more time - time she does not have. If he can conn her in to shallow water, she might settle well enough to some day be salvaged.
At 17:43, what began as a slow moan of metal builds into a cataclysm of heat, steam, fire, smoke, and shrapnel. Another, then another. Tired, battered, and at the end of the line, Lady Lex shudders to a stop.
Fredrick Sherman needs no more convincing. "Pass the word: Abandon Ship". As he moves through the men he watches the officers and chiefs. He's proud of them as they shepherd their charges over the side. Wounded into life boats, able-bodied into the sea.
The water is nearly to the flight deck as the last of those who are able to leave the ship for the last time make their way off. Sherman turns to his Exec., "Well, time to get wet," and steps off the deck. What should have been a few seconds was almost immediate. LEXINGTON was under, disappearing to her grave at 31 fathoms.
A voice was heard to call out: "She's going with her head up! A lady to the last." LEXINGTON was no more.
For the next 3 hours, NORTHAMPTON, MINNEAPOLIS, HELENA, HONOLULU, and the screening destroyers plucked men from the sea. At 21:30, Sherman gave the order to head south. The Battle of Bismarck Archipelago was over.
SARATOGA and ENTERPRISE are to retire south. ENTERPRISE has suffered extensive collateral damage, and is estimated to be laid up for several months.
Many of LEXINGTON's aircraft were lost with her in the explosions. More were lost with the taking of Rabaul by the Japanese. CAG-2 will fight again...
-Lost 1 CV, 1 DD
-Damaged 4 CV (2 very heavily), 1 CA
-Lost 1 CV, 1 CA, 3 DD
-Damaged 1 CV, 3 CA, 2 DD
Somewhat of a tactical draw, as both sides are left with one undamaged carrier, but more of a strategic Allied win, as this forces Japan to reconsider its options.
In other news, a squadron of 4 OMAHA class CL's laid some smack down on the troops at Wotje Island.
Force Z has been ordered out of the area of Batavia for upkeep and refit.
Dutch RADM Karel Doorman has taken a task force of CL's and DD's north to Tarakan to see what mischief he can cause...
< Message edited by Admiral DadMan -- 2/28/2019 1:46:08 AM >