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Lexington class battle cruiser

The Lexington class battlecruisers (assigned hull classification symbols CC-1 through CC-6), authorized under the 1917-1919 building programs, were the only ships of their type ever ordered by the United States Navy. Intended as fast combat scouts for the battle fleet, these large ships had a prolonged development history. Their original 1916 design was to displace 34,300 tons with a main battery of ten 14-inch guns, relatively light armor and a speed of 35 knots. By 1919, the plans had been recast on the basis of World War I experience to produce larger ships armed with 16-inch guns, better protection and a slightly lower speed.

Construction of the Lexington class ships was held up by other priorities during the First World War, and none of them were laid down until mid-1920. The following year's naval limitations conference in Washington, DC, had these expensive battlecruisers, and their Japanese and British contemporaries, among its main targets. Following adoption of the Washington Naval Treaty, their construction was stopped in February 1922. The treaty allowed the conversion of two of the battle cruiser hulls to the aircraft carriers Lexington (CV-2) and Saratoga (CV-3). The other four were formally cancelled in August 1923 and scrapped on their building ways.

The Lexington class consisted of six ships, under construction at four locations:

General Characteristics (1919 design)

  • Displacement: 43,500 tons
  • Length: 874 feet
  • Beam: 105.5 feet
  • Draft: 31 feet
  • Primary Armament: eight 16-inch/50 guns in four twin turrets
  • Secondary Armament: 16 six-inch/53 guns in single mounts (eight per side), four three-inch guns, eight 21-inch torpedo tubes
  • Machinery, 180,000 shp General Electric geared turbines with electric drive, 4 screws
  • Speed, 35 Knots
  • Complement 1500 officers and men

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