This World War II-era aircraft carrier is a floating naval museum. During the war, the Lexington was in almost every major operation in the Pacific theater, and planes from her decks destroyed 372 enemy aircraft in flight and an additional 475 on the ground. She was dubbed "The Blue Ghost" because of the ship's blue-gray color, and because Japanese propaganda radio broadcaster Tokyo Rose repeatedly and mistakenly announced that the Lexington had been sunk. The Lexington was modernized in the 1950s and served in the U.S. 7th Fleet, including duty during the Vietnam War.
Tours of the "Lady Lex" are self-guided. A big-screen theater shows IMAX movies, and a video details the history of the ship with historic film footage. There are a number of exhibits, such as a Navy Seal submarine and interpretive displays of ship engines, plus a flight simulator that, for $4 per person, provides a wild 5-minute ride simulating the experience of flying. But being on the actual boat, climbing up and down ladders between decks, seeing the ship's hospital and mess hall, and exploring its narrow passages give the visitor a more concrete sense of what life was like on this carrier than any film. Not many museums can do this sort of thing. On the flight deck are more than a dozen aircraft from the 1930s to the 1960s, including an F-14A Tomcat and a Cobra helicopter. You can also get a close-up look at the ship's 40-millimeter antiaircraft guns. The Lexington has a large gift shop and a snack bar. Allow at least 2 hours.
Note: Although some parts of the USS Lexington are easily accessible by anyone, seeing many of the best parts, such as the flight deck, bridge, and engine room, involves climbing a lot of steep, old metal stairs and ladders, stepping over metal barricades, and maneuvering through tight passageways. Those with mobility problems will most likely not be able to get to everything.
- © Frommer's 2013
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- Highly Recommended 2010