Learn More About the USS Lexington, Host of PBR Air Force Reserve Cowboys for a Cause

By: Darci Miller

PUEBLO, Colo. – This weekend, 15 of the best bull riders in the world head to Corpus Christi, Texas, for PBR Air Force Reserve Cowboys for a Cause. The invitational team event will feature five teams of three cowboys, riding on the deck of the USS Lexington to support military members and their families through PBR’s new charity initiative.

Fans can catch all the action on Nov. 22 at 3 p.m. ET or 5 p.m. ET on CBS (check local listings) and don’t miss the PBR Air Force Reserve Cowboys For A Cause Preshow on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. ET and Nov. 22 at 2:30 p.m. ET on CBS Sports Network.

The USS Lexington has an incredibly storied past. The ship’s record includes active combat in World War II, a service life spanning more than 40 years and a designation as a National Historic Landmark. While bucking bulls on its flight deck will be a first, the Lexington is no stranger to etching its name in the history books.

Read on to learn more about the USS Lexington as it prepares to play host to the PBR.


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1941: The ship was laid down on July 15. An Essex-class carrier, she was originally named the USS Cabot.

1942: When word was received during construction that the original carried named USS Lexington had been sunk in the Coral Sea, the new carrier’s name was changed to Lexington and launched in September.

1943: The USS Lexington was commissioned in February.

1944: Lexington joined the fifth fleet at Pearl Harbor. During World War II, the carrier participated in nearly every major operation in the Pacific Theater and spent 21 months in combat.

The Japanese reported Lexington sunk at least four times, yet each time she returned to fight again, earning her the nickname “the Blue Ghost.” Her planes destroyed 372 enemy aircraft in the air, and 475 more on the ground. She sank or destroyed 300,000 tons of enemy cargo and damaged an additional 600,000 tons. Her guns shot down 15 planes and assisted in drowning five more.

1947: Lexington was briefly decommissioned after the war.

1955: Lexington was reactivated and operated primarily with the Seventh Fleet out of San Diego, California. She was not involved in active combat, but kept an offshore vigil during tensions in Formosa, Laos and Cuba.

1962: Lexington sailed into Pensacola, Florida, and began training operations. She was eventually designated CVT-16, Navy Training Carrier.

1967: Lexington marked her 200,000th arrested landing by an aircraft on October 17.

1980: On August 18, Lexington became the first aircraft carrier in United States naval history to have women stationed aboard as crew members.

1991: With an active service life longer than any other Essex-class ship, Lexington was decommissioned.

1992: After 30 years in Pensacola, the USS Lexington docked in Corpus Christi, Texas, and now operates as the USS Lexington Museum on the Bay.

2003: Lexington was designated a National Historic Landmark, and is the oldest remaining fleet carrier in the world.


Crew: 1,550 men and women, about 3,000 during World War II.

Length of the flight deck: 910 feet.

Flight deck landing area: 90,000 square feet.

Height (water line to flight deck): 52 feet.

Maximum width: 196 feet.

Speed: 30-plus knots.

Decks: 16, from top of pilot house to double bottom.

Fresh water production: 180,000 gallons per day.

Fuel storage: 1,500 gallons for ship’s fuel, 440,000 gallons for aviation fuel.

Medical facilities: surgical facilities with 20-bed capacity, two doctors.

Library: more than 40,000 books.

Anchors: 15 tons, 50 pounds.

Food service: crew consumed 660 pounds of meat, 164 gallons of milk and 97 dozen eggs daily.


You could play three football games on the USS Lexington’s flight deck simultaneously.

Lexington has steamed more miles (209,000) and served longer (40 years) than any other Essex-class carrier in the world.

Lexington carries enough fuel to sail nonstop for 30,000 miles, or enough to drive a car around the world 132 times.

Lexington has crossed the equator 14 times and the International Date Line six times.

Lexington has more telephones than a city of 5,000, can produce enough power to supply a city of 150,000 and has more sleeping space than the largest hotel in the world.

Lexington was the first carrier to establish a seagoing high school, doing so on Sept. 21, 1967.

And in 2020, Lexington will become the first aircraft carrier ever to host a PBR event on its deck.

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