Battle of the Coral Sea
The Japanese decided against the invasion of the Australian mainland. Instead, they intended to attack and take Rabaul then use it as base from which to impose a blockade between Australia and its bases on the islands of Fiji, New Hebrides, Samoa, and the Solomons which they plan on establishing.
In May 1942, a Japanese invasion fleet set off from Rabaul to take Port Moresby. A carrier force was also dispatched to interdict US carriers that might try to stop their deliberate attack. On 2nd May, they landed on Tulagi in the Solomons while their invasion fleet headed for Port Moresby.
The Allies had the fortune f cracking Japanese codes thus intercepting and deciphering Japanese radio transmissions; a US carrier force with the support of Australian cruisers and destroyers waited to intercept the Japanese invaders. The US ships which included aircraft carriers Yorktown and Lexington was commanded by Rear Admiral Fletcher of the US Navy. The Australian ships Hobart and Australia was under the command of Rear Admiral John Crace.
On 7th May, US aircrafts located and sank Japanese carrier Shoho. A day later, US carrier Lexington was attacked by the Japanese which caught ablaze and sank that afternoon. On 8th May US carrier Yorktown and Japanese carrier Shokaku were damaged before the Japanese withdrew.
The Battle of the Coral Sea was the largest naval battle to have been fought close to Australia. It was battle fought by aircrafts attacking ships and not ships attacking ships. It was the first time the Japan’s southward advance was halted.
A month after the Battle of the Coral Sea, the Japanese were defeated in the Battle of Midway where four Japanese aircraft carriers were sunk by the Americans. In June 1942, plans to take Fiji, New Hebrides, and Samoa was abandoned by the Japanese.