Navy Battleship USS Texas Is Making the Ultimate Comeback

Battleship USS Texas U.S. Navy
January 23, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: USS TexasU.S. NavyNavyBattleshipsMilitary

Navy Battleship USS Texas Is Making the Ultimate Comeback

Last Spring, the Battleship Texas Foundation revealed that the mighty USS Texas would head to a new home to undergo long-awaited repairs. For more than seven decades, the battleship was positioned non-permanent across from the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte.

 

USS Texas Is Getting Some Critical Repairs: Last Spring, the Battleship Texas Foundation revealed that the mighty USS Texas would head to a new home to undergo long-awaited repairs. For more than seven decades, the battleship was positioned non-permanent across from the San Jacinto Monument in La Porte.

She is the last surviving battleship that survived both the First and Second World Wars.

 

While The State of Texas owns the ship and had considered scrapping her altogether, the rich history associated with the USS Texas has given her a second lifeline.

As briefly stated by the Vice President of Development at The Battleship Texas Foundation, "Where else a child can go and put their hands physically on something that served in both of the World Wars? It serves as that resounding and lasting connection to that generation, to the sacrifice that they made.”

A History of the USS Texas Battleship

The USS Texas was initially constructed in 1910. As the second Navy ship to be named after the Lone Star State, the Texas was officially launched two years later. Newport News Shipbuilding submitted a winning bid of nearly $6 million at the time (not including the cost of armament and armor) prior to the contract being signed.

The ship’s main battery consisted of ten 14 inch 45 caliber Mark 1 guns which were able to fire 1,400 pound armor-piercing shells at a range of 13 miles. Additionally, the Texas featured four 21 inch torpedo tues for the Bliss-Leavitt Mark 8 torpedo.

Operational History

Back in 1914, the USS Texas first came close to combat when Mexican federal troops detained an American gunboat at Tampico. The subsequent “Tampico Incident” became so tense that the Texas actually missed the usual shakedown cruise and post-shakedown repair period that ships typically underwent and instead sailed directly to operational duty.

Two years later, Texas became the first American battleship to sport anti-aircraft guns with the addition of two 3 inch 50-caliber guns on platforms positioned on top of the boat canes. This re-outfitting would become vitally significant considering the imminent outbreak of the first World War.

USS Texas

In 1917, one of the gun crews trained aboard the Texas would sight a surfaced German U-boat while assigned to the merchant vessel Mongolia. The crew member opened fire on the enemy ship, averting an attack on Mongolia while also firing the first American shots of the war.

Throughout the conflict, Texas patrolled the North Sea and escorted President Woodrow Wilson to peace talks in France. The only action the battleship saw was firing her guns once at a suspected but never confirmed German submarine. Following the end of WWI, Texas returned home for an overhaul.

USS Texas

The USS Texas notably achieved the distinction of being the first U.S. battleship to launch an aircraft in 1919. While stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Lieutenant Commander Edward O. McDonnell piloted a Sopwith Camel off the deck of the ship.  

As part of her modernization, Texas’ 14 Babcock & Wilcox coal-fired boilers were replaced with 6 Bureau Express oil-fired boilers. Additionally, anti-torpedo bulges and enhanced fire-control equipment were incorporated.

USS Texas

During the Second World War, Texas would shell German defenses at the D-Day invasion. Ernest Hemingway, who was embedded with a group of GIs at Normandy recalled “There would be a flash like a blast furnace from the 14-inch guns of the Texas.

Then the yellow-brown smoke would cloud out and, with the smoke still rolling, the concussion and the report would hit us, jarring the men’s helmets. It struck your near ear like a punch with a heavy, dry glove.”

USS Texas

How the Battleship USS Texas Became a Floating Museum

Following WWII, Texas was relegated to retirement where she would become the nation’s first battleship to be turned into a floating museum. Since April 21, 1948, the warship has remained in the Houston Ship Channel- the same location where Texian troops surprised and defeated the Mexican Army in 1836.

All those years on the water did trigger some issues aboard the boat. In 2017, a hole located below the waterline opened and caused the battleship to list six degrees. Pumps have kept Texas afloat as it took on 2,000 gallons of water every minute. A $35 million dollar federal grant has allowed the ship to receive a ‘major surgery’ in dry dock at the Gulf Copper Dry Dock & Rig Repair near Galveston.

USS Texas

In 2019, the Battleship Texas Foundation was given operational control of the battleship for a period of 99 years. The foundation wants the next resting place of Texas to be a more permanent home. Since USS Texas allows onlookers to view WWI-era naval technology, the preservation of this legendary battleship is arguably important.

USS Texas

About the Author: Maya Carlin 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin