U.S. Navy Battleship USS Texas Is Close To Making the Ultimate Comeback

USS Texas Battleship
January 12, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: USS TexasBattleshipsU.S. NavyNavyMilitaryWorld War IIWorld War I

U.S. Navy Battleship USS Texas Is Close To Making the Ultimate Comeback

After being retired following the Second World War, USS Texas became the nation's first battleship to be turned into a floating museum and she was transferred to the Lone Star State.

Battleship USS Texas Could be Back in the Water in February - The only surviving battleship to see service in both World Wars is looking practically brand new – following a multi-year and multi-million dollar restoration effort. USS Texas could also be returned to the water next month, after spending the entirety of 2023 in drydock underground repairs to her hull, it was reported this week that the historic warship.

The honorary flagship of the Texas Navy remains at Gulf Copper Dry Dock & Rig Repair Co. on Pelican Island, but according to the Battleship Texas Foundation, the historic battleship will be ready for refloating by mid-February.

Even as the USS Texas has been undergoing such massive repairs, it has remained a popular tourist attraction – and on weekends, visitors were able to walk around the ship and see the hull as it sat in the drydock in Galveston undergoing $60 million repairs, notably to the ship's hull – which had rusted so badly that there were serious fears the ship would sink.

Work on the hull has been completed, and the USS Texas recently received a fresh paint job that matches its coloring exactly as it was during the Second World War. The new paint, in the traditional shad of 5-N Navy Blue, had been matched from existing samples taken from both inside and outside of the battleship, The Houston Chronicle reported. It mirrors the ship's camouflage scheme that the historic warship had when it entered the Pacific Theater during the Second World War.

As a result, the USS Texas is now just one of only two museum ships currently decked out in wartime coloring, the foundation noted. In addition, the hull has been coated with a special epoxy that was designed to guard against corrosion.

The Battleship Texas Foundation, the nonprofit organization entrusted with the ship’s maintenance and marketing, shared a lengthy update on its website and social media last week and announced that weekly tours of the ship at the Gulf Copper facility on Pelican Island have sold out through the end of the month.

 "Some troublesome areas were found once the ships was sandblasted, so additional repairs have been made," the foundation said. "These areas will be blasted and coated before the ship submerges in the water once again."

Weather permitting, the USS Texas could be back in the water next month, but there is still a long way to go before the ship will make her next "voyage," which will see her travel across the harbor to her eventual long-term home in Pier 21.

Battleship USS Texas

The rest of 2024 will see work continue on the deck, superstructure, and aft fire control areas. If all goes as planned, the USS Texas will be back and ready to receive visitors in early 2025.

Battleship USS Texas: The First Museum Ship

After being retired following the Second World War, USS Texas became the nation's first battleship to be turned into a floating museum and she was transferred to the Lone Star State. Since April 21, 1948, the gallant warship was located in the Houston Ship Channel near the San Jacinto Battleground Memorial – the location where Texian troops led by Gen. Sam Houston surprised and quickly defeated the Mexican Army in 1836.

 was considered a fitting location for what became the honorary flagship of the Texas Navy.

However, all those decades spent in the water had taken their toll on the old battle wagon, and in June 2017, a six-by-eight-inch hole about fifteen feet below the waterline opened and caused the USS Texas to list six degrees. It had been kept afloat by pumps as it took on 2,000 gallons of water a minute.

Battleship USS Texas

The situation was so dire that there were concerns the ship could sink. Fortunately, work has been taken to ensure that the warship won't be lost to the elements.

The vessel has been undergoing what foundation officials described as a "major surgery" in dry dock at the Gulf Copper Dry Dock & Rig Repair near Galveston. Restoration on the USS Texas began a year ago, with most of the repairs being funded by a $35 million federal grant.

The warship won't return to her former home following repairs, however. According to the Battleship Texas Foundation, it had only seen 80,000 to 90,000 visitors a year at the San Jacinto Monument – located approximately 25 miles east of Houston.

That was far below what's needed for it to be self-sustaining. A number of suitable locations had been considered for the future home of the historic vessel, but in September 2023, it was announced that the Battleship Texas Foundation signed an agreement to keep the ship at Pier 21, near the Galveston Historic Seaport, which is also home to the 1877 Tall Ship ELISSA.

USS Texas

"Where else can a child go and put their hands physically on something that served in both of the World Wars?" said Matt Pham, the foundation's vice president of development. "It serves as that resounding and lasting connection to that generation, to the sacrifice that they made."

Wartime Service

Though far from the massive battleship that would see service in World War II, the New York-class warship's main battery featured ten 14-inch 45-caliber guns capable of firing 1,400-pound armor-piercing shells up to 13 miles; the secondary battery was outfitted with 5-inch 51-caliber guns. In addition, BB-35's torpedo rooms housed 12 torpedoes as well as 12 naval defense mines.

Following America's entry in the First World War, BB-35 joined the Grand Fleet and provided support for the British Squadron. Though she did not see significant combat action, USS Texas still was part of the Battleship Force of the Atlantic Fleet.

USS Texas

The next war was to be much different.

USS Texas took part in her first combat operations of the Second World War as part of Task Group 34.8 (TG 34.8) in support of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, and was it was from the battleship that Lt. General Dwight D. Eisenhower's made his first "Voice of Freedom" broadcast, which called up the Vichy French forces defending Morocco not to oppose the Allied landings.

On June 6, 1944, she was among the warships to provide supporting fire during the Normandy landings. The battle wagon further participated in the bombardment of Cherbourg, during which she was hit by enemy coastal artillery fire but suffered no serious damage.

After undergoing repairs in Plymouth, England, the USS Texas took part in the Allied invasion of the South of France during Operation Dragoon. Following an overhaul in New York City, which involved replacing her main battery barrels, the USS Texas returned to the Pacific and later provided naval gunfire support during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The vessel earned a total of five battle stars for her service in the Second World War.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].

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