Battleship Texas State Historic Site

History

Construction History

The Texas is the last of the battleships, patterned after HMS Dreadnought, that participated in World Wars I and II. She was launched on May 18, 1912, from Newport News, Virginia. When the USS Texas was commissioned on March 12,1914, she was the most powerful weapon in the world, the most complex product of an industrial nation just beginning to become a force in global events.

In 1916, Texas became the first U.S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, analog forerunners of today's computers. In 1919, Texas became the first U.S. battleship to launch an aircraft.

Video from the Battleship Texas Century Celebration

In 1925, the Texas underwent major modifications. She was converted to oil-fired boilers, tripod masts and a single stack were added to the main deck, and the 5 inch guns that bristled from her sides were reduced in number and moved to the main deck to minimize problems with heavy weather and high seas. Blisters were also added as protection against torpedo attack.

The Texas received the first commercial radar in the U.S. Navy in 1939. New anti-aircraft batteries, fire control and communication equipment allowed the ship to remain an aging but powerful unit in the U.S. naval fleet. In 1940, Texas was designated flagship of U.S. Atlantic Fleet. The First Marine Division was founded aboard the Texas early in 1941. April 21, 1948, the Texas was decommissioned.

The Texas holds the distinguished designation of a National Historic Landmark and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.

Naval History

After being commissioned, the Texas proceeded almost immediately to Mexican waters where she joined the Special Service Squadron following the "Vera Cruz Incident." She returned to the Atlantic Fleet operations in the fall of 1914, after the Mexican crisis was resolved.

After the United States entered World War I, she spent the year 1917 training gun crews for merchant ships that were often attacked by gunfire from surfaced submarines. Texas joined the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet early in 1918. Operating out of Scapa Flow and the Firth of Forth, Texas protected forces laying a North Sea mine barrage, responded to German High Seas Fleet sorties, fired at submarine periscopes observed by multiple ships, and helped prevent enemy naval forces from interrupting the supply of Allied forces in Europe. Late in 1918, she escorted the German Fleet en route to its surrender anchorage and escorted President Wilson to peace talks in France.

In 1919, she served as a plane guard and navigational reference for the first trans-Atlantic flight by the seaplane NC-4, after which she transferred to the Pacific Fleet. Among other notables, she embarked President Coolidge for a trip to Cuba in 1928.

In 1941 while on "Neutrality Patrol" in the Atlantic, Texas was stalked unsuccessfully by the German submarine U-203. TEXAS escorted Atlantic convoys against potential attack by German warships after America entered into World War II in December 1941. In 1942, Texas transmitted General Eisenhower's first "Voice of Freedom" broadcast, asking the French not to oppose Allied landings on North Africa. The appeal went unheeded and the Texas provided gunfire support for the amphibious assault on Morocco, putting Walter Cronkite ashore to begin his career as a war correspondent. After further convoy duty, the Texas fired on Nazi defenses at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Shortly afterwards, she was hit twice in a duel with German coastal defense artillery near Cherbourg, suffering one fatality and 13 wounded. Quickly repaired, she shelled Nazi positions in Southern France before transferring to the Pacific where she lent gunfire support and anti-aircraft fire to the landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.


General Ship Data

Class - New York Class Battleship
Length - 573 feet
Beam - 106 feet
Normal Draft - 28 feet 6 inches
Displacement - 34,000 tons
Speed - 21 knots
Crew - 1,820

Armament

  • Main Battery:
    Year 1944 - 10 - 14"/45 caliber guns in 5 turrets
    Range - 12 miles
    Projectiles - Armor Piercing - 1500 lbs
    Projectiles - High Explosive - 1275 lbs
    Full Broadside - Armor Piercing - 15,000 lbs
    Rate of Fire - 1.5 rounds per minute
    Turret Crew - 70 men
  • Secondary Battery:
    Year 1914 - 21 - 5"/51-caliber guns
    Year 1945 - 6 - 5"/51-caliber guns
    Torpedo Tubes:
    Year 1914 - 21" TT
    Year 1945 - 10 - 3"/50-caliber guns; 10 - 40 mm quad mounted guns; 44 - 20 mm guns



Tour the Battleship Texas

Take a few minutes and allow us to take you on a tour of this warship. Imagine the adventure, bravery and hardship of the crew. You will enter the main deck on the starboard side of the ship.

Restoration of the Texas

Through the private donations and efforts of the people and businesses of the State of Texas, in addition to state funds, the ship underwent dry dock overhaul in 1988-90 and systematic restoration was begun. Instead of peacetime gray, the Texas was painted Measure 21 blue camouflage, which she wore during service in the Pacific in 1945. Nearly 350,000 pounds of steel plating were replaced that were previously removed by the Navy, and structural repairs were made to the masts and superstructure of the ship. Following the removal of the non-historic layer of concrete on the main deck, work began on the installation of a new wooden decking.

The work of saving the Texas in the late 1980s has been a great source of pride throughout the state. The restoration would not have been possible if it had not been for the efforts of thousands of people including many school age children who gave their pennies to save the Texas. While the ship officially reopened to the public on September 8, 1990, her restoration is not complete. During the last 10 years, many compartments and work areas on the ship have been carefully refurnished to portray life on a warship in 1945; however, plans are underway for a $29 million project to provide a dry-berth and renovations for the ship at its current location.


Battleship Texas Foundation

The Battleship Texas Foundation was created to assist ongoing preservation and educational efforts aboard this historic ship. Your membership in the foundation helps ensure that the "Mighty T" continues to tell the story of those who fought for freedom on both sides of the globe. The foundation engages in fundraising efforts to assist the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with education, restoration and maintenance efforts aboard the Battleship Texas. They also operate a Youth Education Program to give youth group participants an opportunity to spend the night aboard ship and learn about Navy life in general.


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