The USS Texas, a battleship of the United States Navy, has a rich history spanning over a century. From its construction to its participation in significant battles, the USS Texas has left an indelible mark on naval warfare.

Here we will explore the origins of the USS Texas, its crew, armament, cost, battles fought, and its current status.

A Massive Undertaking

The USS Texas was built at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company in Newport News, Virginia. Construction began on April 17, 1911, and the ship was launched on May 18, 1912. It was commissioned into the U.S. Navy on March 12, 1914. The ship’s construction was part of the naval arms race occurring among world powers during that era.

In terms of size, the USS Texas was an impressive vessel. It had a length of 573 feet (175 meters) and a beam (width) of 95 feet (29 meters). The battleship displaced approximately 27,000 tons, making it one of the largest and most powerful warships of its time.

Read More: WW1 Shipwreck Contains Wine Worth Millions

The crew of the USS Texas consisted of over 1,000 personnel. This included officers, enlisted sailors, and marines. The crew members were highly trained individuals responsible for the ship’s operation, maintenance, and defence. They endured rigorous training to ensure the smooth functioning of the battleship and to be prepared for combat scenarios.

Armament

One of the notable features of the USS Texas was its armament. The battleship was armed with a powerful battery of main guns. These included ten 14-inch (356 mm) guns mounted in five twin turrets. These guns had a range of over 12 miles (19 kilometres) and were capable of firing armour-piercing shells, high-explosive projectiles, and even nuclear shells in later years.

The dreadnought USS Texas off New York in 1919.

In addition to the main guns, the USS Texas also had numerous secondary guns for anti-ship and anti-aircraft defence. This included twenty-one 5-inch (127 mm) guns, four 3-inch (76 mm) guns, and several smaller calibre guns. The battleship also featured torpedo tubes, allowing it to launch torpedoes against enemy vessels.

The USS Texas was a significant investment for the United States government. Its construction cost amounted to approximately $5.9 million, equivalent to about $160 million in today’s currency. This considerable expenditure underscored the importance placed on naval power projection during that time.

Read More: The Whale Submarine. A Killer of an Idea

The USS Texas saw action in several major battles. It played a prominent role in providing naval gunfire support to American forces during the landing at Veracruz, Mexico, in 1914. Shortly after its commissioning in March 1914, the USS Texas was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet.

The battleship also participated in convoy operations, escorting troop and supply ships across the Atlantic Ocean during WW1.

WW1

During World War I, the USS Texas played a significant role as a powerful battleship in the United States Navy. The outbreak of the war in 1914 brought a new era of naval warfare. The USS Texas was called upon to serve in various capacities throughout the conflict.

With the escalation of World War I in Europe, the USS Texas was deployed to the European theatre in 1917 as part of the U.S. Navy’s contribution to the Allied war effort. It joined the British Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where it operated alongside British battleships and played a vital role in maintaining a blockade of German ports.

The USS Texas boasted the first AA gun to be installed on an American battleship.

During its service in World War I, the USS Texas primarily conducted convoy escort duties. The Texas safeguarded merchant ships carrying troops and supplies to Europe. The battleship’s sheer size and firepower served as a deterrent to potential attacks by German U-boats. German submarines were a significant threat to Allied shipping.

Atlantic Convoy

The USS Texas escorted multiple convoys across the Atlantic Ocean, protecting them from enemy attacks. The ship’s presence provided reassurance to the merchant crews and helped maintain the flow of vital supplies to the Allied forces. Its heavy armament and anti-submarine capabilities made it a formidable adversary for any U-boat that dared to challenge the convoy.

The battleship’s involvement in World War I also included reconnaissance missions and patrols to locate and track enemy vessels. Its ability to navigate through treacherous waters and endure harsh weather conditions made it a valuable asset for gathering intelligence and monitoring enemy activities.

Read More: Sea Shanties, Scurvy & Superstitions: The Sailor in the 1800s

Although the USS Texas did not engage in direct combat with enemy warships during World War I, its mere presence in the North Sea served as a deterrent and helped maintain the balance of power. The battleship’s role in protecting convoys and ensuring the safe arrival of troops and supplies to Europe was vital to the Allied war effort.

Armistice

After the armistice in November 1918, the USS Texas continued its service in European waters for several months. She assisted in the repatriation of American troops and participating in victory celebrations. In March 1919, it returned to the United States, marking the end of its involvement in World War I.

An iconic ship from a bygone age. Its sleek design hasn’t aged a bit.

The USS Texas’s contributions during World War I were significant. It demonstrated the capabilities of American battleships and showcased the United States’ commitment to the Allied cause. Its successful escort of convoys and its role in maintaining the blockade played a crucial part in the overall victory of the Allies.

Read More: Japanese Submarine her 80-man Crew Still Entombed

The experiences and lessons learned during World War I would shape the future of naval warfare. It would influence the design and development of future battleships and the tactics employed in subsequent conflicts. The USS Texas’s service during this time marked an important chapter in its history and established its legacy as a formidable warship in the United States Navy.

WW2

During World War II the USS Texas played a significant role in numerous operations and battles across both the European and Pacific theatres. From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the USS Texas showcased its immense firepower and provided vital support to Allied forces. The USS Texas’s contributions during World War II and its involvement in key campaigns and battles were immense .

The ships powerful guns can clearly be seen here. Photo taken in 1943.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the USS Texas was assigned to convoy duty in the Atlantic Ocean. Its primary task was to protect merchant ships carrying troops and supplies across the treacherous waters infested by German U-boats. Throughout the early years of the war, the battleship escorted convoys to ensure their safe passage and mitigate the threat posed by enemy submarines.

Operation Torch

In November 1942, the USS Texas was transferred to the Pacific Theatre of Operations. It also participated in the Allied landings in North Africa as part of Operation Torch. The battleship’s main role was to provide heavy naval gunfire support to assist the Allied forces in their assault against Axis-held territories. The accurate and devastating fire from the USS Texas helped neutralise enemy defences and secure victory in the North African campaign.

Read More: Soviet Torpedo Boat Discovered After 78 years

In 1944, it played a crucial role in the lead-up to the D-Day invasion of Normandy. The battleship bombarded German coastal defences, providing support to the troops landing on the beaches. The accurate and relentless naval gunfire from the USS Texas helped create a path for the invasion forces and suppressed enemy resistance.

Iwo Jima

The USS Texas continued its service in the Pacific by participating in the Allied amphibious assaults on the Pacific islands.

One of the most notable contributions of the USS Texas during World War II was its involvement in the Battle of Iwo Jima in February 1945. The battleship played a pivotal role in providing extensive naval gunfire support to assist in the capture of the strategically important Japanese-held island. The USS Texas’s heavy guns pounded enemy positions. It helped to soften defences, and suppressed Japanese artillery, contributing to the success of the gruelling campaign.

A shell from a German coastal battery lands between the USS Texas and USS Arkansas off the coast of France in 1944.

Following the Battle of Iwo Jima, the USS Texas continued its service in the Pacific. It participated in the Battle of Okinawa, which marked one of the final major engagements of the war. The battleship’s accurate gunfire was utilised to support the amphibious landings and provide artillery support to ground forces. Its anti-aircraft guns also defended against enemy aircraft, protecting the fleet from aerial attacks.

Read More: WW2 Shipwreck: Time to Remove 1400 Tons of Explosives

Throughout its service in World War II, the USS Texas demonstrated its immense firepower and versatility. Equipped with a battery of powerful main guns and numerous secondary weapons, it effectively engaged enemy targets on land, at sea, and in the air. The battleship’s contribution to naval gunfire support played a crucial role in the success of amphibious operations and the advancement of Allied forces.

End of a Fighting Ship

After the end of World War II, the USS Texas’s active service came to a close. It was decommissioned on April 21, 1948, but its legacy and significance were far from over. The battleship was preserved as a museum ship, allowing visitors to explore its decks and learn about its historic role in the war.

The Cold War

After World War II, the USS Texas continued its service and underwent several modernisation and refit programs to adapt to changing naval warfare requirements. It was briefly reactivated during the Korean War but did not see combat action. The battleship was decommissioned in 1948 but was recommissioned in 1951 and served as a training ship and a ballistic missile tracking platform during the Cold War. It was eventually decommissioned for the final time on April 21, 1958, marking the end of its active service.

The USS Texas in dry dock undergoing restoration.

Today, the USS Texas has found a new purpose as a museum ship. It is permanently berthed at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site near Houston, Texas. The battleship serves as a memorial to all those who served on board and pays tribute to the rich naval heritage of the United States.

Floating Museum

Visitors to the USS Texas can explore its various decks and compartments, gaining a first hand experience of life aboard a battleship. The museum offers guided tours, allowing visitors to learn about the ship’s history and its crew. People also learn about its role in significant historical events. Exhibits and displays showcase the weaponry, equipment, and daily life on board the USS Texas, providing a glimpse into the past.

Preserving the USS Texas as a museum ship allows visitors to appreciate the immense size and power of these formidable warships and serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by the men and women who served on board. It stands as a testament to the advancements in naval technology and the pivotal role that battleships played in shaping the course of history.

The USS Texas seen here as a museum in 2012.

The USS Texas is a remarkable battleship with a distinguished history. Built in Newport News, Virginia, it was a formidable vessel with an impressive size and armament. Its crew, consisting of skilled sailors and marines, operated the ship and ensured its effectiveness in combat.

Read More: â€˜Vanished’ HMS Regent Found After 80 Years 

With its participation in World War I and World War II, the USS Texas proved its mettle in major battles and played a significant role in naval operations. Today, as a museum ship, it continues to educate and inspire visitors. It commemorates the legacy of this mighty battleship and honouring the service of those who served on board.

The USS Texas stands as a proud symbol of naval power and a testament to the technological advancements and sacrifices made in the pursuit of maritime dominance.