A while back, friend of the blog Aggiesprite went to visit the Battleship Texas Memorial, and kindly shared a few pics with us. I thought I’d posted them, but they got stuck in draft limbo somehow. I was reminded when our other friend of the blog Zekexas posted pics of his trip to BBTXM today. Zekexas is a pretty good photog, so go take a look.
At any event, since Aggie went to all the trouble of taking pics of the old grey gal for me, I should post them.
USS Texas, BB-35, was commissioned in 1914, and served in both World War I and World War II. She was decommissioned and stricken from the register in 1948.
She’s the only American example of a Dreadnought battleship remaining. At the time, the 27,000 ton New York class battleships were among the largest warships ever built. Mind you, today the Gerald R. Ford is under construction, and will weigh in around 100,000 tons. And huge numbers of merchant ships displace far, far more.
Still, her ten 14”/45cal guns, in five twin turrets, were quite powerful, and were put to good use fighting during the invasion of North Africa in 1942,and the Normandy landings of June 6, 1944. In 34 minutes of sustained fire, she placed 255 14” shells on the Pointe du Hoc emplacements thought to contain a battery of 155mm guns. The Rangers assault on Pointe du Hoc is one of the more famous events of that incredible day.
Texas would also engage in a duel with the shore batteries of Cherbourg*, the Dragoon invasion of Southern France, and the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Texas was an innovative ship. She was among the second generation of US Dreadnought battleships, shifting from 12” to 14” guns. She also was the first to implement modern fire controls such as rangefinders, directors and rangekeepers** She was the first US battleship to operate and airplane, and was a pioneer in the use of aircraft as spotters for gunfire, greatly improving accuracy at long ranges. She was also an early adopter of radar, mounting the Navy’s first operational air search set, the CXAM-1.
Almost immediately after the war, the state of Texas sought to turn their namesake into a museum. By 1948, she’d been pulled out of reserve, towed to Texas, laid up. But time has not been kind to the flagship of the Texas Navy. She languished in disrepair until by 1988, she was in great danger of sinking. Indeed, when she was under tow to a drydock, leaks were so bad she was almost unable to be docked. A two year refurbishment brought her back to a much better state, but her advanced age and riveted hull means she still suffers from significant leaks, making the battle to keep her open an ongoing and costly one. Currently Texas is trying to convert her to a permanent dry berth, which hopefully will be complete by 2017.
In the meantime, at 99-1/2 years old, she’s still proud to represent Texas.
*She was hit twice by 240mm shells, with 11 wounded, one later succumbing to his wounds.
**A rangekeeper was an early analog fire control computer used not just to plot the present location of a target, but to predict its future range and bearing to account for the time of flight of the ships guns projectiles.