Commissioned in 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world, the Battleship TEXAS is credited with the introduction and innovation of advances in gunnery, aviation, and radar. She is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.
Battleship Texas was the first of two New York-class battleships authorized on June 24 1910. Bids for Texas were accepted from September 27 to December 1 with the winning bid of $5,830,000 excluding the price of armor and armament submitted by Newport News Shipbuilding Company. The contract was signed on December 17 and the plans were delivered to the building yard seven days later.
Battleship Texas was launched on May 18th, 1912, sponsored by Miss Claudia Lyon, daughter of Colonel Cecil Lyon, Republican national committeeman from Texas.
Battleship Texas was commissioned on March 12th, 1914 with Captain Albert W. Grant in command. Her main battery consisted of ten 14 inch/45 cal guns, which could fire 1,400 lb armor-piercing shells to a range of 13 mi. These guns were the largest of any ship afloat at the time, making her the most powerful weapon in the world.
World War I Entry
Gun crews from Battleship Texas gave the German Navy their first taste of American steel. Sailors from the 5"/51 caliber secondary battery on Battleship Texas were reassigned to the 6" gun battery on the troop transport USS Mongolia in the early days of World War I. These men were proud of their former ship - rightly so - and named one of their new guns "TEXAS". On April 19, the crew of Mongolia sighted a surfaced German U-boat and opened fire on the U-boat, averting an attack on Mongolia and firing the first American shots of World War I.
World War I SERVICE
Battleship Texas crossed the Atlantic to join the American Squadron of the Grand Fleet in early 1918. She arrived in Scapa Flow, Scotland on February 11th, then spent the next nine months reinforcing the British blockade of Germany. Her last duties of the war came on November 21st - 10 days after the Armistice - helping to escort the surrendered High Seas Fleet to Scapa Flow for internment.
Battleship Texas was heavily modernized between 1925 and 1927 at Norfolk Navy Yard. Her fourteen original coal fired boilers were replaced with six oil fired boilers, her cage masts - now considered distinctive of the early 20th century - were removed and replaced with sturdier tripod masts, an aircraft catapult was installed on the midship turret (turret #3), thin walled tanks called torpedo blisters were added to the ship's hull, and a myriad of other changes created much of the Battleship Texas you see today. After this modernization, Battleship Texas became the flagship of the entire US Fleet for the next four years.
On December 7th, 1941, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan. Battle Texas was in Casco Bay, Maine at that time, preparing to go on another Neutrality Patrol in the North Atlantic, watching for German U-boats. She left for her first wartime patrol shortly after, escorting a convoy of merchant ships to Iceland, now more alert than ever. She continued convoy duty throughout the Spring and Summer of 1942, before joining the forces assembled for Operation Torch. She fought at the Battle of Port Lyautey as flagship to Rear Admiral Monroe Kelly from November 8th to 11th, 1942. There she hosted a young war correspondent with a bright future named Walter Cronkite.
After returning to Convoy Duty for most of 1943, Battleship Texas and her crew spent the Spring of 1944 preparing for a major operation. On May 29th, 1944 the crew found out what they had been working so hard for - they would be a part of the "Great Crusade" to liberate France. Battleship Texas served as flagship of the Omaha Beach area for Rear Admiral Carlton Bryant during the Invasion of Normandy, better known for its first day "D-Day". Her first task that day was to support the landings of the Army Rangers at Pointe du Hoc, where she fired 255 fourteen inch shells over just 34 minutes, the most intense period of sustained fire in her entire career.
Omaha Beach D-day
In 1988, Battleship Texas was pulled from her berth to Todd Shipyard in Galveston, Texas.
In 2014 we celebrated the ships 100th birthday with a Centennial Family Festival featuring a ceremony honoring the surviving crew men of the ship and a concert headlined by Robert Earl Keen's "A Texas Uprising."
Battleship Texas: 100 Years, narrated by Lyle Lovett