Thursday, August 1, 2013

Battleship Texas

Commander Kelly
USS Texas
Photo Courtesy: Jim Hooper
When she was commissioned in 1914 the USS Texas ( was the most powerful ship in the world.  She is now the only surviving dreadnought battleship left in the world.  The USS Texas fought in both World Wars.  She performed anti-submarine escort duty in the first World War.  She provided shore bombardment from her big 14 inch guns in support of Operation Torch (North Africa), at Normandy on D-day and on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  This ship would later serve as the flagship for Admiral Chester Nimitz, a Texas native, in the Pacific.

Dreadnought Race
The original HMS Dreadnought had been commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1906.  There was a naval arms race going on at the time with the Kaiser's fleet trying desperately to build more ships to catch up with the British.  The only major battle between dreadnoughts took place at Jutland in 1916 which was a tactical draw (14 British ships lost to 11 German), but a strategic defeat for the German fleet which never sallied forth from port again for the war's duration.  Henry Allingham of London, the last survivor of the battle of Jutland, died in 2009 at age 113!

FDR, when he was the assistant Secretary of the Navy said, "The policy of our Congress ought to be to buy and build dreadnoughts until our Navy is comparable to any other in the world."  Source: The Admrials, Walter Borneman, 2012.

Play Ball!
On my recent visit to the USS Texas I noticed a poignant reminder of America's love for our national pastime.  I spotted a photograph of a baseball game from April 15 1936 that featured the crews of the USS Texas vs the USS Arizona  (see my earlier post...

Punch anyone...?
The US military was a segregated service in World War II, but it is important to remember that ALL races served.  Filipinos, for example, served as stewards aboard the USS Texas and throughout the US Navy.  José M. Cabanillas, born in Puerto Rico, was the XO (#2 in command) on the USS Texas for most of the Second World war; he later went on to become a Rear Admiral.

USS Texas, LaPorte, TX
The USS Texas is bigger than the HMS Belfast Battlecruiser that can be found in London (see earlier post though, unhappily, not in quite such pristine condition -- her decks look a bit ragged and weather beaten.

Barbershop, USS Texas
A visitor can explore below decks and see where the 1,800 crew members lived and worked.  The USS Texas is now a Texas State park ( The ship is moored in LaPorte Texas about 25 miles from Houston near the San Jacinto monument.

Special thanks to Houstonian Jim Hooper for guiding me on board the ship.

1 comment:

Ken Moller said...


Interestingly, the USS Zumwalt DDG 1000, now on the building ways at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, has a hull configuration similar to the USS Texas. Specifically, the bow is longer under water than above water, and there is considerable tumblehome. The design, coupled with the encapsulation of all the above deck elements in a composite sheath, will make the ship less visible to radar and infrared.