Have You Heard the Amazing Story of the USS Texas?
Editor Note - The pictures used may not be of the USS Texas. The pictures used may be of close similarity.
The USS Texas was a United States Navy New York-class battleship. And was launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914.
The USS Texas saw action in Mexican waters following the "Tampico Incident" and made numerous trips to the North Sea during World War I. The USS Texas was the second Navy ship to be named after the state.
The USS Texas main battery consisted of ten 14-inch 45-caliber guns which could fire 1,400 pounds of armor-piercing shells to a range of 13 miles. The secondary battery consisted of 21 5-inch 51-caliber guns, and four 21-inch torpedo tubes.
World War 1
On April 19th 1917, the crew of Mongolia sighted a surfaced German U-Boat. The gun crew aboard Texas opened fire on the U-boat, averting an attack on Mongolia and firing the first American shots of World War I in the process.
Mid-January 1918 found the battleship back at New York preparing for the voyage across the Atlantic rejoining the 6th battle squadron of Britain's grand fleet. Texas's service with the Grand Fleet consisted entirely of convoy missions and occasional forays to reinforce the British squadron on blockade duty in the north sea whenever German heavy units threatened. The American and British ships saw relatively little combat for the rest of World War I. That lasted until the Armistice ended hostilities on November 11th 1918. And on November 21st 1918 joined Britain's Grand Fleet to the surrendering of the German Fleet.
World War 2
The USS Texas biggest battle was D-Day on 6 June 1944, Texas and the British cruiser Glasgow entered the Omaha Western fire support lane and arrived at her initial firing position 12,000 yards offshore near Pointe du Hoc at 04:41.
The initial bombardment commenced at 05:50, against the site of six 6-inch guns, atop Pointe du Hoc. When Texas ceased firing at the Pointe du Hoc at 06:24, 255 14-inch shells had been fired in 34 minutes with an average rate of fire of 7 and half shells per minute. This was determined to be the longest sustained period of firing for the USS Texas in World War II.
While shells from the main guns were hitting Pointe du Hoc, the 5-inch guns were firing on the area leading up to Exit D-1, the route to get inland from western Omaha.
At 06:26, Texas shifted her main battery gunfire to the western edge of Omaha Beach, around the town of Vierville. Meanwhile, her secondary battery went to work on another target on the western end of Omaha beach, a ravine laced with strong points to defend an exit road.
Later, under control of airborne spotters, she moved her major-caliber fire inland to interdict enemy reinforcement activities and to destroy batteries and other strong points farther inland. By noon, the assault on Omaha Beach was in danger of collapsing due to stronger than anticipated German resistance and the inability of the Allies to get needed armor and artillery units on the beach.
In an effort to help the infantry fighting to take Omaha, The USS Texas moved in 3,000 yards from the water's edge, firing her main guns with very little elevation to clear the western exit D-1, in front of Vierville. Among other things, she fired upon snipers and machine gun nests hidden just off the beach.
At the conclusion of that mission, the battleship attacked an enemy anti-aircraft battery located west of Vierville. After that, she retired to Plymouth to rearm, returning to the French coast on 11 June. From then until 15 June, she supported the army in its advance inland.
By 15 June, the troops had advanced to the edge of Texas's gun range; her last fire support mission was so far inland that to get the needed range. So the USS Texas proceeds to do what is likely 'the most "Texas" thing ever' and flooded the starboard with water to provide a lift of two degrees--which gave the guns enough elevation to complete the fire mission.
With combat operations beyond the range of her guns on 16 June, Texas left Normandy for England on 18 June. The USS Texas as played a role in Operation Torch, Operation Overlord, Battle of Cherbourg, and Operation Dragoon. The USS Texas also played a key role in Operation Detachment (Aka the Battle of Iwo Jima) where it spent three days pounding the Japanese defenses on Iwo Jima in preparation for the landing of Marine Corps. After the Marines stormed the beaches on February 19th 1945 The USS Texas switched to providing naval gunfire support for them. "On-call fire" in response to requests from Marine units continued through February 21st 1945.
Though the island of Iwo Jima was not declared to be captured until March 16th The USS Texas departed from the Iwo Jima on March 7th and after a resting and rearming period arrived near Okinawa on March 21st 1945. And began her pre landing bombardment on Okinawa in preparation for Operation Iceberg (Aka the battle of Okinawa). For the next six days the USS Texas Bombed Okinawa until the Army and Marines made their amphibious landing on April 1st 1945.
When the ground troops went ashore, and for almost two months, The USS Texas remained in Okinawan waters providing gunfire support for the troops and fending off the enemy aerial assault. On May14th the USS Texas departed Okinawa for the Philippines. On May 17th 1945 the USS Texas arrived in the Philippines and remained there until after the Japanese surrender on August 15th 1945.
The USS Texas Today
On 17 April 1947, the Battleship Texas Commission was established by the Texas Legislature to care for the ship. Texas sits just across from the monument at Battleground Park in the waters of the Port of Houston where she was ceremoniously decommissioned on April 21st 1948.
The USS Texas was the first permanent battleship memorial museum in the US. When the battleship was presented to the State of Texas, she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy.