Built 100 years ago, the battleship was one of the few that served in both world wars, shepherding soldiers across the Atlantic over multiple decades. It is the last surviving Dreadnought ship, categorized by its speed and sheer fire-power. In the span of a quarter century, it touched the waters of the North Sea and assisted with the landing at Omaha Beach.
Constructed as a steam engine ship with additional coal-fired engines, the ship was refitted with oil-fueled boilers in 1925, allowing its continued commission in the U.S. Navy.
During the Great War, it operated in the North Sea but saw little action other than a few minelaying missions. Despite that, it was present at the surrender of the German fleet over a year before the signing of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the First World War.
Between conflicts, the ship operated as a touring vessel for Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge to various destinations abroad.
Once war broke out again in Europe, the ship was among those raising a firewall along the Atlantic to prevent the conflict from reaching this hemisphere. But the events of December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor altered the battleship’s course from peacetime back into warfare.
But its crowning achievement came on June 6, 1944, when it assisted the Allied invasion of Normandy, providing covering fire for the amphibious landing at Omaha Beach — the bloodiest and most notorious landing spot in the operation.
Without it and other destroyers’ covering fire, Omaha Beach may well have become a memorial of failure on top of a massive gravesite to those American and Allied forces who eventually took the beach.
The U.S.S. Texas was also present at arguably the two other most famous amphibious landings during the war: Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The ship sustained numerous hits and substantial damage throughout its wartime efforts, but was still able to shepherd American soldiers back across the Atlantic as part of Operation Magic Carpet.
Once stateside, the ship was retired and the Texas Legislature established the Battleship Texas Commission to care for the aged dreadnought. The ship was towed from Baltimore to the Houston Ship Channel in 1948 — reaching its place of rest, next to the San Jacinto monument, to function as a floating museum.
U.S.S. Texas has been repaired multiple times to fix its leaks and was towed to Galveston for another, more extensive set of repairs this week. It made dry dock in Galveston on Wednesday for repairs that are expected to take a year.
Learn more about Battleship Texas here.
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Brad Johnson is a senior reporter for The Texan and an Ohio native who graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 2017. He is an avid sports fan who most enjoys watching his favorite teams continue their title drought throughout his cognizant lifetime. In his free time, you may find Brad quoting Monty Python productions and trying to calculate the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow.