Thursday, May 11, 2017

Battleship Texas Plus Give Away

Grand Old Lady 

by Martha Rogers

Texas lays claim to many firsts, bests, largest, and finest, but in one area, that claim is well deserved. On May 18, 1912, battleship Texas was launched. In March of 2014, she was commissioned by the United States Navy. She is now the oldest commissioned battleship still in existence.

During her stay in New York for installment of fire control equipment, President Theodore Roosevelt ordered several ships from the American Navy to sail to Mexican waters where USS Texas became involved in a skirmish known as the “Tampico Incident.” She returned to New York in December, 1914, after the battle to undergo repairs. She remained there until February, 1915.

In 1916, she made numerous sorties into the North Sea. She became the first battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns with the addition of two 3-inch (76mm)/50 caliber guns on platforms atop the boat cranes, and the first to control gunfire with directors and rangefinders, analog forerunners of today's computers.
This is how she looked in 1916 during those days of WW I. She also played a
role in the Armistice in November, 1918 when she accompanied the Grand Fleet (Great Britain’s navy) to meet the surrendering German Fleet.

After the war, she served as an escort to the ship carrying President Wilson to the Paris Peace Conference. She returned to New York with other warships on Christmas Day 1918.

Another first occurred in1919 when she became the first American battleship to launch an airplane. Lt. Commander E. O. McDonnell flew a British Sopwith Camel off her deck. She served as a plane guard and navigational aid for a successful attempt by Curtiss NC flying boat to become the first airplane to cross the Atlantic. Then in July 1919 she became a part of the Pacific Fleet where she spent the five or so years. Here she was designated BB-35 under the Navy’s new alpha-numeric hull classification symbols.

In 1927, she was outfitted with tripod masts which replaced the two large steel towers or lattice masts. She underwent numerous repairs and re-outfitting
overhauls in the post-war years. After the overhaul in 1927, she was designated the flagship of the United States Fleet and returned to duty in the Atlantic. In 1928, she escorted President Calvin Coolidge to Havana, Cuba for a Pan-American Conference.

This was followed by a brief tour of duty in the Pacific and then back to the Atlantic in 1931. In December 1938, Texas received for testing the first shipborne radar designed and made by a commercial company, RCA. She was included in fourteen ships in 1941 that received the RCA CXAM-1 radar.

In February, 1941, the US 1st Marine Division was activated on her deck and Admiral Ernest J. King hoisted his flag as Commander-in-Chief fo the re-formed Atlantic Fleet.

Then she became involved in WWII and was outfitted with heavier artillery. Her main duty was as convoy-escort in various areas and then and as an escort for both troop carrying transports and cargo ships to and from the United Kingdom with New York as her home port. She saw extensive service in those days. On one of those escort missions, a young Walter Cronkite was aboard and his experiences with the ship launched his career as a war correspondent.

The Battleship Texas was also involved in the invasion on D-Day, 1944. During the heat of the battle at Omaha, she was able to get to within 3000 yards of the water’s edge and fired her main guns. She fired upon snipers and machine gun nests hidden just off the beach and attacked an enemy anti-aircraft battery west of Vierville. After this, she was engaged in other battles, but returned to New York to undergo repairs.

From there she saw duty in the Pacific at Iwo Jimo and Okinawa. In September
of 1944, she set sail for the United States bound with troops in what was called, “Operation Magic Carpet.” She made two round trip voyages between Oahu and San Diego to bring troops home. In June of 1945, she was officially placed in reserve at Baltimore and inactivated.

On April 17, 1947, the Battleship Texas Commission was established by the Texas Legislature, in 1948 she began her journey home to Texas where she was commissioned as the flagship of the Texas Navy.

Today she sits near the San Jacinto Battleground monument and state park on the Houston Ship Channel. Needless to say she had to go through numerous
repairs through the years. She was the first permanent battleship memorial museum in the US. She was designated as a National Historic Landmark by the National Park Service in 1976.

When my boys were little, we took excursions to visit the ship. They loved being able to climb up on the artillery and pretend as well as climb between decks. Seeing the inside of a ship I’d seen in newsreels fascinated me as well. Even then the writer in me wanted to conjure up stories to go along with the sights we saw.

At the age of 103, she’s a grand old lady and is one of the oldest surviving naval warships. Other state named battleships have followed Texas’ footsteps to become floating museums.   

Have you ever visited a battleship or aircraft carrier or other Navy ship? 
Leave a comment and receive a copy of my latest novella, Always on My Mind which is part of a collection of novellas with Elvis Presley song titles. Be sure to put your email address in the comment so I can contact you if you win.

Cassie Miller receives a fellowship grant to study piano at a well-known Boston conservatory, where Marc Rossi monitors the program. When strange events cause both Cassie and Marc to appear unprofessional and irresponsible, they work together to find out who wants to sabotage their careers.  Cassie’s goal is a career in music, but attraction sizzles between her and Marc. Together can they discover who is responsible for the accidents and errors that nearly cost Cassie the fellowship and Marc his job and find love as well?

Martha Rogers is a free-lance writer and multi-published author. She was named Writer of the Year at the Texas Christian Writers Conference in 2009. She is a member of ACFW and writes the weekly Verse of the Week for the ACFW Loop. ACFW awarded her the Volunteer of the Year in 2014.  Martha is a frequent speaker for writing workshops and is the director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference. She is a retired teacher and lives in Houston with her husband, Rex. Their favorite pastime is spending time with their eleven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren. 


  1. Battleship Texas deserved to have a permanent historical site with all she had been through. This was a gem historical post. I've never been on a Naval ship but I did see one at San Diego years ago.

    Always on My Mind sounds like a fun read. Thank you for the giveaway.

    1. Battleship Texas is in real need of more repairs right now and places visitors may go mow are restricted. The sheer size of the ships even then boggles the mind. Thanks for posting, but I do need an email address.

  2. My dad was in the navy.I remember going aboard for a family meal. I visited my son's ship when he was stationed in Hawaii.

    1. What a neat experience with your father. How good that you were able to visit your son's ship.

  3. I have visited several battleships...Battleship Texas being one of them. They are amazing vessels. Thank you for sharing your very interesting post, Miss Martha!

    1. I forgot to leave my email address....mauback55 at gmail dot com

  4. My Daddy worked and retired from the Newport News Shipyard in Newport News VA. Very interesting to know he was helping work on the ships. Our family has visited various ships over the years. Amazing. ahenderson312(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. I love everything about the Navy and ships. It's great that you were able to visit other ships. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. Thank you for the very interesting post. I have never visited a naval ship. My dad served on merchant ships during WW2 and afterwards.
    susanmsj at msn dot com

    1. How wonderful to know your father served in such a capacity. Thanks for stopping by.

  6. I have visited the USS Alabama Battleship in Mobile, AL.
    Thank you for the post and giveaway.