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Battleship Texas: A Magnificent Floating Monument of Might

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Battleship Texas in the Houston Ship Channel is the last remaining ship having served in both World War I and II. Converted into a museum, it memorializes the important contributions made to America’s war successes, and the brave men that fought in some of the most significant naval battles of the 20th century while aboard. Now her biggest battle is time, fighting against age and rust.

Battleship Texas: A Magnificent Floating Monument of Might

Photo: Facebook/Texas State Library and Archives Commission

The USS Texas was commissioned by the US Navy on March 12, 1914, and at the time, she was considered the most powerful weapon in the world. It seems rather fitting then that she would be named “Texas.” In 1916, she became the first American battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers (early computers which increased firing accuracy). In WWI (by 1918), she joined the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet and laid a North Sea mine barrage in response to German High Seas Fleet maneuvers. The USS Texas also assisted in the prevention of enemy naval forces cutting off Allied supply lines. Later that same year, she escorted the German Naval Fleet to its surrender anchorage.

Battleship Texas: A Magnificent Floating Monument of Might

Photo: Facebook/Gary Wiggins

By WWII, the USS Texas became the flagship of the US Atlantic Fleet, and fate stepped in and spared the ship twice for close calls in 1941: once while on “Neutrality Patrol” and once while docked in Maine during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. During the war, she fired on Nazi defenses on D-Day in Normandy, and shortly thereafter, German coastal defense artillery hit the USS Texas twice. The first shell injured 12 men and caused one casualty, which was the only combat fatality ever to take place on the ship. The second shell hit the USS Texas but didn’t explode. The US Navy deactivated this second, “lucky shell,” and returned it to the USS Texas as a good luck charm. After her repairs were complete, the battleship fired on Nazi positions in Southern France before moving to the Pacific where she lent support to the landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After Japan’s surrender, she carried soldiers home who had been stationed across the Pacific, and when she completed this final mission, the state of Texas acquired her, where on April 21, 1948, Battleship Texas was decommissioned, and became the memorial ship that she is today.

Battleship Texas: A Magnificent Floating Monument of Might

Photo: Facebook/Paul Martin

Visitors to Battleship Texas can explore it on their own or on a guided tour, and the State Historic Site offers a number of tours and programs for tourists as well as students. In close proximity to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, those that venture aboard can bring a picnic lunch and make their way to tables and seating as well as grills and water faucets at this sister historic site. There’s also a picnic pavilion that overlooks Buffalo Bayou if you’re coordinating a group function, and Battleship Texas also allows the booking of group meetings in the ship’s conference room! It’s a great place to learn about the US Navy’s contributions to World Wars I and II, as well as the legend that is now such a magnificent floating monument to the men that fought on her decks.


Battleship Texas State Historic Site