By: Art Leatherwood

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: May 14, 2019

The keel of the second battleship to be named the USS Texas was laid at the Newport News Shipbuilding Company on April 17, 1911. The ship was christened on May 18, 1912. A motion-picture camera took what was thought to be the first motion pictures of a United States Navy ship-launching. The USS Texas was commissioned for service on March 12, 1914. It was 573 feet long with a beam of ninety-five feet, and it displaced 27,000 tons. It had two four-cylinder steam engines developing 28,100 horsepower, driving two three-blade propellers with diameters of nearly nineteen feet. The ship had fourteen coal-burning boilers and was designed for a speed of twenty-one knots in a four-hour speed trial and nineteen knots in a twenty-four-hour endurance trial. The USS Texas served in the Atlantic Fleet during World War I. It was used for tactical exercises until 1918, when it operated in the North Sea. The USS Texas was present at the surrender of the German Imperial Fleet in 1918, and was used to test a flying-off platform for planes in March 1919. In 1925 the ship was at the Norfolk Navy Yard to be refitted with oil-fired boilers and to have its superstructure updated. In 1927, after this modernization, it was the flagship for the commander in chief of the United States Fleet. The USS Texas was again involved in testing in 1938, when what later became known as radar was first being developed. In 1940 and 1941 the ship was assigned to escort duty in the North Atlantic, and in 1942 it supported the Allied landings in North Africa. On D-Day, June 6, 1944, the USS Texas was the flagship for the bombardment group supporting the Allied landings on Omaha Beach. On June 25, 1944, the ship received two direct hits from German shore guns: one to the armored conning tower, which killed the helmsman, and another to the main hull, which did not explode. After the damage was repaired, the USS Texas supported the landings in Southern France from August 14 to August 16, 1944. By February 1945 the battleship was in the Pacific and supported the landings at Iwo Jima, remaining offshore until March 7. On March 26 it supported the landings at Okinawa, and on May 17, 1945, returned to the Philippines. By mid-February 1946 the ship was back at the Norfolk shipyard for retirement and mothballing. On December 6, 1946, Texas governor Coke R. Stevenson accepted the USS Texas from the United States Navy to be used as a state shrine. In 1948, after more than thirty-four years of naval service, the USS Texas became the nation's first memorial battleship and a national historic landmark. The ship was permanently moored at the San Jacinto Monument off the Houston Ship Channel. In 1983 the ship became the responsibility of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. By 1988 it was badly rusted and in need of repair, and was subsequently towed to the Todd Shipyard in Galveston, where major restoration was begun. On July 26, 1990, the USS Texas was returned to the San Jacinto mooring, where it is maintained by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and is kept open for public tours (see BATTLESHIP TEXAS STATE HISTORIC SITE).

Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 1, 1959.

Time Periods:
  • World War II

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Art Leatherwood, “Texas,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 29, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/texas-QTT02.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

May 14, 2019