A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas
A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas

A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas

Robert Ranstadler - July 18, 2017

A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas
USS Texas silhouetted against the sunset, while participating in North Atlantic convoy operations (c. 1941). National Archives

Fair Winds and Following Seas

During mid-May of 1945, the Texas arrived in the Philippines where she resupplied and awaited further orders. The Empire of Japan capitulated to the United States on August 15, whereupon the USS Texas returned to Okinawa. From there, she led the charge in Operation Magic Carpet, a massive endeavor to return over eight million deployed troops back to the United States. After several trips across the Pacific, the Texas departed San Pedro, California for Virginia. She arrived in Norfolk on February 13, 1946, prepared for deactivation, and was officially retired from active service on June 18, 1946.

Over the course of her long and distinguished career the Texas took part in dozens of battles. She was awarded five battle stars for meritorious and gallant service. On April 17, 1947, exactly 36 years after workers initially laid down the Texas’s keel in Newport News, Virginia, the Texas State Legislature established the Battleship Texas Commission. This group funded and oversaw the USS Texas’s journey from Baltimore, Maryland to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, where she sits today.

A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas
Pearl Harbor ceremony aboard the USS Texas. Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

On April 21, 1948, the USS Texas was decommissioned, becoming the first permanent U.S. battleship memorial museum in the country. April 21 bears significant historical value for Texans, as it marks the 1836 Battle of San Jacinto, which ended the Texas War of Independence, establishing the Republic of Texas. Almost thirty years after being decommissioned, the USS Texas also became the first U.S. battleship to be designated a National Historic Mechanical Engineering Landmark, by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (1975), and a National Historic Landmark, by the National Park Service (1976).

A Veteran of Two World Wars: 7 Fascinating Facts about the USS Texas
USS Texas dry-docked in Galveston, Texas, 1988. Flickr

SOS (Save Our Ship)!

Sadly, the USS Texas continues to fight even in retirement. Constructed of iron, wood, and steel, the hundred-year-old ship constantly struggles against the march of time. During the early 1970s, newspapers reported that the Texas was literally rusting away underneath the feet of visiting patrons. A massive 1988-90 drydock project help to reconstitute and preserve the USS Texas, but the “Mighty T” again finds herself in troubled waters. Rampant leaks and crippling rust continue to threaten the integrity of the ship. The Battleship Texas Foundation estimates that approximately 300 tons of water are pumped off the Texas every single day.

Experts recently concluded that the only lasting solution to the problem is the permanent dry-berthing of the Texas, which would eliminate the threats of leaks and prevent any potential environmental damage to the surrounding ecosystem. Unfortunately, such an undertaking is projected to cost over $50 million, significantly more than what would be required to scrap the ship. Those interested in preserving the tremendous legacy of the USS Texas may get involved by contacting the following offices and organizations:

The Battleship Texas Foundation

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department

Office of the Texas Governor, Greg Abbott

The Texas State Legislature

The Houston Chronicle

Neptune Research, Inc.

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