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Home > Features > Texas Stories > Battleship Texas Dreadnaught

Battleship Texas Is the Last Remaining Dreadnaught
 
By Greg Fieg

In 1908, President Theordore Roosevelt was persuading Congress that the new U.S. Republic, emerging from its cocoon of provincial self-interest and Western isolation, would soon be compelled to take center stage in a world of rising global tension. In a demonstration of the nation's capability to project its strength, Roosevelt dispatched 16 state-of-the-art dreadnaught class battleships known as "The Great White Fleet" to circumnavigate the globe. It was history's first such sea maneuver and a colossal flexing of new-found American muscle.

Today, every last dreadnaught has been cut up in the scrapyards or lies at the bottom of the sea, except one: the USS Texas moored at Battleship Texas State Historic Site at La Porte, near Houston. The Texas was once the flagship of the American Navy and the largest U.S. battleship afloat.

Though today moored as a peacetime static display, the originally coal-fired vessel still bristles with its 80 guns, including 10 huge batteries of 14-inchers mounted on five twin turrets. Begun in 1911, the ship's construction was complete in 1914 in time for its first engagement at the Incident of Vera Cruz, and it went on to serve in key engagements of both world wars, including D-Day off the coast of Normandy in 1944.

battleship texas

The ship and its crew of 1,810 was then assigned to the Pacific, where it was included in the greatest armada in history. At Okinawa, the Texas was pitted against the Japanese battleship Yamato, largest in the world, which was sunk. Twelve thousand U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers and flyers were killed or missing and 38,000 wounded, including 48 percent psychiatric casualties due to battle stress, during the two-week encounter. The Japanese lost more than 100,000 combatants plus 100,000 civilians, many of whom committed suicide rather than surrender.

The ship is on view throughout the year at the state historic site.

Battleship Texas State Historic Site
3523 Highway 134
LaPorte TX 77571
281-479-2431
Web site

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