America's Oldest Remaining Battleship Just Sailed Again
In the "something you don't see every day" department, a Great War-vintage battlewagon left its longstanding dock on Wednesday.
The retired battleship USS Texas (BB-35) was ordered under the administration of William Howard Taft at a cost of $5 million and her keel was laid in 1911, making the warship some 111 years old these days. At 573 feet long and displacing over 27,000 tons-- largely due to the ship's protective steel armor which that ran up to 12 inches thick in places-- she was one of the most formidable vessels afloat at the time.
Her main armament consisted of 10 mighty 14-inch guns each capable of firing 1,400-pound shells at targets over 13 miles away.
Commissioned in 1914, USS Texas sailed to Europe in 1918 after America entered World War I for service with the Grand Fleet against the Germans.
Modernized in the 1930s, the aging dreadnought, with her guns still very capable, was ready to clock in after the U.S. entered WWII following Pearl Harbor. And Texas did great work, plastering enemy positions on Omaha Beach on D-Day, fighting artillery duels with the dreaded German coastal guns of "Battery Hamburg" emplaced at occupied Cherbourg, and then supporting the Allied landings along the French Mediterranean coast.
Her work done in Europe, Texas sailed to the Pacific in 1945 and went on to lend her guns to suppressing Japanese targets at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Retired in 1947, obsolete in the Atomic Era, the then-33-year-old warship was saved from a trip to the scrappers by the Battleship Texas Commission and was moved to a specially dug anchorage near the San Jacinto State Park outside of Houston where she has been a museum ship for the past 75 years.
However, with the effects of time and water working against her riveted steel hull and decks, and some 32 years passing since her hull was last in drydock for inevitable repairs, USS Texas is in bad shape, having been closed to the public on several occasions after developing a noticeable list as she took on water, requiring emergency repairs.
The solution: a move to nearby Galveston where the "Mighty T" will undergo a $35 million repair program with her century-old hull safely lifted in a dry dock
Early Wednesday morning, USS Texas was pulled out of her longstanding home off the Houston Shipping Channel and, with the aid of four tugboats and under the watchful eye of the Coast Guard, completed a stately 10-hour cruise to Gulf Copper in Galveston where she entered the dry dock safely. America's oldest (and only) sea-going battleship!
"The 110-year-old USS Texas is the last remaining battleship to have fought in both WWI and WWII, and our crews are dedicated to making sure it has a safe journey," noted the Eighth Coast Guard District.
Video of the 10-hour move via the Battleship Texas Foundation: