U.S.S. TEXAS - BB35

 

Then & Now

 

 

 

The sailors and officers that serve on the ship are what brought it to life and made it an effective fighting machine.  Without them, it is an inert and cold object that gives little feel of the power and vitality that it once contained.  This is difficult to appreciate when viewing photos or visiting the ship.  The following  pictures pair historic images with current views of the same compartments in an attempt to visually connect the ship with her past crew and give it some life.

Many thanks to Barry Ward and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for access to Battleship Texas archives of historic photos, and to Chuck Moore for providing all of the scan work.  For highly detailed and accurate technical information, visit Chuck's website on Battleship Texas at:  http://users3.ev1.net/~cfmoore/

 

Click on the thumbnails to view the photos.

 

 

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"A Sailor's Prayer"

There is no "After" for this photo.  However, click on the image and read the poem written on it.  It is both humorous and gives remarkable insight into the life of a sailor on any ship.  This is a large file, so please be patient with the download.

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Ramming powder bags

Ammunition handling systems saw very few upgrades throughout the life of the ship.  Therefore, moving projectiles and powder bags on Texas was far more labor intensive than on newer ships.  In a similar turret on U.S.S. Arkansas, two crew in the photo are pushing a bag into the breech while three others stay out of the way.

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Manning the Breech

Guns on newer ships had vertically hinged, power operated breech blocks.  Those on Texas' 14" guns were horizontally hinged,  and opened and closed by hand.  The left hand photo shows Hans Kittel manning the breech.  The photo is courtesy of his family and the Battleship Texas archive.

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Resting in lower handling room

Crew could not leave their posts and in many cases, were sealing within the compartments when at general quarters.  The photo shows sailors on U.S.S. New York in a lower ammunition handling room getting some sleep.  One crewmember is lying on a tray immediately behind the powder hoist.

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The machine shop

The machine shop on Texas, like other battleships, was extremely well equipped and could fabricate practically anything that did not require the resources of a shipyard.  It was also typical for them to supply support for smaller ships in the fleet.

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On duty in the engine room. 

Texas, New York and Nevada were the only battleships in the fleet with reciprocating engines.  It took years of experience to master their operation and it was typical that a chief could stay with the same ship as long as he wished.

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Main radio station

Radio 1 was well manned by crew who transmitted and received Morse code.  The photo shows them at their stations where they keyed outgoing messages and typed incoming.  Encrypted messages were sent to the adjoining code room.

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Main transmitter room

A crew member services one of the many large transmitters in the main transmitter room.  The same piece of equipment is 60 years older and only a little worse for wear in the right photo.

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Serving the 40mm Bofors cannon

It took a lot of sailors to man a quad 40mm mount.  Besides the likelihood of being shot at, the high rate of fire and constant moving made it both difficult and a dangerous position to man.  The lack of helmets on the crew and the casual attitude of people in the background clearly indicates that the photo was posed.

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Electrical Distribution Room

The basic equipment in the two electrical distribution rooms remained largely unchanged from the time the ship was launched.  While it was functional and reliable, the open conductors and switches made it a very hazardous place to work, especially when the ship pitched and rolled in heavy seas.  It is hoped that the sailor bare from the waste up did not become a safety poster boy.

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The barber

Hair grows and sailors are supposed to keep theirs short.  Therefore, a barbershop is a permanent fixture on the ship.  However, there was competition from enterprising individuals that looked for extra income from their mates.

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The bakery

Bread was a major staple and a significant part of the crew's diet.  The bakery was well equipped and was capable of producing vast quantities of the stuff.

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The dentist

The dentist was part of a large medical staff on board the ship capable of any level of service, including major surgery.  This was shared by smaller ships in the fleet and was an important resource in treating seriously wounded soldiers during the Normandy invasion.

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The gedunk station

Ice cream, sodas and other treats could be had at the "gedunk" station.  It was obviously a very popular location for crew that were off duty.

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Enlisted galley

Three meals for over 1,000 men were prepared here every day.  The galley was located on the main deck and three sides of it could be opened to provide ventilation.  Prepared food was lowered by dumb waiter (small elevator) to a serving location on the second deck.  Many crew members were served there and others had their food brought to them in large containers in other parts of the ship.

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Scullery

Needless to say, feeding a thousand men three times a day produced a lot of dirty dishes.  The ship's scullery was well equipped with a large commercial dishwasher that could provide a continuous supply of clean plates, glasses and cutlery.