Photo History and Tour

                                                                                                Complete Site Update 6/30/03, 1st Rev. 7/08/03

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The Last Of The  Dreadnoughts


"Fear God and dread nought."  The first great arms race of the twentieth century began when the British commissioned HMS Dreadnought in 1906.  Her all big gun concept and extensive use of armor made this battleship the most powerful war machine on earth, and all nations with global aspirations began building "Dreadnoughts" using the same design principals.  The United States was a full participant and in 1914 raised the bar by commissioning the Super Dreadnought, Battleship Texas.  For a brief period she and her sister ship, New York, were masters of the oceans with their ten 14" guns, the largest ever placed on a ship at that time.




The rapid advance of technology spurred by World War I made Texas obsolete in only a few years, and she would have been a likely candidate for the breakers if not for the Washington Naval Arms Limitation Treaty of 1922.  Due its limits on new construction, the only way to obey the treaty and stay in the battleship race was to rebuild and improve existing hulls.  Therefore, Texas was brought back to the yard and modernized with more armor, oil-fired boilers, torpedo blisters and a new superstructure.  The result was the basis for her current appearance, which is far different from the way she looked in 1914.


By the beginning of World War II, there were a number of newer battleships in service that had larger guns, thicker armor and faster legs than Texas.  While this meant that the ship was hopelessly outclassed in a sea superiority role, her 14" guns were still very effective for landing support and she was put to good use in North Africa.  Later in the war, D-Day planners considered it likely that enemy fire would result in the loss of at least one battleship at Normandy.  Since they were considered expendable, Texas, Arkansas and Nevada were committed for use in support of the landings.  In spite of their age and limitations, their 12"and 14" guns proved formidable and the battle-wagons effectively neutralized defenses on and behind the beachheads.  Three weeks later at Cherbourg, the old ship and her crew proved their tenacity and skill during an intense, protracted artillery duel with shore batteries.  Even though they dodged more than 60 bracketing shots, an enemy shell found its mark and wrecked the bridge.  While it did not greatly affect the ship's ability to fight, it did result in the ship's only crew fatality in action.   In the twilight of her active career, Texas' anti-aircraft capabilities were further upgraded and she filled air defense and shore bombardment roles during the last months of the Pacific war.  Her final duty was to bring American soldiers and Marines home in Operation Magic Carpet.


Texas earned five battle stars and, with only one fatality in action during her active career,  was considered a lucky ship by her crews.  But perhaps her greatest luck was her escape from post war atomic tests, gunnery practices and breakers that took all other Dreadnought and Super Dreadnought ships.  The result is that Texas is the sole survivor of the great Dreadnought era and the last remaining example of ultimate power in the early years of the last century.  Battleship Texas is truly a touchstone to the past.

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