U.S.S. Texas

Ship details:

Class: New York Battleship
Launched: May 18, 1912
At: Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia
Commissioned: March 12, 1914

Length: 573 feet
Beam: 106 feet
Normal Draft: 28 feet, 6 inches
Displacement: 34,000 tons
Speed: 21 knots
Crew: 1,810
Armament: (December 1944) Ten 14-inch/45 caliber guns; six 5-inch/51 caliber guns; ten 3-inch/50 caliber guns; ten 40mm quad-mounted guns; forty-four 20mm guns

San Jacinto State Historical Park
3523 Highway 134
La Porte, Texas 77571
(281) 479-2431
(for overnight encampments) (281) 542-0684
Fax: (281) 479-4197
Email: barry.ward@tpwd.state.tx.us


Texas is the last of the battleships, patterned after HMS Dreadnought, that participated in World War I and the Second World War. Considered the most powerful warship afloat because of her ten 14"/45 guns in five twin turrets, Texas was commissioned in March 1914 and proceeded almost immediately to Mexican waters where she joined the Special Service Squadron following the "Vera Cruz Incident".  She returned to Atlantic Fleet operations in the fall of 1914, after the Mexican crisis was resolved.  In 1916 Texas became the first U. S. battleship to mount anti-aircraft guns and the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, analog forerunners of todays computers.

After the U. S. entered World War I, she spent 1917 training gun crews for merchant ships that were often attacked by gunfire from surfaced submarines. Texas joined the 6th Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet early in 1918.  Operating out of Scapa Flow and the Firth of Forth, Texas protected forces laying a North Sea mine barrage, responded to German High Seas Fleet sorties, fired at submarine periscopes observed by multiple ships, and helped prevent enemy naval forces from interrupting the supply of allied forces in Europe. Late in 1918 she guarded the German Fleet enroute to its surrender anchorage and escorted President Wilson to peace talks in France.

In 1919 Texas became the first U. S. battleship to launch an aircraft and served as a plane guard and navigational reference for the first trans-Atlantic flight by the seaplane NC-4, after which she transferred to the Pacific Fleet.  In 1924 Texas returned to the Atlantic and sank the incomplete battleship Washington (BB 47) so the U. S. would be in compliance with the Naval Arms Limitation Treaty of 1922. From 1925 to 1927 Texas underwent modernization in Norfolk, transitioning from coal to oil fired boilers and receiving numerous other alterations. In 1927 Texas became the flagship of the U. S. Fleet and inaugurated the use of "talking" pictures for crew entertainment.  She embarked President Coolidge for a trip to Cuba in 1928.

Texas received the first commercial radar in the U. S. Navy in 1939. In 1940, Texas was designated flagship of U. S. Atlantic Fleet. The First Marine Division was founded aboard Texas early in 1941. That same year while on "Neutrality Patrol" in the Atlantic, Texas was stalked unsuccessfully by the German submarine U-203. Texas escorted Atlantic convoys against potential attacks by German warships after America entered World War II in December 1941. 

In 1942, Texas transmitted General Eisenhower's first "Voice of Freedom" broadcast, asking the French not to oppose allied landings on North Africa. The appeal went unheeded and Texas provided gunfire support for the amphibious assault on Morocco, putting Walter Cronkite ashore to begin his career as a war correspondent. 

After further convoy duty, Texas fired on Nazi defenses at Normandy on "D-Day", June 6, 1944. Shortly afterwards she was hit twice in a duel with German coastal defense artillery near Cherbourg, suffering 1 fatality and 13 wounded. Quickly repaired, she shelled Nazi positions in Southern France before transferring to the Pacific where she lent gunfire support and anti-aircraft fire to the landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

In 1948, Texas became the first battleship memorial museum in the U. S.   Texas was placed under the stewardship of Texas Parks & Wildlife Department in 1983. The ship underwent drydock overhaul in 1988-90 and began systematic restoration to her 1945 configuration in Measure 21 blue camouflage.

USS Texas is a National Historic Landmark. Texas's reciprocating marine steam engines are National Historic Engineering Landmarks.

Copyright (C) 1997, Historic Naval Ships Association.
All Rights Reserved.
Version 1.22, 28 May 01

Offshore radio station: Voice of America on 8th November 1942. 

For the purpose of broadcasting to the people in coastal areas of Morocco in North Africa, a 5 kW mediumwave transmitter was installed in the USS Texas and this was tuned to the frequency 601 kHz. It is presumed that some form of test broadcasts were radiated in advance to ensure that the transmitter would function correctly at the time of the coming invasion.

Historic documents tell us that the first broadcast from the Texas was made around 4:30 am on November 8, 1942. At the time, the Texas was stationed in the Mediterranean off the coast of Rabat in Morocco and the channel for this epic broadcast was the same as the mediumwave station ashore in Rabat.

On board the Texas were radio personnel from the Voice of America and the American OWI department. Programming for this first broadcast was in French and English and it consisted of recorded messages and off-air relays from shortwave stations located in the United States and England.

The recorded speeches were broadcast in the French language by President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower. The president's message was delivered by an American diplomat pretending to be the president, though General Eisenhower's message was delivered by the general himself.

The programming on the air from the Texas was presented in both French and English under the title, the Voice of Freedom and the broadcast frequency from the mediumwave transmitter was changed a couple of times in an attempt to escape jamming.

In the early afternoon, the battleship Texas was ordered to approach the shore and to fire at targets on the land. The first salvo from the Texas damaged its intended targets on the land, and it also instantly destroyed the mediumwave transmitter, due to the noise from the massive explosions and the jarring and shuddering caused by the recoil from the huge guns.

Thus, the first seabourne relay station, operated on behalf of the Voice of America, was on the air for no more than eight hours. It would seem that no QSLs were ever issued for these broadcasts, and the only people who heard this station were those who were in the area at the time. [Story by Dr. Adrian Peterson]

Location: International waters of the Mediterranean

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