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The Only Surviving Battleship From Both World Wars Is Finally Getting Repairs



It faced off against the Germans — in both World War I and World War II — and against the Japanese in the Pacific theater. But now the USS Texas is in a fight for its life against its deadliest threat yet: old age

This week, the USS Texas (BB-35) was towed from its home as a floating museum at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in La Porte, Texas, to a shipyard in Galveston, Texas, about 30 miles away, where it will undergo $35 million in much-needed repairs to a leaky hull, among other things.

Distinguished Service

The USS Texas was launched from Virginia’s Norfolk Navy Yard in 1914 and saw its first action against Mexico later that year, when the U.S. seized control of the port city of Veracruz for six months in what became known as the Tampico incident.

In World War I, USS Texas fired the first American shots of the war when it fired upon a German U-boat while escorting a merchant ship in the Atlantic. For the rest of the war, the battleship sailed as convoy protection and on patrols in the North Sea, meeting the surrendering German fleet in late 1918.

In World War II, after having its weapons upgraded, USS Texas escorted supply ships taking part in the Lend-Lease program. In 1942, it took part in Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of North Africa, also helping launch the career of an onboard correspondent, Walter Cronkite. For D-Day, USS Texas provided fire support for the landings at Omaha Beach, then took part in the Battle of Cherbourg before moving to the Pacific. There, USS Texas played roles in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, among other engagements.

Museum Life

USS Texas was decommissioned in 1946. Two years later, it the state of Texas assumed control of the warship and turned it into a memorial and museum. In 2010, it sprang a leak that caused it to begin sinking, and its caretakers have had to constantly pump out hundreds of thousands of gallons of water to keep to afloat. For the last three years, it’s been closed to the public while it was readied for repairs.

The state legislature OKed the $35 million for repairs in 2019. After the repairs, the battleship may be moved to another, more popular spot elsewhere in Texas.

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