Last Remaining WWI-Era Dreadnought, USS Texas (BB-35), to Undergo $35 Million Repairs

Photo Credit: Patrick Feller / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0
Photo Credit: Patrick Feller / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

Some three years after it was closed to the public, the USS Texas (BB-35) has been transported from its home at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site to the Gulf Copper & Manufacturing Corp shipyard in Galveston. The last remaining dreadnought battleship is set to undergo $35 million repairs to its hull, after which it’ll be brought to a new home.

USS Texas (BB-35) at sea
USS Texas (BB-35), 1919. (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy / U.S. Government / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

In recent years, Texas has suffered from a leaky, rusty hull that’s forced workers to pump around 2,000 gallons of water from the ship every minute, to keep it from sinking. The damage, which is the result of the hull spending decades below the water, led the Texas state legislature to unanimously approve $35 million in repairs.

The decision was made to tow the 110-year-old battleship from its home at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, along the Houston Ship Channel to the shipyard in Galveston, where it’ll undergo the necessary repairs. The decision to move it now is “based on the optimal tides and currents at San Jacinto and Galveston to facilitate the safe movement of the ship,” officials with The Battleship Texas Foundation told The Houston Chronicle.

Texas was pulled down the waterway by four tugboats, in a journey that lasted around nine hours. Despite concerns the trip might lead the vessel to sink, she arrived in Galveston without any issues.

USS Texas (BB-35) at port
USS Texas (BB-35), 2005. (Photo Credit: Frank H. Brueckner / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

The USS Texas (BB-35) is a former New York-class battleship that’s known for being the last remaining dreadnought from the early 20th century. Operated by the US Navy, she first saw action following the Tampico Incident of April 1914, a confrontation between nine American sailors and approximately 10 infantrymen with the Mexican Federal Army.

Following the incident, US President Woodrow Wilson ordered Rear Adm. Frank F. Fletcher to land a force at Veracruz and seize the customs house there. Texas remained in Mexican waters for approximately two months in support of the onshore American troops.

During the First World War, the battleship conducted training operations off the Virginia Capes and along the coast of New England. During winter fleet tactical and gunnery drills, she was stationed in the West Indies.

When the United States entered the conflict in April 1917, Texas fired the first American shots while aiming at a German U-boat that had surfaced near the merchant vessel SS Magnolia. She eventually joined the Grand Fleet, with whom she conducted convoy missions. The dreadnought also reinforced the British squadron that was on blockade duty in the North Sea.

Overhead view of the guns on the deck of the USS Texas (BB-35)
Guns on the deck of the USS Texas (BB-35) battleship. (Photo Credit: Loop Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images)

During the interwar period, Texas underwent a major overhaul, which aided in her success during World War II. At the start of the conflict, she operated as part of the Neutrality Patrol, before being stationed at Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland. She later patrolled the waters near Iceland and conducted a number of convoy-escort missions.

The battleship’s first major combat operation was with Task Group 34.8, the Northern Attack Group for Operation Torch – the Allied invasion of North Africa. She later fired at German-held positions during the D-Day landings in June 1944 and supported Operation Dragoon, the Allied invasion of Provence.

Texas later moved to the Pacific, where she supported the American landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa, bombarding Japanese positions.

Crew of the USS Texas (BB-35) standing together on deck
Crew of the USS Texas (BB-35) battleship. (Photo Credit: Buyenlarge / Getty Images)

Following her decommissioning in 1948, Texas was stationed at the San Jacinto Battleground Historic Site, known for being the location for the decisive battle of the 1835-36 Texas Revolution. Along with being transformed into a museum ship, she was also used as a set for a handful of films, including Steven McQueen‘s The Sand Pebbles (1966).

The last time Texas underwent repairs was in 1988. Prior to her most recent transfer to Galveston, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department secured thousands of onboard artifacts and removed a large exhibit.

Aerial view of the USS Texas (BB-35) at sea
USS Texas (BB-35), 1943. (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy / National Archives / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

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Aside from the aforementioned work on the hull, Texas will also undergo other fixes, which The Battleship Texas Foundation will pay for itself. The entire process is expected to take two years, after which the vessel will be moved to a new home within the state, either in Galveston, Beaumont or Baytown.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

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