A Bright Future for Battleship Texas
We are delighted to witness the strides taken in the restoration journey of the USS Texas, a significant piece of maritime history. The recent acceptance of negotiation terms and lease agreements by the City of Galveston and the Port of Galveston Board of Trustees marks a pivotal moment in the ongoing efforts to rejuvenate this iconic vessel.
Before we dive into the progress being made, let’s dive into the history of this iconic battleship:
USS Texas (BB-35), a former United States Navy New York-class battleship, stands today as a museum ship with a rich history. She was launched on 18 May 1912 and commissioned on 12 March 1914. In May, she steamed to Vera Cruz to support the occupation of that Mexican city. Regular operations with the Atlantic Fleet began in mid-year and continued to January 1918. The battleship then crossed the ocean to join the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where she remained to the end the First World War. Texas returned to the United States in late December 1918 and again took up her duties with the Atlantic Fleet.
Transitioning into World War II, Texas took on the crucial task of escorting war convoys across the Atlantic. It later participated in significant operations, including shelling Vichy French forces in the North African Landings and German-held beaches during the Normandy Landings. In a strategic move, the battleship was transferred to the Pacific Theater in late 1944, contributing vital naval gunfire support during the pivotal Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Remarkably, Texas holds the distinction of being the sole Allied battleship involved in all four of these amphibious landings. After a commendable service, Texas was decommissioned in 1948, earning a total of five battle stars for its contributions during World War II.
The USS Texas reveals was a technological pioneer. It was the first U.S. battleship to feature anti-aircraft guns, control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, launch an aircraft, and be equipped with 14-inch guns. Notably, Texas made history as the first U.S. battleship to transition into a permanent museum ship, gaining recognition as a U.S. National Historic Landmark in 1976. This World War I era dreadnought battleship stands as the sole survivor of its kind and holds the distinction of serving in both World Wars.
Currently owned by the people of Texas and officially under the jurisdiction of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, the USS Texas has been entrusted to the Battleship Texas Foundation for day-to-day operations and maintenance since August 2020. In a significant move in August 2022, the ship was relocated to a dry dock in Galveston, Texas, marking the beginning of a substantial $35 million repair project. As of August 2023, efforts to restore and preserve this historic vessel are ongoing.
Tony Gregory, President and CEO of the Battleship Texas Foundation, shared his optimism about the progress, stating, “We envision a promising future for the USS Texas, one where the legacy of its valiant crew is preserved, and educational initiatives flourish for years to come.”
Collaborative discussions with Landry’s aim to enrich the USS Texas experience. The integration of Landry’s operational expertise with the Pier 21 development promises to elevate the historical significance of the Battleship and transform it into an exceptional museum, attracting visitors from far and wide.
Matthew Pham, Vice President of Development, expresses the museum’s anticipation, saying, “We eagerly look forward to relocating the USS Texas to Pier 21 and reopening as a premier maritime museum, paying homage to our veterans and the storied history of this remarkable vessel.”
The ongoing campaign has reached an impressive 80% completion. The focus now shifts to the second phase, aptly named “Bring Her Home!” This $15 million phase will transform the USS Texas into a state-of-the-art visitor experience.
Envisioned enhancements include the restoration of 60 unique spaces featuring interactive exhibits with cutting edge displays. The USS Texas will be climate-controlled for year-round access, offering an enriched visitor experience with expanded amenities.
To learn more visit battleshiptexas.org.
As we eagerly watch the USS Texas sail into a new era, we celebrate the collaborative efforts that are ensuring that this maritime treasure will not only be restored but will shine as a beacon of maritime history.