WWI veteran USS Texas battles for survival
By Patrick Gregory
via the centenarynews.com web site
A naval veteran of two world wars, the USS Texas is a battleship which has survived one or two scrapes in its time. But now, over a century on from its launch and after a long and distinguished second career as a floating museum and some-time film set, the ship is facing a fight for its survival. Its rusting hull is in urgent need of repair and campaigners are trying to persuade the State of Texas to step in to help save it from the scrapyard. Patrick Gregory has been looking at its history.
A hundred years ago, in early December 1917, the USS Texas found itself in the New York Naval Shipyard in Brooklyn. It had been there for two months following a serious mishap which had seen it run hard aground in Long Island Sound. The Texas' captain Victor Blue and his navigator had apparently been confused by shore lights and by the location of a channel through the minefield laid at the end of the sound.
Blue managed not only to avoid court martial for the incident but also to hold on to his command of the ship. Critics put down to his friendship with Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels. Either way, the damage occasioned was enough to set back the Texas' war service by some months; but eventually, in January 1918, the battleship sailed for British coastal waters to join up with the US force led by Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman.
Over the next year, operating as part of the 6th Battle Squadron, the battleship played its part in checking the manoeuvres of the German High Seas Fleet and was part of the US-led North Sea mine barrage effort to counter the threat of enemy U-boats.
Following the Armistice, USS Texas was one of the vessels to escort the German navy when it surrendered to the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands; and before returning to the United States, the Texas was also on hand to welcome Woodrow Wilson’s George Washington at Brest in France, ahead of the President’s visit to the post-war peace conference in Paris.
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