With meetings over and the first free time in two weeks, Diplomonkey uses his downtime to visit a gran dame of Texas. So he heads out to La Porte (on the Houston Ship Channel) with his Nikon D-70 in hand to visit the USS Texas State Historic Site, home to the last of the great dreadnoughts still afloat.
A bygone era’s impressive centenarian (the USS Texas’ keel was laid down in 1911 and commissioned in 1914), this gray behemoth of steel saw action in Mexican waters in the wake of the Tampico Incident. The USS Texas, fondly nicknamed “Old T,” also made numerous sorties into the North Sea during the Great War (that’s World War I).
During World War II, she escorted war convoys across the Atlantic and shelled Axis-held beaches during the North African campaign and the Normandy Landings. In the Pacific theater, Old T provided naval gunfire support during the Battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
With the war won and the Axis threat eliminated, the USS Texas despite decommissioning (1948) avoids the scrap yard. The Navy opts instead to transfer Old T to Texas on April 21, date of the decisive 1836 Battle of San Jacinto that ended the War for Texas independence; leading to the Republic of Texas’ creation.
The USS Texas serves today as the first battleship memorial in the United States, as well as is the commissioned flagship of the Texas Navy.
So next time you are in Houston take a drive out to the San Jacinto battlegrounds, there you will find the USS Texas. Most of Old T is readily accessible, they even have special hard hat and flashlight tours for the off limit areas. A truly unique vessel, a great place to take the kids to get them interested in all things navy. Consider also making a donation for her upkeep.