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Visit to The Battleship Texas


Battleship Texas at her berth in LaPorte, TX

Recently, I was driving through Texas on my way to San Antonio and I realized that I was not far from the Battleship Texas State Historic Park.  A few taps on the GPS and I was soon headed south towards LaPorte.  In case you did not know, this battleship is the last of the WWI era Dreadnought class ships.  Built by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Virginia, Battleship Texas (BB-35) was launched in 1912 and commissioned in 1914.  She not only served in WW I but also in WW II including the landing at Normandy and the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  In 1948, she was retired and began the process of becoming a museum.  The Texas Wildlife and Parks Department now manages her along with monetary support from the Texas Battleship Foundation. 

When I first arrived at the site, it was easy to tell I was at the right place.  BB-35 loomed large at her berth next to the visitor center.  It was a weekday so there were not many visitors around.  After paying a reasonable fee, I was excited to find out that I was able to go aboard and roam around the ship as I pleased, and roam around I did! 



Looking over the big guns from the bridge.

On the main deck, I was happy to discover that several of the anti-aircraft guns still had working mechanical systems that allow you to sit in the gunner’s seat and move the gun around by rotating or turning the controls.  Up on the bridge, you could see the commanding view that the ship provided for the officers and crew at the helm as you looked down upon the large 14 inch guns.  


Main gun deck.


The mechanicals on some of the deck guns are still operational.

The Helm



Below decks, you get a good sense of what it was like to live on a real battleship of that time.  Space was at a premium and you could tell that it was not wasted.  In many areas, bunk rooms doubled as mess halls and many of the sailors slept in the same rooms in which they worked.  Passing from the general crew’s quarters and work spaces to the officers' area also served as a stark reminder of the concept of rank and how important it is in a military organization. 


Laundry Room

Gathering and eating area for crew.  As you can see by the hanging bunks, this also served as a sleeping area.

Trophy and china cabinet in the officers dining area.

I did manage to work my way all the way down the engine room, which is not an easy task for someone of my height but it was well worth it.  The imagery and atmosphere brought vivid thoughts to my mind as I wondered about what it must have been like to work in the engine room of a battleship at war.  While this ship made it back home, I pondered on what the final moments must have been like for those who served down in the bowels of the ships that did not make it back.  

Gauges in the main engine room showing the name of the shipyard.

Main engine room.

While the Texas did make it back safely and is now retired, she now fights another battle, the one against rust and decay.  The Texas Battleship Foundation works to raise funds to keep her afloat and in condition suitable enough to continue to serve as a historic museum but as you can imagine, it takes a lot of money.  If you want to find out more about their efforts, you can by visiting their website at https://battleshiptexas.org/.

When all was said and done, what I thought would be a self-guided tour of about an hour ended up being about 2 ½ hours.  I honestly could have spent more time there but I realized that I was now running late to be at my destination.  Still, I was happy to have found this historical treasure and highly recommend checking it out if you are ever in the Houston/Galveston area.

To find out more info on the Battleship Texas, you can visit the Battleship Texas State Historic Site website at https://tpwd.texas.gov/state-parks/battleship-texas

Happy Boating

Captain Frank
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Comments

  1. Yes, the corrosive effect of salt water is taking it's toll on this grand ole lady. They are having difficulty in staying ahead of the damage and infiltrating water. A couple other very interesting ships are in the Galveston area. They have run permanently aground.

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  2. Thanks John. Looks like I need to loop back through there so I can check out these other ships as well.

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  3. HOOYAH!!!!! GO NAVY

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  4. A fitting reminder of the ships and more importantly the men that served on them. Lest we forget.

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  5. Worked on the radar on her years ago.....what a great ship.

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  6. Great old Ship . It needs to be Dry dock badly .

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    Replies
    1. It is a great ship. I worry that it may become to difficult to continue caring for her. She is a treasure indeed!

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  7. I went to see that Battleship Texas way back in 1983 what a great old ship

    ReplyDelete

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