The USS Texas

The content below is from Episode 144 of the Who’d a Thunk It? Podcast


  • This week I recommend you watch Vox Machina on Amazon Prime.
    • Vox Machina was a creation of a group that call themselves Critical Role
      • A band of professional voice actors improvises, role-plays and rolls their way through a `Dungeon and Dragons’ campaign. The voice actors play a diverse cast of characters, who go on adventures within the kingdom.
      • They streamed their D&D gameplay and tried to sell merch.
    • Critical Role’s first campaign was Vox Machina:
      • Vox Machina, a band of eight unlikely heroes, find themselves on a quest to save the realm of Exandria from dark magical forces.
      • There was a kickstarter request from fans to give money for a simple 22-minute episode… BUT fans donated WAY more than expected (over 11 million) so an entire animated season was created and is now on Amazon Prime.
    • You don’t need to know anything about Critical Role, D&D, or any of that because I didn’t and I loved the show. So did Shannon actually, and she isn’t usually big on the fantasy genre.
    • It is a fun adult animated show with a bunch of main characters. They crack genuinely funny jokes and moments and the action is horrifyingly good.


  • I want you to imagine you are out at sea on a boat. Any boat will do, so whatever kind of boat your imagination conjured up, thats fine. Now imagine your boat starts filling up with water… bad news right?
    • Well, yeah. Usually when your boat starts filling up with water that means you are sinking.
      • There is a major exception to this: Ballast water is fresh or saltwater held in the ballast tanks and cargo holds of ships. It is used to provide stability and maneuverability during a voyage when ships are not carrying cargo, not carrying heavy enough cargo, or when more stability is required due to rough seas. – National Invasive Species Information Center
      • But for the most part, water in boat=having a bad time.
    • Well, there is one story from history that took this notion and flipped it on its head. The crazy sonz-a-bitches on the USS Texas during WW2 intentionally filled their vessel with water because it somehow helped them defeat the Nazis!
  • The tale of the USS Texas BB-35
    • In 1910, two New York-class battleships were authorized for construction. The winning bid for the USS Texas was $5,830,000 ($182 Million in 2023 dollars according to
    • The USS Texas first tasted the salty brine of sea on May 18th of 1912. She was commissioned in March of 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world.
    • She barely had time to get her sea legs. By May of 1914, she was sent to Mexico to aid in a situation going on down south. An American UBoat was being detained in Tampico. The USS Texas stayed in Mexico for a few months assisting US forces from offshore.
  • WW1
    • Then a little skirmish broke out all around the world, forever changing the face of battle for virtually every nation on Earth: World War One.
    • While escorting the merchant ship Mongolia, the USS Texas’ batteries opened fired upon a surfaced German UBoat. It was the first American shot of World War 1.
      • The German UBoat wasn’t sunk, but its attack on the Mongolia was halted.
    • The USS Texas served the rest of World War 1 alongside Britain’s Grand Fleet. She escorted convoys and minelayers.
The time an American battleship flooded itself…on purpose
Crewman aboard USS Texas pose on one of the ship’s main 14-inch gun batteries (U.S. Navy)
  • Inter-War
    • In between World War One and World War Two, the USS Texas became the first American Battleship to launch a plane from her bow in 1919.
    • For a short period of time, the USS Texas was the flagship of the US Pacific Fleet. Then, just before WW2 broke out, she returned to serve in the Atlantic.
    • Before America joined the fight, the USS Texas would patrol in the name of neutrality escorting convoys across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • WW2
    • The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941 plunged the US into WW2. At first, the USS Texas was tasked with escorting convoys to places like Panama, Sierra Leone, and the UK.
    • The Allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch), the Texas blaired Lt. Gen. Dwight D Eisenhower’s “Voice of Freedom” speech. Its purpose was to reach the Vichy French puppet government to not slow the allied landings. The Texas fired 300 shells to support allied forces during Operation Torch… they thought that was a lot of shells until their next operation…
    • Operation Overlord was the invasion of Normandy (D-Day). The Texas was with the Western Taskforce and on June 6th, 1944 she took her position off Pointe du Hoc. She began her ordered bombardment of the coast to support the 29th Infantry Division, 2nd, and 5th Ranger Battalions.
      • You know, usual battleship stuff.
    • It took the Texas only 34 minutes to fire 255 14-inch shells into Pointe du Hoc…
      • Boy, I can’t even imagine the magnitude of chaos and power witnessed by those who were there that day. And from what I’ve heard from firsthand accounts… I don’t want to know.
    • Those 34 minutes were up and so Air support radioed down to the Texas informing her that German reinforcements had arrived, artillery batteries spotted, and more strong points were farther inland. The Texas adjusted accordingly.
The time an American battleship flooded itself…on purpose
USS Texas fires a salvo from her 14-inch guns (U.S. Navy)
  • As you may know, D-Day was a success for the allies
    • Though it was a hellish slugfest and to-date one of the largest battle operations ever carried out, allied forces did progress inland.
    • As land forces moved farther inland, the need for naval support did too. The Texas moved closer to shore originally stationed 12,000 yards offshore, she crept to 3,000 yards offshore to proceed with her bombardments. After days of providing support in the form of 14-inch shells delivered at high speed to Nazi bunkers and camps, the Texas had to re-arm itself back in England.
    • By the time she returned off the coast of France, the allied troops had pushed so far inland that the enemy targets were now out of reach of naval ships and their guns. While other ships gave up, radioing back to command that they weren’t able to carry out their orders due to impossibility, the Texas‘ crew used their imagination.
    • The Texas was determined to carry out their fire missions. The massive 14-inch guns on her bow didn’t have the elevation capabilities required to reach designated Nazi targets. They couldn’t lob their shots far enough inland as the invading allies needed.
      • I want you to think of a solution here… I’ve given a few hints so far, you might be able to figure out what the crew of the Texas did next.
    • If the guns facing port couldn’t point any higher… than the starboard side of the ship would have to be lowered…
    • The Texas deliberately flooded her starboard torpedo blister and tilted the USS Texas just a smidge back so that her front end would tilt upward. It worked. The Texas’ main batteries were raised 2 degrees, enough elevation to carry out their firing missions. They had overcome where their fellow battleships had seen way of doing so.
      • Meanwhile, the Germans, who had been shelled into oblivion for days, thought they were finally in the clear. Their intel accurately told them that battleships of the time weren’t capable of firing as far inland as they were currently positioned. They still had to deal with encroaching troops and land artillery, but at least they didn’t have to worry about America’s horrifying sea power anymore… or so they thought LOL

“The reason the American Army does so well in wartime, is that war is chaos, and the American Army practices it on a daily basis.”

-from a post WWII debriefing of a German General

I know this story isn’t about the Army, but I thought it was fitting for a story about a ship that deliberately filled part of itself with water…

  • Necessity is the mother of invention. The USS Texas was given a seemingly impossible task. Instead of giving up, they showed ingenuity and adapted to the situation.
  • Today the USS Texas is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both WW1 and WW2.


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