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Here’s why the USS Texas flooded itself on purpose in WWII

The USS Texas is an iconic battleship that served in World War I and II. But interesting events during World War II, like the USS Texas flooding, make the battleship stand out from others in history.

According to War History Online, the ship was commissioned in March 1914 and made its debut in the aftermath of the Tampico Affair, which involved a minor conflict between U.S. Navy sailors and Mexican soldiers, in April 1914. After the U.S. entered World War 1 in April 1917, The USS Texas crossed the Atlantic Ocean to join the Grand Fleet — the main battle fleet of the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy.

Though the USS Texas was viewed as an impressive battleship, it was the ship’s role in a pivotal operation during World War II that marks its place in the history books.

In 1944, the USS Texas was part of an operation known as Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy). The operation began on June 6, 1944 (known as D-Day), and it served as the largest amphibious invasion in military history. USS Texas held its ground for a few days before briefly departing for England, only to arrive back in Normandy on June 15.

At that time, the Allied forces had already pushed inland and mostly out of range for USS Texas to have any impact, as the battleship’s port side guns couldn’t aim high enough to hit intended targets. Unwilling to sit idly by as calls to fire continued, the crew aboard the USS Texas did the unthinkable by intentionally flooding the torpedo blister to lower the starboard side (the right, steering side of a ship).

This allowed the USS Texas to be lowered into the water by an extra two degrees, which allowed the ship’s guns to fire accurately and effectively so the mission could be completed.

USS Texas is being restored in this Texas city

USS Texas, also known as Battleship Texas, served its military purpose for 34 years before the ship was retired to Hawkins Point, Baltimore, from June 1946 to January 1948. In 1948, the ship was donated to the state of Texas to serve as a memorial and a museum.

According to the official website for Battleship Texas, the ship’s last captain, Charles Baker, had sentimental parting words for USS Texas: “Her wars are over, she has won the right to rest peacefully in Texas waters.”

The ship’s longtime home was in the water near the San Jacinto Monument at the San Jacinto Park west of Houston in La Porte, Texas. However, the USS Texas was towed to a dry dock at the Gulf Copper shipyard in Galveston, Texas, in 2022 for extensive repairs. In March 2024, the ship was returned to the water in the same shipyard where workers will now repair and restore the ship’s topside.

Battleship Texas Foundation President Tony Gregory told Houston’s NBC affiliate KPRC Houston that they will also be installing new bathrooms, painting the topside of the ship and adding exhibits for the museum. Gregory also said they hope to complete the work and reopen Battleship Texas to the public by late summer 2025.

Though it’s not yet confirmed, the hope is that USS Texas will be moored at Pier 20 in Galveston, as the foundation claims to be in the final stages of negotiations and permitting to do so.

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