Note the Sopwith Camel atop turret # 4

The 6 April declaration of war found Texas riding at anchor in the mouth of the York River with the other Atlantic Fleet battleships. She remained in the Virginia Capes-Hampton Roads vicinity until mid-August conducting exercises and training naval armed-guard gun crews for service on board merchant ships.

In August, she steamed to New York for repairs, arriving at Base 10 on the 19th and entering the New York Navy Yard soon thereafter. She completed repairs on 26 September and got underway for Port Jefferson that same day. During the mid-watch on the 27th, however, she ran hard aground on Block Island. For three days, her crew lightened ship to no avail. On the 30th, tugs came to her assistance, and she finally backed clear. Hull damaged dictated a return to the yard, and the extensive repairs she required precluded her departure with Division 9 for the British Isles in November.

By December, she had completed repairs and moved south to conduct war games out of the York River. Mid-January 1918 found the battleship back at New York preparing for the voyage across the Atlantic. She departed New York on 30 January; arrived at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands off the coast of Scotland on 11 February; and rejoined Division 9, by then known as the 6th Battle Squadron of Britain’s Grand Fleet.

Texas‘ service with the Grand Fleet consisted entirely of convoy missions and occasional forays to reinforce the British squadron on blockade duty in the North Sea whenever German heavy units threatened. The fleet alternated between bases at Scapa Flow and at the Firth of Forth in Scotland. Texas began her mission only five days after her arrival at Scapa Flow where she sortied with the entire fleet to reinforce the 4th Battle Squadron, then on duty in the North Sea. She returned to Scapa Flow the next day and remained until 8 March when she put to sea on a convoy escort mission from which she returned on the 13th. Texas and her division mates entered the Firth of Forth on 12 April but got underway again on the 17th to escort a convoy . The American battleships returned to base on 20 April. Four days later, Texas again stood out to sea to support the 2d Battle Squadron the day after the German High Seas Fleet had sortied from Jade Bay toward the Norwegian coast to threaten an Al lied convoy. Forward units caught sight of the retiring Germans on the 25th but at such extreme range that no possibility of bringing the enemy to battle existed. The Germans returned to their base that day, and the Grand Fleet; including Texas, did likewise on the next.

Texas and her division mates passed a relatively quiescent May in the Firth of Forth. On 9 June, she got underway with the other warships of the 6th Battle Squadron and headed back to the anchorage at Scapa Flow, arriving there the following day. Between 30 June and 2 July, Texas and her colleagues acted as escort for American minelayers adding to the North Sea mine barrage.

After a two-day return to Scapa Flow, Texas put to sea with the Grand Fleet to conduct two days of tactical exercises and war games. At the conclusion of those drills on 8 July, the fleet entered the Firth of Forth. For the remainder of World War I, Texas and the other battleships of Division 9 continued to operate with the Grand Fleet as the 6th Battle Squadron. With the German Fleet increasingly more tied to its bases in the estuaries of the Jade and Ema Rivers, the American and British ships settled, more and more into a routine schedule of operations with little or no hint of combat operations. That state of affairs lasted until the armistice ended hostilities on 11 November 1918. On the night of 20 and 21 November, she accompanied the Grand Fleet to meet the surrendering German Fleet.

The two fleets rendezvoused about 40 miles east of May Island- located near the mouth of the Firth of Forth-and proceeded together into the anchorage at Scapa Flow. Afterward, the American contingent moved to Portland, England, arriving there on 4 December.

Eight days later, Texas put to sea with Divisions 9 and 6 to meet President Woodrow Wilson embarked in GEORGE Washington on his way to the Paris Peace Conference. The rendezvous took place at about 0730 the following morning and provided an escort for the President into Brest, France, where the ships arrived at 1230 that afternoon. That evening, Texas and the other American battleships departed Brest on the 14th to return to the United States. The warships arrived off Ambrose Light on Christmas Day 1918 and entered New York on the 26th.

Following overhaul, Texas resumed duty with the Atlantic Fleet early in 1919. On 9 March, she became the first American battleship to carry an airplane when Lt. Comdr. Edward O. McDonnell flew a British-built Sopwith “Camel” off the warship. That summer, she was reassigned to the Pacific Fleet.

On 17 July 1920, she was designated BB-35 as a result of the Navy’s adoption of the alpha-numeric system of hull designations. Texas served in the Pacific until 1924 when she returned to the east coast for overhaul and to participate in a training cruise to European waters with Naval Academy midshipmen embarked. That fall, she conducted maneuvers as a unit of the Scouting Fleet.

In 1925, she entered the Norfolk Navy Yard for a major modernization over haul during which her cage masts were replaced with a single tripod foremast. She also received the very latest in fire control equipment. Following that overhaul, she resumed duty along the eastern seaboard and kept at that task until late in 1927 when she did a brief tour of duty in the Pacific between late September and early December

Leave a Reply