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NEW YORK CLASS BB

New York - underway at high speed, 29 May 1915. 19-N-13046
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Ship Builder Laid Down Launched Completed Fate
BB34 New York New York NY 11 Sept 11 30 Oct 12 15 April 14 Expended 8 July 48
BB35 Texas Newport News, Shipbuilding 17 April 11 18 May 12 12 Mar 14 Memorial ship 48

As designed
Displacement: 27,000 tons/27,432 tonnes (standard); 28,367 tons/28,820 tonnes (full load)
Length: 573ft/174.7m (oa); 565ft/172.3m (wl)
Beam: 95ft 6in/29.1m
Draught: 28ft 6in/8.7m (mean)
Machinery: fourteen Babcock & Wilcox boilers; 2-shaft 4-cyl vertical triple expansion engines
Bunkerage: 1,900 tons coal, 267 tons oil
Performance: 28,100 IHP , 21kts
Range: 7,060nm at 10kts
Protection: main belt 12in; lower casemates 11 in; upper casemates 6.5in; deck 2in; barbettes 12in;CT12in; turrets 14in
Guns: ten (5x2) 14in; twenty-one (21x1) 5in
Torpedo tubes: four 21 in (submerged)
Aircraft: nil
Complement: 1,042

As rebuilt, 1928
Displacement: 28,700 tons/29,159 tonnes (standard); 30,000tons/29,159 tonnes (full load)
Beam: 106ft/32.29m
Machinery: six Bureau Express boilers; 2-shaft 4-cyl vertical triple expansion engines
Bunkerage: 2,810 tons oil Performance: 28,100IHP = 19.7kts
Range: 15,000nm at 10kts (using emergency load oil)
Protection: 3.5in added over magazines, boilers and engine rooms; 1.75in added over steering gear and turret tops
Guns: ten (5x2) 14in; sixteen (16x1) 5in; eight (8x1) 3inAA
Torpedo tubes: nil
Aircraft: three, catapults one

In April 1909 it was decided to build two more battleships of a similar type to Wyoming, but the question of the main armament had not yet been resolved -should an increase in calibre to 13.5in or 14in be made? A prototype 14in gun was successfully test fired early in 1910, and two ships armed with this calibre weapon were authorised on 24 June.

Design

The new ships displaced 27,000 tons, being 11 feet longer and having 2 feet more beam than the preceding class. The armour scheme was an improvement upon Wyoming only in that certain thicknesses were increased. The main waterline belt was 12in thick at the top and uniformly tapered to 10in at the bottom, 7ft 11.5in in depth between frames 18 to 122, with a 6in extension aft; 2 feet of the main belt was above the design waterline. The upper casemate belt was 9in-11in thick, and the battery deck was given 6.5in protection. Transverse armoured bulkheads were 10in-11in (frame 18), with another of 9in abaft the lower side belt at frame 137. There was a main armoured deck of l.5in+.5in amidships with 2.5in+.5in aft and 1in+.5in forward of the side belt. Barbettes and conning tower were 12in maximum. Main turrets had a 14in face and 9in sides. Protection amounted to 35 per cent of the standard displacement.

The main machinery reverted to triple expansion because of real or suspected failings in the turbines of the day. The US Navy required ships with high endurance for Pacific duties, and in 1910 turbine machinery was in its infancy, having very poor economy. So while turbine propulsion was considered, the reciprocating design submitted by Newport News was, in light of the improved reliability now being experienced in this type of plant, accepted by the Navy. Each ship's engines were manufactured by her builders, and were vertical inverted 4-cylinder triple expansion type. The advances made in efficiency in reciprocating machinery allowed a reduction in the designed power from 32,000 to 28,100ihp for 21 knots. There were fourteen Babcock mixed-fired boilers in three large and one small compartments. The engine rooms were abaft the magazine arrangements for the midships turret, and arranged for a 2-shaft layout, powered by two 4-cylinder vertical triple expansion engines. On trials 21.13 knots were reported to have been achieved.

Ten Mk 1 14in 45cal guns formed the main armament, in five twin turrets, two forward, three aft. No 4 turret superfired over Nos. 3 and 5. This gun fired a 1,500 lb shell to a range of 23,000 yards at 15° which was maximum elevation. Each turret weighed 532 tons. The secondary armament consisted of twenty-one 5in Mk 7 BL in three separate casemate batteries on the main deck, four guns on each beam forward and aft, and five amidships. Two more were carried on the superstructure deck abaft No. 2 turret. The odd remaining gun was shipped right aft on the centre-line. Four 21in fixed sub-merged torpedo tubes completed the armament.

The contracts were placed on 17 December 1910 for Texas and 1 May 1911 (date construction started) for New York.

Modifications

By the end of 1916 two 3in HA had been added atop the derrick posts, where they replaced four searchlights and three simple range-finders fitted to the roofs of Nos. 2, 3 and 4 turrets, but that on No. 3 turret had been landed by 1918. Texas had a flying-off platform on No. 2 turret by late 1918, the first in the USN. Three aircraft, probably Hanriot HD2s, were assigned to the ship but the first flight from the ship was made by a Sopwith Camel on 9 March 1919. She later operated Nieuport 28s and Sopwith l.5-Strutters. Both ships had the foremost two pairs of 5in casemate mountings and the single gun aft removed in 1920, all ports being plated up to improve seaworthiness. In 1922 four more 3in HA were added, two each on Nos. 3 and 4 turret tops, and New York was for a time equipped to operate a floatplane from the quarterdeck, both ships carrying a UO-1 subsequently. In this year studies began to look at the improvement and modernisation of the power plant, with new boilers and turbo-electric propulsion replacing the reciprocating machinery. This major re-engining was never carried out, but during the reconstruction of 1925-7 the coal-fired boilers were replaced by six Bureau Express oil-fired type, all uptakes being taken to a single funnel. The hulls were bulged, increasing beam by about 11 feet and the depth of torpedo protection to 15 feet, the torpedo tubes being removed in consequence. Nearly 3,000 tons of extra protection was provided: the main armoured deck received an additional 3.5in, and 1.75in was added to the 3rd deck forward and aft. Turret roofs and conning tower were also strengthened.

The main armament was not altered, but the foremost three 5in on each beam were raised one deck though still casemate mounted. On the broad new deck created above the resited secondary battery, four single 3in/50cal HA mountings were shipped as an economy measure, the newer 5in/25 weapons going to more modern ships, although the ammunition hoists were modified to accommodate the 5in shell. Tubs for eight 0.5in machine-guns were fitted on the fore and main tops. The superstructure was considerably modified, with a larger bridge and fore tripod mast, a short stub tripod mainmast and a fire control position aft of the funnel. New main battery fire controls were fitted. A catapult was fitted to the roof of No. 3 turret, up to five aircraft (O2U-1 and OL6) being assigned, although not necessarily carried. This modernisation increased displacement by more than 2,500 tons. Further modifications from 1927 to 1939 were limited to minor alterations to the rig, but in December 1938 New York was fitted with the first US radar set, the XAF, followed immediately by her sister receiving a CXZ set. Both ships were operating three OS2U-3 Kingfishers from November/December 1940. During hostilities modifications were few, since the ships' main deployment was in the Atlantic for most of the time. In November 1941 the elevation of the 14in guns was increased to 30°, the four 5in guns on the battery deck were removed and the ports plated over, and the single 5in on the fore end of the shelter deck were landed and replaced by two quadruple l.lin with two more fitted amidships. In August 1942 four more 1.1in mountings were fitted, by which time the 20mm had also been increased to forty-two in single mountings. In 1943-4, quadruple 40mm gradually replaced the 1.1in, the latter not being finally fully removed until October 1943. By the end of 1944 the AA outfit was ten 3in, ten quadruple 40mm and forty-four 20mm singles plus one twin. Plans to install twin 5in/38 and Mk 37 directors were abandoned with the end of the war.

Service

On completion New York joined the Atlantic Fleet and served as Flagship off Vera Cruz during the confrontation with Mexico in June 1914. In November 1917 Battleship Division 9, of which she was Flagship, was sent to join the British Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, where she arrived on 7 December 1917, the US ships serving as the 6th Battle Squadron. In December 1918 the ship returned to the USA and in the spring of 1919 cruised to the Caribbean before being assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Battleship Division 2 with the Scouting Fleet, based at San Diego, where she was to remain for the next sixteen years. In 1926 she was taken in hand at Norfolk Navy Yard for major reconstruction which was completed on 10 October 1927. She rejoined the Pacific Fleet and served with Battleship Division 3 (as Flagship 1929 - 1931). By the summer of 1932 New York was with Battleship Division 1 and remained in this squadron until 1937 when she was assigned to the Training Detachment, US Fleet. In that year she was sent to Europe as the sole US representative at the Coronation Review of King George VI at Spithead on 20 May. In 1939 New York was transferred to the Atlantic Squadron, Battleship Division 5, as Flagship, making training cruises in Atlantic and Caribbean waters for the next three years. She was with this squadron at the time of the US entry into the war. In the meantime she served with the Neutrality Patrol and covered the US occupation of Iceland in July 1941 as part of TF 19, after which she served as station ship at Argentia, Newfoundland, before becoming a radar training ship until the summer of 1942. These duties were interrupted by a refit at Norfolk Navy Yard from November 1941 to February 1942. During 1942 she covered Atlantic convoys as part of TF37 and in November participated in the landings in North Africa (Operation 'Torch') as a unit of TG34.10, the Southern Attack Force. New York engaged battery Railleuse near Sfax and was near-missed several times before it was disabled.

New York - off North Africa on 10 November 1942. 80-G-31582
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New York in heavy Atlantic seas, March 1943. 80-G-65893
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Ocean Spray on New York
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Following the landings, she escorted troop and supply convoys from the USA to North Africa until March 1943. From 7 July 1943 to 10 June 1944 she was employed as a gunnery training ship in Chesapeake Bay, after which she made three cruises to Trinidad with Naval Academy cadets before being refitted to join the Pacific war towards the end of that year. New York sailed for San Pedro on 21 November and, after completion of refit, sailed for the operational theatre on 12 January 1945, via Pearl Harbor and Eniwetok. She participated in rehearsals at Saipan for the Iwo Jima landings, and on 16 and 19 February 1945 bombarded Iwo Jima prior to, during and after the landings. After repairs at Manus, she served off Okinawa for some seventy-six days from 27 March, during which time she fired more than 11,000 rounds of 14in and 5in. On 14 April she was hit by a Kamikaze off Okinawa, which struck the port leg of the mainmast before going into the sea. Damage was minor, but the ship's own aircraft was destroyed. On 11 June she was ordered to Pearl Harbor to have new 14in and 5in guns, but the end of the war prevented any further active service. After ferrying home returning servicemen she arrived at New York on 19 October 1945 to be prepared for the atomic bomb tests and paid off on 30 October 1945. She left New York on 4 March 1946 for San Francisco from where she departed under tow for the test zone on 1 May, arriving at Bikini on 15 June. During the atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll (Operation 'Crossroads'), after Test Able (1 July 1946) she remained afloat and was hardly damaged. She also survived Test Baker on 25 July and was towed back to Pearl Harbor. She was found to be too radioactive to be scrapped, but remained under investigation for a couple of years until towed out to sea and sunk as a target on 8 July 1948.

Texas joined the fleet in May 1914 and was immediately dispatched to Vera Cruz in response to strained diplomatic relations with Mexico remaining in Mexican waters until 8 August after which she returned to New York. She served with Battleship Division 9 in the Atlantic Fleet with a normal peacetime routine until the US declaration of war on Germany on 6 April 1917. On 27 September 1917 she ran aground on Block Island and required repairs which lasted until December. After completion Texas sailed for Scapa Flow to rejoin her division, now known as the 6th Battle Squadron and serving with the British Grand Fleet, arriving on 11 February 1918. Her war service consisted in the main of convoy cover, with the occasional North Sea sweep, though no contact with German forces was made. In the summer of 1918 she covered the US minelaying forces laying the North Sea barrage. After the Armistice in November 1918, the US ships helped escort the surrendered German High Seas Fleet into Scapa Flow and then escorted President Wilson to Brest for the Paris Peace Conference, reaching New York finally on 26 December 1918.

In the summer of 1919 Texas was assigned to the Pacific Fleet until 1924, when she returned to the Atlantic Fleet, Scouting Force. She underwent a major modernisation at Norfolk Navy Yard from 1 August 1925 to 23 November 1926. During the years up to 1930 she was mainly deployed in the Atlantic, but made a number of short deployments to the Pacific during that time. In January 1931 she assumed the role of Fleet Flagship and for the next six years was based at San Diego, latterly as Flagship Battleship Division 1.

In the summer of 1937 she was reassigned to the east coast as Flagship of the Training Detachment. At the end of 1938 the Atlantic Squadron was formed, with Texas as Flagship of this and of Battleship Division 5. After the outbreak of the war in Europe she carried out Neutrality Patrol duties, then covered convoys to Britain as well as to Panama and Freetown.

Texas - silhouetted against the sunset, while participating in North Atlantic convoy operations, circa summer 1941. 80-G-K-387
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On 23 October 1942 she sailed as part of Task Group 34.8 for the landings in North Africa (Operation 'Torch') where she fired her first shots in anger, remaining off the beachhead on bombardment duties until 15 November when she departed for home. From the beginning of 1943 to April 1944 she continued with Atlantic convoy cover, but after working-up in Scottish waters, she was assigned to 'Overlord', and supported the troops landing on Omaha Beach with bombardments that continued until 15 June. On 25 June she formed part of the force which bombarded the town and port of Cherbourg, receiving a hit from an 11 in shell which struck the bridge and caused some casualties. A second hit from a 9.5in shell failed to explode, but the ship was near-missed some sixty-five times. After repairs at Portsmouth she sailed to participate in the landings in the South of France (Operation 'Dragoon'). Her fire support was only required for two days and she left the beachhead on 16 August, arriving in New York on 14 September.

Texas
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Texas
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Texas - at sea in the Hawaii area, while preparing for Pacific combat operations, 6 January 1945. 80-G-277035
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Texas was now assigned to the Pacific and after short repairs, left New York in November to arrive off Iwo Jima on 16 February to join the bombardment of that island, delivering fire support before, during and after the landings, but returned to Ulithi to prepare for the Okinawa campaign early in March 1945. She sailed with TF54 for Okinawa on 21 March, remaining on fire support duties there for some two months. In May she withdrew to Leyte in the Philippines, where she remained until the Japanese surrender on 15 August 1945, following which she returned to Okinawa and ferried troops home to the USA, making another three such 'magic carpet' trips before the end of the year. On 26 February 1946 she sailed from San Pedro for Norfolk, Va., where she was prepared for reducing to reserve, prior to being laid up at Baltimore, Md. In 1948 Texas was given to her name state as a memorial, being towed to San Jacinto State Park where she was decommissioned on 21 April 1948, being stricken from the Navy Register on the 30th.

Texas - the 5in gun turret
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Texas at sunrise, as she is today in Galveston harbor. The needle is the San Jacinto monument.
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