Battleships Nevada, foreground? Texas background? by photolibrarian

USS Nevada (Battleship # 36, later BB-36), 1916-1948

USS Nevada, first of a class of two 27,500-ton battleships, was built at Quincy, Massachusetts. She was commissioned in March 1916 and operated in the western Atlantic and the Caribbean until mid-1918, when she went to the British Isles for World War I service. Following that conflict, Nevada was active in the Atlantic, Caribbean and Pacific. Cruises to Brazil in 1922 and to Australia in 1925 punctuated a decade of regular fleet exercises and drills.

Nevada was modernized in 1927-30, exchanging her "basket" masts for tripods. The update work also included the installation of a new superstructure, relocation of her five-inch secondary battery, new anti-aircraft guns and significant improvements to her firepower and protection. She then returned to duty with the U.S. Battle Fleet, mainly operating in the Pacific over the next eleven years.

The only battleship able to get underway during the 7 December 1941 Pearl Harbor Raid, Nevada was the object of intense attacks by Japanese aircraft. Left in a sinking condition after receiving one torpedo and several bomb hits, she had to be beached. Vigorous salvage work and temporary repairs enabled her to steam to the U.S. west coast in April 1942. She spent the rest of the year receiving permanent repairs and improvements, including a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft gun battery.

Nevada returned to combat during the Attu landings in May 1943. Transferred to the Atlantic in mid-1943, her 14" and 5" guns were actively employed during the Normandy Invasion in June 1944 and the Southern France operation in August and September. The battleship then returned to the Pacific, where she assisted with the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945. Though damaged by a suicide plane on 27 March and by an artillery shell on 5 April, Nevada remained in action off Okinawa until June 1945. She spent the remaining months of World War II in the Western Pacific, preparing for the invasion of Japan.

With the coming of peace, Nevada steamed back to Hawaii. She was too old for retention in the post-war fleet, and was assigned to serve as a target during the July 1946 atomic bomb tests at Bikini, in the Marshall Islands. That experience left her damaged and radioactive, and she was formally decommissioned in August 1946. After two years of inactivity, USS Nevada was towed to sea off the Hawaiian islands and sunk by gunfire and torpedos.

USS Texas (Battleship Number 35, later BB-35), 1914-1948

USS Texas, a 27,000-ton New York class battleship built at Newport News, Virginia, was commissioned in March 1914. In May, she steamed to Vera Cruz to support the occupation of that Mexican city. Regular operations with the Atlantic Fleet began in mid-year and continued to January 1918. The battleship then crossed the ocean to join the Grand Fleet in the North Sea, where she remained to the end the First World War. Texas returned to the United States in late December 1918 and again took up her duties with the Atlantic Fleet.

Reassigned to the Pacific Fleet in mid-1919, and designated BB-35 in 1920, Texas came back to the Atlantic in 1924, when she again visited Europe on a training cruise. The ship received new oil-fired boilers and many improvements to her combat systems in a major modernization that began in 1925. With her appearance transformed, Texas’ operations alternated between the Atlantic and the Pacific until 1931, when her base was shifted to California. For the next six years, she served as a fleet and division flagship during regular U.S. Fleet exercises. Texas briefly revisited the Atlantic in 1936 and was sent back to that ocean in 1937 for service that would last until late in 1944.

During 1937-39, Texas kept busy training the Navy’s officers and men. When the Second World War began in September 1939, she joined other Atlantic Squadron ships in maintaining a Neutrality Patrol, an activity that became increasingly warlike when the U.S. Navy began convoying western Atlantic shiping in 1941. The next year, with the Nation now formally at war, Texas escorted troops and supplies to Panama, West Africa and the British Isles. A change in mission took place in October and November 1942, when she provided heavy gunfire support during the invasion of North Africa. Texas continued her Atlantic convoy escort duties through 1943 and beyond. In April 1944 she began preparations for the Normandy landings, which began on 6 June 1944, with Texas’ 14-inch and 5-inch guns firing on German positions ashore for several days. On 25 June, she participated in a bombardment of Cherbourg, France, during which she was hit twice by enemy coastal artillery fire. Her heavy guns were again active in August, this time in the Mediterranean Sea in support of landings in Southern France.

After an overhaul, Texas went to the Pacific, arriving in the war zone in time to take part in the February 1945 Iwo Jima invasion. From late March to late May, she operated off Okinawa, firing her guns against Japanese positions and helping to fight off suicide plane attacks. Texas was preparing for the invasion of Japan when the war ended in August 1945. She left the Western Pacific in late September and spent the next three months transporting veterans home. Returning to the Atlantic coast in February 1946, Texas was inactive until April 1948, when she was placed out of commission and turned over to the State of Texas. She has been maintained as a memorial at San Jacinto ever since.
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