A short drive from downtown Houston, the Battleship Texas State Historic Site is a hands-on piece of technological history. The Texas is the oldest surviving battleship, patterned after the HMS Dreadnought, and only one of six surviving ships to have served in both World Wars. The ship was launched on 18 May, 1912 and commissioned on 12 March, 1914. After serving out the wars, she was decommissioned on 21 April, 1948 — taking on her current role as the first battleship memorial museum in the U.S.
While in service, the Texas was notable for a number of firsts (quoting from its Texas Parks and Wildlife page):
- In 1916, Texas became the first U.S. battleship to mount antiaircraft guns and the first to control gunfire with directors and range-keepers, analog forerunners of today’s computers.
- In 1919, Texas became the first U.S. battleship to launch an aircraft.
- The Texas received the first commercial radar in the US Navy in 1939.
- The First Marine Division was founded aboard the Texas early in 1941.
- The Texas holds the distinguished designation of a National Historic Landmark and a National Mechanical Engineering Landmark.
After a number of rejuvenations, the Texas currently rests in a slip along the Houston Ship Channel in LaPorte, Texas. Yet she still leaks, so work is afoot to move her to a permanent dry berth by the summer of 2017.