Friday, May 25, 2012

Fullbore Friday

What ship was launched 100 years ago this month?

100 is a big number for a ship ... so if it is big .... LT B gird your loins .... then it must be USS TEXAS (BB-35)!

We could spend hours on the ship that my paternal Grandfather (GM3 Salamander) saw from his ship, the USS ARKANSAS (BB-33), with the Brits in WWI - but let's just say "Happy Birthday" to the grand lady who completed 34 years of commissioned service and can still be visited today - and give a nod to a few bits in her highlight reel.
On 23 October 1942, Texas embarked upon her first major combat operation when she sortied with Task Group 34.8 (TG 34.8), the Northern Attack Group for Operation Torch, the invasion of North Africa. ... Texas transmitted Lieutenant General Dwight D. Eisenhower's first "Voice of Freedom" broadcast, asking the French not to oppose Allied landings on North Africa. When the troops went ashore, Texas did not come immediately into action to support them. At that point in the war, amphibious warfare doctrine was still embryonic; and many did not recognize the value of a pre-landing bombardment. ... Thus, unlike in later operations, she expended only 273 rounds of 14 in (360 mm) ammunition and six rounds of 5 in (130 mm) ammunition.
At 03:00 on 6 June 1944, Texas and the British cruiser Glasgow entered the Omaha Western fire support lane and into her initial firing position 12,000 yd (11,000 m) offshore near Pointe du Hoc at 04:41, as part of a combined total US-British flotilla of 702 ships, including seven battleships and five heavy cruisers.[44][45][A 8]

The initial bombardment commenced at 05:50, against the site of six 15 cm (5.9 in) guns, atop Pointe du Hoc.[2] When Texas ceased firing at the Pointe at 0624, 255 14 in (360 mm) shells had been fired in 34 minutes—an average rate of fire of 7.5 shells per minute, which was the longest sustained period of firing for Texas in World War II.[44] While shells from the main guns were hitting Pointe du Hoc, the 5 in (130 mm) guns were firing on the area leading up to Exit D-1, the route to get inland from western Omaha. At 06:26, Texas shifted her main battery gunfire to the western edge of Omaha Beach, around the town of Vierville. Meanwhile, her secondary battery went to work on another target on the western end of "Omaha" beach, a ravine laced with strong points to defend an exit road. Later, under control of airborne spotters, she moved her major-caliber fire inland to interdict enemy reinforcement activities and to destroy batteries and other strong points farther inland.
By 15 June, the troops had advanced to the edge of Texas's gun range; her last fire support mission was so far inland that to get the needed range, the starboard torpedo blister was flooded with water to provide a list of two degrees which gave the guns enough elevation to complete the fire mission. With combat operations beyond the range of her guns on 16 June, Texas left Normandy for England on 18 June.
Hey - speaking of Pops's ship,
On the morning of 25 June Texas, in company with Arkansas, Nevada, four cruisers and eleven destroyers, closed in on the vital port of Cherbourg to suppress the fortifications and batteries surrounding the town while the US Army's VII Corps attacked the city from the rear. While enroute to Cherbourg, the bombardment plan was changed and Task Group 129.2 (TG 129.2), built around Arkansas and Texas, was ordered to move six miles (10 km) to the east of Cherbourg and engage the guns of Battery Hamburg, a large shore battery composed of four 240 mm (9.4 in).[50][51][52] At 12:08, Arkansas was the first to fire at the German positions, while the German gunners waited for Arkansas and Texas to be well in range to return fire. At 12:33, Texas was straddled by three German shells; five minutes later Texas returned fire with a continuous stream of two-gun salvos. The battleship continued her firing runs in spite of shell geysers blossoming about her and difficulty spotting the targets because of smoke; however, the enemy gunners were just as stubborn and skilled. At 13:16, a German 240 mm (9.4 in) shell skidded across the top of her Conning Tower, sheared the top of the fire control periscope off (the periscope remains fell back into the Conning Tower and wounded the gunnery officer and three others), hit the main support column of the Navigation Bridge and exploded.[50][53][54] The explosion caused the deck of the Pilot House above to be blown upwards approximately 4 ft (1.2 m), wrecked the interior of the Pilot House, and wounded seven. Of the eleven total casualties from the German shell hit, only one man succumbed to his wounds—the helmsman on duty, Christen Christensen.[55] Texas's commanding officer, Captain Baker, miraculously escaped unhurt and quickly had the bridge cleared. The warship herself continued to deliver her 14 in (360 mm) shells in two-gun salvos and, in spite of damage and casualties, scored a direct hit that penetrated one of the heavily reinforced gun emplacements to destroy the gun inside at 13:35.[51]

At 14:47, an unexploded 240 mm (9.4 in) shell was reported.[56] The shell crashed through the port bow directly below the Wardroom and entered the stateroom of Warrant Officer M.A. Clark, but failed to explode. The unexploded shell was later disarmed by a Navy bomb disposal officer in Portsmouth and is currently displayed aboard the ship. Throughout the three-hour duel, the Germans straddled and near-missed Texas over sixty-five times, but she continued her mission firing 206 14 in (360 mm) shells at Battery Hamburg until 15:01 when, upon orders to that effect, she retired.
Oh, there's more. Head on over to Wikipedia for more.

Five battlestars and only one combat casualty. Wow.

Oh, and one day we need to have a Salamanderpalooza with Sid leading a Hard Hat tour.

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