World War I - North Sea Operations
11 February to 11 November 1918

  Overall Operation  
Arriving in Scapa Flow on 11 February 1918, TEXAS operated as part of the Royal Navy's 6th Battle Squadron. American officers commanded the American ship's and the battle squadron, but the overall American admiral followed Royal Navy operations.

TEXAS and NEW YORK were the most powerful American battleships in Europe for only the coal burners were sent, for the British Isles did not have enough fuel oil for the oil burners.

The North Sea map and the other maps through 11 November were created with MapInfo.  The ship's latitude-longitude entries in the Log Book which were merged with course and-or speed entries in the Log Book. I purchased the complete 1918 deck log (1,100 pages) from the National Archives. The microfilm copy has been converted in digital form.

BB35 operated out of Scapa Flow, Orkney Isl and Firth of Forth, Scotland sailing 12,257 miles during 62 sorties, of which 10,625 miles were covered during the 18 sorties that were greater than 185 miles. The other 44 sailings were less than 81 miles. The 18 sorties used 7,720 tons of coal.  The cost to maintain TEXAS in service in 1917 was $1,018,000 and in 1918 was $1,516,000. (Based on the average cost of all US battleships - 1918 US Navy summary).



Appearance until 4 November 1918
The photo is courtesy of Charles Emmons, who's father Martin Emmoms was aboard Texas during World War One.

  The Crew  
"TEXAS" is being spelled with signal flags by the five sailors atop turret 2
Crew size 1,466 as of 1 March 1918 (per Deck Log): 63 - Officers, 1,328 - Sailors, 75 - Marines

Captain Victor Blue
14 August 1916 to 31 December 1918


Captain Blue was the third of 26 different officers to command BB35. He also had the longest command of any BB35 commander with 870 days. The next closest was 767 days and the average was 497 days. .

In 1918, the monthly base pay for an officer with the rank of Captain was $333.00. For a Seaman 3rd Class, monthly base pay ranged from $16 to $22.

The photo location is on the superstructure deck, starboard side.  The compartment to his right is the Captain's Cabin.  On the bulkhead are three racks for 5inch shells to be used by 5inch gun 21.

The round object on the deck to the right of his right foot is a deck light for sun to enter the ships interior.

  Sortie 16-17 February (1st of 3 submarine sightings)  
Five days after arrival TEXAS made her first major sortie into the North Sea, on 16 February.

The Deck Log records at 2137, the ship ahead signaled submarine sighted. At 2140, TEXAS sighted what appeared to be a periscope 600 yards off the port bow. Responding to the report, 5inch/51 cal gun #20 fires. (The quantity of shells unknown.). The gun is on port side of the superstructure. 

The 5 inch gun in the photo on  the right is starboard gun 21 on the superstructure deck.

Ship returned to Scapa Flow the next day, at 0100.

Boilers in port: Upon return from a sortie, 10 of the 14 boilers were shut down and coal was brought aboard. Though a lot of mechanical equipment was aboard, it still took a small army of these guys and their shovel to get the job done. TEXAS did burn fuel oil with coal at high speeds, with each boiler having six Peabody oil burners.
Cubic foot fuel storage: 
Coal: 124,341; Fuel Oil: 19,540. 

  Sorties 8-12 March and 17-20 April  

Two convoy escorts to Norway



  Sortie:  24-26 April  
The closest TEXAS came to encountering German surface ships  was on her next sortie of 24 - 26 April. The German High Seas Fleet had sorted from Jade Bay toward the Norwegian coast. Forward units of the allied ships caught sight of the German ships returning to their base on the 25th.

  Sortie: 30 June to 2 July (2nd of 3 submarine sightings)  
30 June to 2 July TEXAS was escorting minelayers to add mines to the North Sea mine belt the British had made to block supply ships from entering German ports. The Deck Log records the second submarine encounter occurring on 30 June, at 1626, when the WYOMING reported a submarine and fired. TEXAS went to torpedo defense but saw no submarine. Shortly after, a periscope was sighted and at 1725, 5"/51 cal gun #21 gun fires one shot and the 3" anti-aircraft gun atop one of the cranes fires two shells. WYOMING also fires at the periscope.


  Aviation  
28 May 1918, a kite balloon was brought aboard, from the kite balloon station, at Rosyth Scotland. The balloon was a two-man observation platform that floated 800 - 1000 feet above the ship. Each occupant was provided a parachute. A telephone was connected from the balloon to the bridge. One ship in a squadron would tow the balloon while sailing in the North Sea. During a 11 June balloon deployment, the balloon broke lose. Best estimate for the removal of the balloon is September - October 1918

  The Crew  
Feeding The Crew
A massive task for the number of people aboard had increased buy 400 since the commissioning but the amount of space for food preparation had not changed. By law, the Navy could not spend more than 40cents a day to feed a sailor (which is $5.12 in 2005 dollars). For a listing as to the provisions aboard when TEXAS left New York for Scapa Flow, click on the "rations" link at the top
Airing bedding on the main deck - photo date is May 1918
Personnel inspection by the Captain photo date is 17 August 1918

 

Baseball:

Though the world was at war, America still celebrated the 4th of July. The Sheffield Star reports the TEXAS baseball team played a combined US Army team, in Sheffield, England, before 25,000 people. BB35 had defeated the other US ships and was playing the top US Army team. Neither the "Star" or the book "North Sea Days" records the score but "Days" states the Army won and the Army team had 4 major league and 4 minor league players. Looks like the Army had to stack the deck to beat BB35

 

Football

Was also widely played. On 9 October, the BB35 team played the team from NEW YORK with NEW YORK winning 20 to 0


  Sortie: 6 to 8 July  
Exercises were conducted with the Grand Fleet, on 6 - 8 July (map right). With British Admiral Beatty aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, TEXAS, NEW YORK and ARKANSAS, sailed with the Grand Fleet to conduct tactical exercises, in the North Sea.

  Sortie: 8 to 10 August (3rd of 3 submarine sightings)  
The Deck Log records that during the 8 - 10 August convoy  a third submarine incident occured off the Norwegian coast.

On the 9th, at 0652, ARKANSAS sighted a submarine to port and fires 5" guns. At 0658, TEXAS fires at a suspect periscope with one round from 2ND deck portside 5"/51 cal guns #6 and #8. The escorting destroyers followed up with depth charges. (No additional submarine encounter data).

  29 August: Franklin D Roosevelt Visit  
Several VIP visits were made in late August and September, while in Forth of Forth.

First, a 29 August visit from Franklin D Roosevelt, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (later President).

British Admiral Lord Jellico, First Lord of the British Admiralty came aboard 7 September.


  The Crew  
 Discipline
One of the most serious offenses is theft for it breaks down trust. On 29 September a TEXAS sailor broke into a ditty box and stole 5 boxes of Fig Newton cookies having a total value of $0.70. For the offense, he was fined $27.70 and placed in solitary brig confinement for 15 days with full ration every 3rd day.
Theater
 
The crew still found time and ways to entertain, including shows for their British cousins with "show girls".
Ship's Band in front of the "Great Iron Bridge" over the Firth of Forth
Medical

No TEXAS sailors injured during the firings at the suspected submarine periscopes but accidents and disease did claim lives.

The ship's deck log does not contain any entries regarding influenza.




  20 October to 4 November Drydock,  
The harsh environment of the North Sea sent TEXAS to a Royal Navy dry dock, in Jarrow Slake, England, which is just east of Newcastle The dock was operated by "Smith Dock Company Ltd" (1907 - 1988). Sister ship NEW YORK was here in February and then the rest of the American Squadron in April and May.

Entering the Admiralty Floating Dry Dock on 20 October:
*** Hull was painted
*** Airplane platform installed atop Turret 2 - though no flights were made from it until 10 March 1919
*** Exposed navigation position atop the Chart House was enclosed, known as the Pilot House. The 1918 structure is the same one today. The 1912 Joiner drawings show the Pilot House but the structure was not built during the ship's construction.

Departing dry dock 4 November, TEXAS returned to Firth of Forth.

Appearance upon departure from the dry dock
  11 November - The Armistice  
The armistice of 11 November 1918 had the TEXAS in Firth of Forth.

That evening the searchlights were turned on from 1900 to 2230. At 1930, the first motor sailer (boat) manned by the band and a large party of men left the ship and passed around the Fleet flying American, British and French flags. At 2245, at the request of the crew, Captain Blue made a short address to them. At 2300, the ship was piped down and darkened. At 2300, Captain Blue also released all brig prisoners for the night.

Some happy sailors for they will soon be going home


Started 11 May 1999 by Chuck Moore, FTV (1st Texas Volunteers) a Battleship Texas volunteer group - Donate Your Time And Support The Battleship Texas