World War I - North Sea Operations
11 February to 11 November 1918
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.
"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
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.
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
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
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.
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
During a 11 June balloon deployment, the balloon broke lose.
Best estimate for the removal of the balloon is September - October 1918
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
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
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
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.
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
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