Texas class (CSA):
Essentially enlarged Florida’s
with a heavy secondary battery, the Texas
class was initially intended to consist of only two ships, with the next pair of battleships of a new design – which would have become the Louisiana
class. The Confederate Congress balked at the escalating costs of these ships however, and BuC&D made the decision to expand the Texas
class to four ships, skip the new design Louisiana
class, and put all the preliminary work already done into the advanced design which would become the Rio Grande
class of 1908. Thus the new class would consist of Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana
, and Arkansas
. They received the hull numbers B-9 to B-12 and commissioned between 1905 and 1906.
class was 416 feet long overall, with a 75 foot beam and a nominal draft of 26 feet. They displaced 14,325 tons normal and 15,250 tons full load. They were armed with four Mk.VII 12”/45 guns in two twin turrets fore and aft, four 9.2”/45 Mk.IV secondary guns in single wing turrets, twelve 6”/45 Mk.VIII guns in hull casemates, and eight 3”/50 Mk.III’s in open deck mounts. As in the Florida
class, three submerged 18” torpedo tubes mounted port, starboard, and stern completed the weapon suite. The last Confederate capital ships to be powered by reciprocating engines, the Texas’
were propelled by two four-cylinder triple expansion engines producing a total of 17,040 horsepower and had a design speed of 19 knots with a 7,000 nm range. Armor comprised an 11” belt, 3” deck, 12” main turrets and barbettes, 9” secondary turrets, 7” casemates, and a 12” conning tower. Crew complement was 752.
After entering service, the new battleships almost immediately saw combat during the Western Pacific War with three of the four lost during the conflict; CSS Texas
and CSS Mississippi
sunk during the Second Battle of Hawaii in 1908 and CSS Arkansas
lost a year earlier during the Guam Campaign. CSS Louisiana
continued to serve after the war ended and was converted to oil-burning boilers in 1920-21. During the War of the Americas she served primarily in second-line forces as a shore bombardment and heavy escort vessel. Louisiana
was heavily damaged in the last US attack against the Mobile Naval Base in 1927, and after the armistice was inspected and found to be not worth rebuilding. She was decommissioned and scrapped a year later.
Rio Grande class (CSA):
The last CSN pre-dreadnoughts; the Rio Grande
class was transitional in many ways – they were the last to utilize military-style pole masts and the superstructure layout that was first seen with the Courageous
class of 1900, and were the first turbine-powered battleships built by the Confederacy. Originally intended to be a class of three ships, due to cost concerns and an increasingly vocal faction of the CS Navy that argued all battleships designed before HMS Dreadnought
were obsolete, only the class ship was authorized. CSS Rio Grande
(B-13) was laid down in 1905, launched in 1907, and commissioned a year later.
was 454 feet long overall, with an 80 foot beam and a nominal draft of 27 feet. She displaced 17,990 tons normal and 19,410 tons full load. She was armed with four Mk.VII 12”/45 guns in two twin turrets fore and aft, eight 9.2”/45 Mk.IV secondary guns in four twin wing turrets, sixteen 6”/45 Mk.VIII guns in hull casemates, eight 3”/50 Mk.III’s in open deck mounts, and three 18” submerged torpedo tubes. Rio Grande
was a quad-shaft design and was powered by four Parsons direct-drive steam turbines built under license by the firm of Wilkerson-Chadwick and produced a combined 28,420 shaft horsepower. She was capable of 21 knots and had a range of 8,000 nautical miles. Armor comprised an 11” belt, 3” deck, 12” main turrets and barbettes, 9” secondary turrets, 7” casemates, and a 12” conning tower. Crew complement was 878.
The most powerful ship in the CS Navy when she entered service; Rio Grande
was immediately sent into combat and during Second Hawaii, became the flagship of what remained of First Battle Fleet after Admiral Mayfield transferred his flag there following the loss of CSS Mississippi
. Emerging from the conflict unscathed, Rio Grande
remained flagship of the entire CSN and was considered the “Pride of the Navy”. Beloved by her crews, who nicknamed the ship “the Riverboat”; Rio Grande
remained the most powerful ship in the Confederate Navy for only two more years – until the commissioning of CSS Georgia
in 1910. Despite being rendered immediately obsolete by the new dreadnought, the ship was still a valuable asset and was completely rebuilt beginning in 1919. When she re-commissioned in 1921, she had new oil-fired boilers and a completely new superstructure with tripod masts and her three funnels had been trucked into one larger funnel.
With the outbreak of the War of the Americas in 1923, the Riverboat saw considerable action – participating in nearly every major battle, and although damaged on several occasions, was widely considered a lucky ship. After the war, Rio Grande
continued in service as part of the smaller postwar navy dictated under the terms of the Treaty of Montreal until 1939, when she was finally retired. The announcement to scrap the ship met with such an outcry – both from naval personnel and the general public – that instead, she was moored permanently in Mobile as a memorial and museum – where the “Riverboat” can still be visited today.
Next up: Georgia