Remember the Texas! The United States in World War II (an alternate history)

Prologue and Chapter One (part one)
Prologue
In June 1941 the separate wars in China and Europe already known as World War II exploded into a truly global struggle as the United States and Soviet Union were both drawn fully into the fray. It is generally known the true consequences of this and the critical miscalculation that Germany made in expanding the struggle. While the German invasion of the Soviet Union was clearly and indeed obviously a fully developed and planned strategy (albeit ill considered), the incident that drew the United States fully into the war was not. Although the Nazis after the event claimed that its warship was acting in self-defense, it has become clear that it was major miscalculation by a commander that triggered the attack. Although in later years there has been revisionist looks that claimed conspiracy on the part of President Roosevelt and his advisors that used American warships as bait to trigger a German attack, this is inconsistent with the wealth of declassified material postwar and later showing that the Neutrality Patrol and indeed American escort of British convoys to the Mid Atlantic (as well as occupation of Iceland) were in part American defensive measures as well as a traditional American (and British) exercise of sea power to influence an advisory short of war. Much like the gunboats and cruisers of an earlier era were.

Chapter 1
A rainy day at sea in the mid-Atlantic Ocean in June …..

On June 19, 1941, the German submarine U-203 stalks the USS Texas near the Mid Ocean Point and edge of the American exclusion zone. Incorrectly identifying the American ship as a British R Class battleship in the poor visibility and high seas over a 20 hour period, the German U-Boat lucks into firing position when the Texas and her escorts zig zag directly into a good firing position. Kapitänleutnant Rolf Mützelburg orders four torpedoes to be launched and three hit, all on the battleship’s starboard side. The spread of the torpedoes results in hits in frames 12 and 128, neither of which are protected by the torpedo belt (which runs frames 15-127) and one torpedo hits her between frames 79 and 80, penetrating the belt and concussion and compression forces a breach into both number 1 and number 2 boiler rooms as fuel oil and water from the fresh water feed tanks are blown into the ship. The aft hit knocks out her propellers and rudder control, as well as causing flooding through the shaft alleys into both engine rooms. The forward hit causes a fire to break out in the paint locker, another fire in the windless room and heat forces an emergency flooding of forward 14 inch and 5 inch powder magazine. In a very few minutes it is clear the ship is doomed as she immediately comes to a halt and seas continue breaking over her already settling bow. Luckily the third boiler room remains in action, and thus power remains and thus communications are available. Captain Clarence N. Hinkamp (ironically a former submariner with the tours while an Ensign) is desperate to save his ship and refuses initially to order her abandoned. He does however call for assistance as there are 1,126 men aboard and evacuation in the current sea state is going to be highly risky. Already there are 140 casualties, including 35 dead. The USS Mayrant, a Benham class destroyer, is ordered to come alongside and begin taking off men and while the destroyers Trippe and Rhind hunt for the enemy and the destroyer Sims is ordered to stand by to evacuate the Texas if needed.

Meanwhile Mützelburg is doing his best to escape what he thinks are British destroyers after making what he believes is highly successful attack. He fails to spot the flags or other features identifying the ships as American before he fired and for most of the previous 20 hours conditions had prevented him from spotting anything but a faint shadow of the destroyers and partially obscured views of the battleship due to the heavy mist and he has thus made a series of faulty assumptions in his first patrol as a U-boat commander. He also is lucky in that lack of experience and sea conditions prevent the Americans from getting revenge, and his ship and crew will escape to fight another day. It is not until the next day that Mützelburg sends a message reporting attacking and possibly sinking a British R class battleship. By then of course the diplomatic damage to Germany is catastrophic.

Aboard the Texas, a new problem is developing. The pitching and rolling of the now drifting ship is causing considerable free effect motion of the water that has flooded her, and many of the seals of the watertight doors are beginning to fail because of age and lack of proper replacement during the cash strapped Depression era budget tight fistedness the Navy had to endure. It has been over a decade since her modernization, and her most recent refit installed the CXAM radar and added anti-aircraft guns, but did not see the comprehensive maintenance that would have helped her now. The ship is taking water from her stern, bow and the massive hole amidships, and within 15 minutes, it is clear that the ship cannot be saved. The Greer is now alongside, and she takes off 400 crew, including nearly all of the wounded. The battleship is now sinking quickly as water has reached the second deck and there is no longer time for the approaching Sims to pull alongside, while the Mayrant has had to back off to avoid running over men who are now going over the side into the water.

Torpedoed at 1631 hours, it has been almost 20 minutes since the Texas has been hit, and now seas are breaking over the main deck as she wallows and founders. The crew is streaming over the side into the heavy swells with many being washed over the side even before they are ready. It is also getting darker, as nautical twilight is only a few more minutes away and the sun is already setting and the gloom that has been present all day is making spotting survivors as they enter the water increasingly difficult. The obvious presence of a Uboat prevents the use of searchlights and only the men who had the presence of mind to grab a battle lantern or flashlight can be readily spotted. The Sims launches both her whale boat and a pair of lifeboats and does her best, and ultimately she picks up another 318 survivors. The Trippe and Rhind between them pick up another 18 that night but the sinking of the USS Texas has cost 460 American lives missing and presumed lost at sea.
 
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Comparison of USS Texas and HMS Ramilies
 

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Subscribed. Being from Texas, I have been on that ship several times. Terrible tragedy, it's current state of disrepair.
I live a mere 15 minues away. They are pumping in foam into her fuel tanks to keep her from losing more ground to flooding and eventually tow her to Mobile We will see how that works out

More as our current natural disaster allows for power, internet etc. The Texas Gulf Coast (and Galveston Bay area) did not design power plants and houses for cold temperate weather. We are more of a subtropical people....
 
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I live a mere 15 minues away. They are pumping in foam into her fuel tanks to keep her from losing more ground to flooding and eventually tow her to Mobile We will see how that works out

More as our current natural disaster allows for power, internet etc. The Texas Gulf Coast (and Galveston Bay area) did not design power plants and houses for cold temperate weather. We are more of a subtropical people....
Ah. I'm in Ft Worth, so not too far. Best of luck with the power situation!
 
This nearly happed so this is off to a very plausable start!
Authors note: Yes indeed. the difference is that spotting conditions were somewhat better, the German commander knew the Texas was a US warship (and STILL STALKED IT ANYWAY) and the Texas and group zigged instead of zagged and he couldn't get a shot

So a slight turn of fortune, somewhat worse visibility but a likely result as the Texas (an older dreadnought) was weaker in underwater protection than the Standard Battleships, much less the modern ones. Also takes into account the results of the assessment of the Pearl Harbor results where it was determined a lot of watertight door seals failed due to age and inadequate (due to funding problems) maintenance. In this scenario the Texas takes about the same damage as the Utah did at Pearl Harbor but merely sinks instead of capsizing
 

Geon

Donor
Hitler is going to hit the ceiling! U-Boat commanders had standing orders not to target American warships.
 

ShySusan

Gone Fishin'
why is she being towed to Mobile? I thought the plan was to fill in the docking area?
She may need stabilization work done in a dry dock before she can be permanently docked. The Patriots Point museum in Charleston is having a similar issue with the Yorktown. She needs work done below the waterline for long term preservation, but she's sitting in 20' of mud. Last I heard, they were considering building a caisson around her to do the work since it was cheaper than dredging out her berth and towing her to Norfolk. Not to mention it would allow her to remain open during the work
 
why is she being towed to Mobile? I thought the plan was to fill in the docking area?
most recent update

 
Yeah, but it's still gonna be Iron Crosses all around for the Captain and crew.
The Nazis cannot admit they screwed up nor would they. So of course they are going to spin a tale where the Americans attacked them and the brave Uboat commander defended himself

of course as of June 19 the commander is sure he sank the HMS Ramilies
 

Geon

Donor
The Nazis cannot admit they screwed up nor would they. So of course they are going to spin a tale where the Americans attacked them and the brave Uboat commander defended himself

of course as of June 19 the commander is sure he sank the HMS Ramilies
That still doesn't mean there won't be consequences for someone in the chain of command: I am thinking specifically of Doenitz. Raeder will see this as a perfect chance to at the least embarrass him in Hitler's eyes at worst have him fired.
 
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