The Battleship Texas was involved in WW I and WW II, but her first assignment was to support U.S. forces during the Tampico Incident in Mexico.
During the Mexican Revolution (1910 to 1920), there were around 50,000 U.S. citizens in Mexico due to investments by U.S. firms in the local oil industry. The Tampico Incident started out as a minor incident involving nine U.S. sailors and Mexican forces loyal to Mexican dictator General Huerta.
On April 9, 1914 the sailors were transferring 440 gallons of gasoline (in drums) from ashore to a small boat that would take the drums to the USS Dolphina just offshore. The incident developed into a breakdown of diplomatic relations between the two countries. As a result, the United States invaded the port city of Veracruz, occupying it for more than six months.
President Wilson ordered a number of U.S. ships of the Pacific Fleet based in San Diego to sail to Mazatlan, Mexico to protect U.S. interests on Mexico’s west coast. On April 22, The USS Iris, USS Cheyenne, and torpedo boats USS Whipple, Paul Jones, Perry, Stewert, and Truxtun departed San Diego for Mazatlan.
President Wilson saw the Tampico Incident as an opportunity to put pressure on a government he felt was undemocratic. On April 20, 1914, Wilson ordered Rear Admiral Fletcher to land a force at Veracruz to seize the customs house there in retaliation for the incident. The battleships USS Florida, USS Utah, and the transport USS Prairie carrying 350 Marines were dispatched to Veracruz on Mexico’s east coast. The USS San Francisco, Chester and Prairie also provided gunfire support. The Tampico Incident resulted in many military skirmishes and casualties between U.S. and Mexican forces.
Due to the intensity of the situation, the new Battleship Texas put to sea on May 13th and headed directly to Veracruz without the usual shakedown cruise and post shakedown repair period to support the American forces ashore. Eventually there were 71 U.S. military ships operating in Mexican waters.
The U.S. occupation of Veracruz resulted in widespread anti-American sentiment among Mexican residents. By May 4, a total of 71 U.S. Navy ships were operating in Mexican waters. The U.S. warships on Mexico’s west coast and east coast were used to evacuate U.S. nationals, taking them to refugee centers in San Diego; Texas City; and New Orleans.