USS Texas, photochrom print c. 1898
Along with the Army, the Navy began to modernize in the 1880s. Alfred Thayer Mahan, a professor at the Naval War College, published The Influence of Seapower on History, 1660 – 1783 in 1890 , which led the way in changing views of the navy ‘ s mission. The Navy changed its main purview from continental protection to explicit seapower or, in simple terms, from isolation to imperialism, which demanded overseas coaling stations and overseas involvement. During this era the Navy altered its strategy for coastal defense. The USS Texas and Maine, laid down in 1888 and 1889, were designed to extend coastal defense 200 miles out to sea, beyond the range of the monitors that first entered service during the Civil War. Beginning with the Indiana – class battleships (commissioned 1895 – 7), the Navy assigned all subsequent battleships to squadrons and fleets rather than to defend particular coastal locations (George 1998).
The U. S. Navy had earlier constructed two dwarf turret ships that might be termed battleships, Texas (to a British design) and Maine (laid down in 1888 and 1889, respectively). Texas displaced only 6,650 tons and mounted only two 12-inch main battery guns. Maine, even less promising at 6,315 tons, mounted four 10-inch main guns and was actually originally designed to carry a small spread of sail. Both battleships carried their main armament in the now-discredited echelon sponsoned arrangement to give ahead-fire- again, presumably for ramming.