Issue Date: October 11, 2004
An overhaul, Texas-sized
Officials fight to preserve battleship
Age, relentless saltwater corrosion and tight budgets are doing what no bombs, torpedoes or bullets could — destroying the Battleship Texas.
Sixteen years after the state spent $14 million to help preserve it, the nearly century-old Texas — the only remaining battleship to survive World Wars I and II — needs an overhaul.
“The ship is in need of significant repair,” said Steve Whiston, director of the infrastructure division of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The department maintains the 573-foot-long, 34,000-ton vessel in a berth on the Houston Ship Channel.
Texas curator Barry Ward agreed, adding that the ship is worth preserving.
“If you are going to acknowledge you’re going to keep some historic ships, there is a very strong argument this is at least as good, if not the best, one to keep,” he said.
“This [ship] goes from the very beginning of the age of flight through the nuclear age,” he said.
The Texas is the oldest of the eight remaining American battlewagons and the last of the Dreadnought-type battleships. Launched in 1912 and commissioned two years later, the Texas was touted as the world’s most powerful weapon.
In World War I, it served as U.S. flagship in the British Grand Fleet. In 1940, it was named flagship of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, took part in D-Day in 1944, later experienced casualties when hit by German artillery off France and provided support for World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
The Texas was decommissioned in 1948.
In 1988, the ship underwent its first major restoration in 40 years. It was towed to a Galveston shipyard where the hull essentially was replaced.
“A ship like that really needs significant dry-dock repairs every eight to 10 years, so we’re really past our cycle,” Whiston said.
The Texas Legislature approved about $12 million for bonds to pay for renovations, but didn’t provide a way to pay off the bonds, Whiston said. Park officials hope to remedy that with a budget request during the legislative session that begins in January.
For all you'd ever want to know about the Battleship Texas, check out users3.ev1.net/~cfmoore.
They are doing the same thing with the USS Alabama BB-55 down in Mobile. Last I heard, the hull was about the thickness of a dime, at least that's what some of the workers were saying.
Pretty cool thing to spend the night on a battleship, we were there with the Boy Scouts, fun time, although no one got any sleep.