I’ve previously posted about the christening of the latest USS Texas, the second member of the Virginia class of submarines. In that post, I briefly mentioned one of her predecessors, the battleship Texas. The Dallas Morning News did a feature piece today on the aging vessel, describing the dire condition and expensive needs she faces (registration required, try bugmenot.com).
Age, relentless saltwater corrosion and tight budgets are doing what no bombs, torpedoes or bullets could â€“ destroying the Battleship Texas.
Sixteen years after the state spent $14 million to help preserve it, the nearly century-old Texas â€“ the only remaining battleship to survive World Wars I and II â€“ needs an overhaul to keep it from rusting away.
“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. “There is corrosion at the water line. We’re continuing to experience problems that cause us concern. And the ship, given its age, is pretty fragile.”
This ship has quite the storied past, serving significantly in both World War I and II.
The Texas is the oldest of the eight remaining American battlewagons and the last of the Dreadnought class, patterned after the British battleship that featured unprecedented speed and armaments at the turn of the 20th century. 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 Pacific support for World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Alas! The current outlook for the Texas is not good, with funding not the only issue.
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.
The ship again needs extensive renovations, but there is no money or a convenient place for repairs.
“A ship like that really needs significant dry-dock repairs every eight to 10 years, so we’re really past our cycle,” Mr. 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, Mr. Whiston said. Park officials hope to remedy that with a budget request during the legislative session that begins in January.
But since the last round of repairs, the Galveston dry-dock where the Texas was towed closed, and there’s doubt any shipyard in Texas can do the job. Officials are also not sure that the ship could survive a move.
“It’s fine floating in one place, but when you put a ship of that age in open water, that stress, we were concerned we may lose it,” Mr. Whiston said.
One proposal calls for building a dam around where the ship’s now docked, along with a dry dock, allowing engineers to remove the water as needed to make repairs. Another idea is to permanently raise the ship from the water on a kind of cradle.
It would be a tragedy to lose this piece of our state and national history. I honestly do not see the Lone Star State failing to take care of this lady, though. At least that’s what I’m hoping.
More on the battleship Texas can be found here.