The month of June, 2012, was not kind to the Battleship TEXAS, which recently turned 100 yrs. old.
It all started early Saturday morning on the 9th of June when staff arrived at work and immediately noticed something was wrong. The vessel was sitting awkwardly in her slip. So much water entered the ship that it started noticeably listing to port.
The ship was closed to the public for a few days and finally opened back up only to find several more very serious leaks and had to be shut down again.
Ship staff was hoping to reopen it to visitors in time for the Fourth of July, but unfortunately the ship had to remain closed for another week.
Saturday, July 7th the TEXAS reopened to the public, however, the lower decks will remain closed to the public at least through next month as crews work to remove oil. Officials have quoted repair costs have already reached close to $1 million and are expected to rise.
Texas Parks and Wildlife department has been considering a dry berth of the ship to help prevent future water damage but that solution would be a costly one, with estimated figures in the tens of millions of dollars.
But for this century-old vessel, the brackish water she sits in will continue to corrode her hull and do much more damage if she isn't moved to dry land.
Donations toward the preservation of the 100-year-old battleship, the oldest surviving of her kind, are welcome. Volunteering for and/or attending Texas BROADSIDE! is a great way to give a little to the TEXAS and have fun doing it.
The Battleship TEXAS has suffered from the worst leaks that she has experienced in the last fifteen years. Texas Parks & Wildlife (TPWD) had to close the TEXAS to the public temporarily for repairs, with a cost already exceeding $1 million.
Moving the ship is not feasible, a fact underscored by the recent situation. Marine surveys by outside experts Proceanic (2008) and AECOMM (2011) strongly recommended against towing the ship any significant distance, particularly into open water or outside of Galveston Bay and the ship channel.
This is why TPWD has been exploring a permanent solution to dry berth the ship on site. In October 2010 TPWD contracted for preliminary dry berthing design with AECOM, a global architecture and engineering design firm. This followed a long process involving input from many stakeholders.
The legislature and statewide voters in 2007 approved $25 million in bonds as part of Proposition 4 to restore the battleship. The Battleship TEXAS Foundation (BTF) committed to contributing another $4 million, resulting in a total project budget of $29 million. As of July 1, after design studies and other expenses, there was $23.9 million remaining in the Battleship TEXAS project budget.
AECOM submitted estimates on four proposed dry berth options in September 2011 and a fifth in May 2012. These ranged from $33 million to $48 million for the dry-berth alone, plus an additional estimated cost of approximately $23 million for the necessary ship repairs to allow it to be placed on the berth.
With dry berth options far exceeding available funds, TPWD and BTF have agreed to approach the Legislative Budget Board to seek permission to use the remaining $23.9 million to 1) repair to the hull and structure of the ship to minimize flooding events, maximize her stability and prolong the amount of time she can remain in the wet, and 2) outfit the ship with adequate pumping capacity to address the inevitable flooding events that will continue to plague the ship. Since the ship cannot be safely towed to dry dock, the repairs will have to be made in place.
All four members of the Harris County delegation of the Texas House of Representatives sent TPWD a joint letter in 2007 stating "The dry berthing of the Battleship
TEXAS is imperative…we feel the battleship's current location is the most favorable preservation location." During the 2007 legislative session when Proposition 4 was considered, there was significant discussion about battleship restoration and funding, but no legislative directive to move the ship.
With admission and merchandise revenue approaching $1 million annually and attendance consistently around 100,000 visitors each year, the TEXAS is one of the most popular destinations in the state park system.