Battleship Texas safely arrives in Galveston for repairs
After years of planning, Wednesday was finally moving day for the Battleship Texas.
A pair of tugboats towed the Texas from its longtime resting place near the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site to Gulf Copper Shipyard in Galveston, where it will undergo major repairs that are expected to take more than a year.
The ship is a piece of history – a war machine from a recent but bygone era. The Texas supported U.S. troops on D-Day and Iwo Jima, and it’s the only remaining American vessel to have served in both world wars. It was the first ship to become a permanent museum, after it was decommissioned in 1948.
But the Texas also leaks. For years, its stewards have treated cracks in its hull with piecemeal fixes. A permanent solution required hauling the 28,000-ton ship to a dry berth, where it could be lifted out of the water and repaired.
Work on Wednesday started before 3 a.m., when crews got to work unhitching the ship from its last remaining moorings. Those final preparations took more than three hours, but by about 6:30, the ship started to slip through the darkness and into the Houston Ship Channel.
People like Marian Sparks of Baytown assembled along the route to see the ship off.
“I am blessed that I could be here,” Sparks told Houston Public Media. “The ship … is amazing inside. And I want it to be here so bad.”
Baytown is one of three communities – along with Beaumont and Galveston – vying to be the new home of the battleship.
The Texas Legislature budgeted $35 million for its repairs in 2019. But the Battleship Texas Foundation got a mandate with that money: The ship needs to support itself as a tourist attraction. In order to support itself financially, the ship needs to attract more visitors than it did at its old site in La Porte.
“I think we have a good chance of it being here,” Sparks said.
The Texas’ trip was over by 3:30 in the afternoon. Applause and honks from boats filled the air as it arrived at the Gulf Copper shipyard.
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