TPWD News Release — Nov. 10, 2009
AUSTIN, Texas — The Battleship TEXAS Foundation has donated $2 million to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to go toward constructing a dry berth for the aging landmark vessel moored at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in LaPorte.
Last week’s presentation by foundation Chairman Tony Gregory to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission is part of a foundation pledge of $4 million in private funds to match $25 million in Proposition 4 voter-approved bonds in 2007 to dry berth the Battleship Texas. The project involves minor structural repairs necessary for towing the ship a short distance, construction of the dry berth and returning the dreadnought to its park side location, where it was first berthed in 1948. The Battleship TEXAS Foundation is pledged to donate another $2 million to TPWD next year.
The Texas Public Finance Authority and Bond Review Board in May of this year approved the sale of $25 million in bonds authorized by the 80th Texas Legislature to help finance the $29 million project. TPWD has received proposals from engineering firms seeking approval of qualifications to bid on the dry berthing project.
The Battleship TEXAS, launched in 1912, is the only surviving U.S. warship that saw action in both world wars and was the nation’s first battleship memorial museum. Saltwater is slowly corroding the aging steel hull of the almost 100-year-old battleship, forcing the pumping on average of nine tons of water out of the hull every day. Dry berthing the ship out of the salty water will go a long way in preventing future corrosion of its hull and keeping repair costs to a minimum.
The exact timing of the battleship’s repairs and construction of the dry berth facility are not yet known due to a number of variables, such as environmental assessments, according to a TPWD staff briefing at Wednesday. Staff updated the TPW Commission on the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site development master plan and battleship dry berth projects.
Current plans calls for beginning work this coming January to begin the resource clearance process so designs can be finalized for the dry berth facility. That part of the project is expected to take much of the next two years. If there are no serious environmental issues raised, construction on the dry berth, which is projected to take a minimum of 18 months, could begin as early as January 2012. If all goes as planned, commissioners learned the dry berth project could be completed as early as fall of 2013.
In addition to the dry berth project, TPWD has identified five Battleship TEXAS capital repair projects that are currently unfunded. The estimated $27.1 million in repairs include replacing the wooden deck and steel plating, hull plating, superstructure, cranes, masts, and heating and air conditioning systems, as well as upgrading the ship’s electrical service, although the need and cost of these projects will be re-evaluated after completion of the dry berth project.
The staff report also noted that TPWD has applied to the U. S. Department of the Interior for a $2.6 million federal Coastal Impact Assistance grant to rebuild 1,100 feet of the deteriorating sea wall along the Houston Ship Channel that fronts San Jacinto Battleground.