Battleship Texas: Preserving an Invaluable Place in History


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What is the status of the projects on the ship right now?

Updated 10/17

  • First round of critical structural repairs - Completed in 2015
    While this round of repairs created more structural stability and watertight integrity in the ship’s stern and under her engines, there was not enough funding to cover all the necessary repairs.
  • Multiple leaks and emergency repairs – Fall 2016 and Summer 2017
    As the ship sits in brackish water, her hull continues to corrode away. The structural repair projects have created more stability with the ship’s interior structure, it is not possible to address leaks in the hull until the ship is removed from the water.
  • Second round of critical structural repairs currently underway - (target completion late 2018)
    The second phase of repairs will continue to address the repairs that are needed in order to make the ship structurally sound enough to be removed from the water.
  • Emergency diesel generator, additional pump installation, and electrical upgrades currently underway  - (target completion late 2018)
    Until TPWD gets the funds to place the ship in a Dry Berth, improvements to the ship’s emergency power and pumping capacity are critical.

Project background

In 1948, Battleship Texas became the nation's first permanent battleship memorial museum, and she was secured in a slip off the Houston Ship Channel adjacent to the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site. A veteran of both world wars, she is one-of-a-kind as the only remaining dreadnought. Over the last sixty years, Battleship Texas has been subject to continuous environmental and physical threats while resting in the shallow, brackish waters of the ship channel. To protect and preserve this unique National Historic Landmark, a new dry berth is envisioned to provide her with a permanent home.

In 2008, the Texas Legislature appropriated $25 million for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to dry berth the Battleship Texas. In 2009, the Legislative Budget Board approved funding for the dry berth project, provided  the ship was dry berthed in her current location adjacent to the San Jacinto Battleground. The Battleship Texas Foundation (BTF) pledged an additional $4 million toward the dry berth project.

With this funding, TPWD was tasked with accomplishing three things:

  • Make only those repairs necessary to get the ship into a dry berth.
  • Design and construct a dry berth.
  • Place the ship into the dry berth and make her presentable to the public.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is currently moving forward with a second round of critical vessel repairs to the Battleship Texas (BB-35). These repairs are essential to prepare the ship’s structure for dry berth, and supplement the first round of significant and critical structural repairs that occurred between 2013 and 2015. TPWD is also taking steps to reduce the impact of increasing leaks in the ship’s hull caused by the deteriorating effects of the water around the ship. TPWD will continue to work closely with the Battleship Texas Foundation and other partners to ensure the best possible care of the ship. We will continue to explore the full range of options available for caring for the ship in a sustainable manner. We will also continue to offer the best possible visitor experience. Throughout the repair process, TPWD has been careful to comply with federal regulations set forth by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). The recent flooding incidents served as a strong reminder that the condition of the Battleship Texas is degrading faster and faster, and remains in need of significant repair efforts whether or not she is ever placed into a dry berth.

How do the vessel repairs affect the battleship and the outcome of the dry berth project?

  • First, when the repair project is complete, there will be very little, if any, changes to the ship that will be visibly identifiable. Similar to the first significant repair project, the repairs to be done are in the interior of the ship where the general public does not have access.
  • Second, repairs to the ship do not rule out a dry berth option. All  the repairs are necessary regardless of whether the ship stays in her current wet berth or is eventually moved to a dry berth.
  • Finally, there will still be repairs necessary to the ship when the latest repair project is completed (i.e. when the available funding is exhausted). Even so, TPWD will be significantly closer to completing the charge of making the necessary repairs required to get the ship into a protected dry berth.

What do the necessary ship repairs entail?

  • The ship is a historic artifact and a U.S. National Historic Landmark. Great care must be taken to ensure that the cultural significance of the ship is not compromised. Ship repairs will work toward stabilizing the Battleship Texas in accordance with the U.S. Department of Interior's "Standards for Historic Vessel Preservation," which define stabilization as: "the act or process of applying measures designed to arrest, retard, or prevent deterioration of a vessel, and to assure its structural integrity. This may include the rendering of the vessel weather resistant and watertight. The essential form of the vessel shall be maintained during this process."
  • As available funding permits, the ship will be made as watertight and weather-resistant as appropriate and approved. While a list of prioritized repairs has been developed by the project team, the estimated costs for those repairs are greater than the funding currently available, even after the completion of the second round of repairs. Repairs are being made in order of priority, and will continue until the funding is exhausted. The remainder of the repairs can be addressed if and when additional funding is provided.
  • As the battleship cannot be moved for the repairs, all repairs must be executed with the ship in her current location. Although these repairs are essential for the long-term preservation of the ship, they do not address the leaks in the ship’s hull.
  • It is not possible to fix leaks in the ship’s hull while the ship sits in the water - dry berthing the ship will allow TPWD to address the leaks. 

What can be done about leaks until repairs are finished and dry berth is funded?

Since 2012, leaks in the ship’s hull have caused periodic catastrophic flooding aboard the ship. These flooding events will continue because it is not possible to fix the leaks that have occurred in the ship’s hull while the ship sits in the water. Temporary patches have been installed to help stem the flow of water, but these are not permanent repairs.

Until the ship can be removed from the water for hull repairs, the only recourse available to TPWD staff is to continue to pump water off the ship as it leaks in. With the frequency and intensity of leaks increasing as the ship ages, TPWD is actively working to increase the pumping capacity on board.  To that end, a project was initiated in the summer of 2017 to upgrade the primary electric utility that services the ship and improve the main electrical distribution on the vessel, install an emergency diesel generator with an automatic transfer switch that has the capacity to run critical pumps on board in the event of a power outage during a leak event, and to add to the number pumps deployed inside the ship’s blister tanks.  The project is scheduled to be completed during the summer of 2018.

Dry berth still the plan; repairs necessary first

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 In 2010, TPWD hired AECOM Technical Services, Inc. (AECOM) to survey the condition of the battleship, provide preliminary design concepts for a dry berth, and conduct the studies necessary to comply with federal environmental and historic preservation regulations.

While conducting the conceptual design, TPWD carried out the studies and processes necessary to meet the requirements of NEPA, as well as Section 106 of NHPA. As part of these two processes, TPWD conducted proactive stakeholder outreach, including a stakeholder workshop, regular consultation meetings (as required by Section 106), and a large-scale public open house. TPWD also put out a formal call for alternatives from the public, but no viable or reasonable design alternatives were received.

 

 

In 2011, the project team finalized a Conceptual Design Report that outlines two significant findings:

      • Key components of the vessel are in much worse condition than anticipated.
      • The cost for each of the dry berth concepts greatly exceed the available budget for the project.

 TPWD determined that the available budget for the dry berth project would be insufficient to fund even the vessel repairs, let alone vessel repairs and construction of the dry berth. Therefore, TPWD was in need of additional funding sources to protect and preserve the battleship.

In June 2012, the Battleship Texas began taking on water at rates as high as 2,000 gallons per minute due to leaks in her fragile hull. TPWD, together with the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Texas Historical Commission, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and the other stakeholders for the dry berth project, determined the most critical repairs necessary for the ship and conducted those repairs. To finance this urgent undertaking, TPWD utilized funds originally allocated for the Battleship Texas Dry Berth Project.

Battleship Timeline

Structural Repairs - Part 1

The first round of critical structural repairs began in 2013. The selected contractor, Taylor Marine Construction, was tasked with repairing the critical components of the internal structure of the ship that had severely deteriorated since her days of active service. For example, the ship's two 1,100-ton engines (together weighing over 4.4 million pounds) were resting on frames that were approximately 80 to 90 percent disintegrated. The degraded steel frames under the heavy machinery were cut out completely and replaced to original specification where possible, and augmented with "doubler" frames otherwise. These "doublers" were cut to the original specification and attached to the existing deteriorated frames and adjacent steel. While most of the work did not involve the replacement of the outer hull plating, the ship's resistance to flooding has been greatly improved by these internal repairs. This is because the replaced frames create a system of isolated watertight spaces within the hull of the ship. If one space floods due to a hull leak, the water is confined and unable to flow into adjacent areas. The movement of water within the ship through the existing degraded framework was a major problem during the flooding events of summer 2012, adding significant cost and time to addressing the events. In January 2015, Taylor Marine Construction completed all of the work they were contracted to execute on the ship. Unfortunately, there was not enough funding to make all the necessary repairs.

Structural Repairs - Part 2

In the summer of 2015, the Texas Legislature allocated another $25 million for the second phase of structural repairs. The second phase of work primarily targets those critical repairs originally identified in 2012, but were not executed with the first project due to funding. In 2016 TPWD bid the second phase of work and subsequently awarded the contract to Taylor Marine Construction, the same contractor that performed the initial phase of repairs. The repairs included in this second round of structural repairs will occur in the most aft portions of the ship, most notably in the Steering Gear Room, D-13 Trimming Tank, Aft Emergency Diesel Generator Room, Dynamo Condenser Room, and miscellaneous tanks, trunks and storerooms. The second phase of repair work is slated to be completed late summer of 2018.

Once the second phase of repairs is completed, the combined result of the 2 phases of work will be that the majority of the most deteriorated structural elements of the ship aft of the Engine Rooms will have been addressed. The only remaining major critical structural repairs, will be the framing under the Boiler Rooms. Neither of the structural repair projects, however, have addressed the fragile state of the ship’s hull. Permanent repairs to the hull can only be accomplished with the hull in the dry.

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