Thursday, June 14, 2012

Battleship Texas slowly sinks, lists to port

Permanent dry berth solution sought

San Jacinto – Crews are struggling to keep U.S.S. Texas – BB35 – afloat after a harrowing week that saw what has been steady leakage of about 9 tons of seawater per day for several years turn into a torrent of about 1,000 gallons per minute.

When crews came to work on Saturday morning a week ago, she was down in her slip, listing to port and her engine rooms awash in the brackish water of Buffalo Bayou, where she has been permanently moored at the San Jacinto Battleground since 1948.

The ship is leaking through her hull adjacent to massive oil tanks which were added in 1925 when the Navy converted the triple expansion propulsion system from its former coal-fired design. Skimmers are busy scooping up the bunker oil, which floats on top of the brackish waters of the Houston Ship Channel.

According to Ship Manager Andy Smith, the mission is to preserve the old New York Class dreadnought in good enough shape to occupy a planned dry berth at her present location.

The Texas is a study in Naval firsts. The original Texas, commissioned in the late 19th century, was the first warship with a completely metal hull.

Texas was the first warship ever to be designated a National Historic Landmark. In her day, she was a weapon system feared throughout the world as cutting edge, no less than a stealth bomber or a intercontinental ballistic missile. Her class of war vessel was the subject of international treaties between the nation states of Britain, Germany, Japan, and the United States.

She was also the first warship to be fitted with anti-aircraft guns, the first battlewagon to launch an airplane, and to be outfitted with radar.

Time and the ravages of the sea are taking a steady toll on the warship, which was launched in 1912 at Newport News, Virginia, commissioned in 1914, and dispatched to stand by under the orders of President Woodrow Wilson at Tampico during the “Veracruz Incident” in which an Admiral forced the Huerta Administration to apologize and render a 21-gun salute to Navy vessels standing by in support of soldiers and Marines who intervened on behalf of a beleaguered city.

From that point, Texas went on to earn 5 battle stars, serving in convoy duty during World War One, then shelling the Normandy coast at the D Day Invasion before rotating to the Pacific Theater, where she served in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is working to adopt a design and an environmental impact study for moving the ship to a permanent dry berth without altering her basic structure and keeping her in a condition to stay afloat in spite of all alterations.

All Hail the mighty U.S.S. Texas!(click here)


  1. I am so pissed that they haven't taken better care of them..bastids.

  2. Yo, Granny. Them bunker oil tanks should have been cleaned out. NSFO is very, very corrosive. After 87 years, it's eating through the tank, the hull - everything. - The Legendary

  3. I'm surprised she's still a float.