The USS Texas, America’s last existing dreadnought, is in danger. Docked in the brackish waters of Buffalo Bayou east of Houston, the hull of the battleship is corroded and leaking, which threatens its existence as a Texas landmark.
For information on the Battleship Texas and to sign a petition supporting preservation of the battleship, visit comeandsaveit.com.
“It’s been sitting there for 70 years,” said Bruce Bramlett, executive director of the Battleship Texas Foundation. “We’re really down to this moment.”
The Texas, the only battleship still in existence that fought in both world wars, is credited for advancements in radar, aviation, and gunnery. It was launched in 1912, commissioned in 1914, and is now docked at Battleship Texas State Historic Site in La Porte, near the state historic site commemorating the Battle of San Jacinto.
To bring attention to the state of the ship, the foundation is hosting parties at breweries in Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas as part of its “Come and Save It” campaign. Each date offers a Battleship Texas ice sculpture, an opportunity to walk on water with a contraption built by students at Lamar University, and a life-size game of Battleship, as well as a traveling exhibit of artifacts from the ship.
There will be merchandise for sale, giveaways, and an opportunity to sign an online petition that automatically sends an email to several public officials asking them to support the battleship’s preservation. Foundation members estimate they will need $60 million to construct a dry berth and move the battleship safely to land, and they hope the state of Texas will fund the project.
“In our opinion, the battleship belongs to the state of Texas, and to me that means it belongs to the people of Texas,” Bramlett said. “So my thought is let the people decide what they want to do with their ship.”
The foundation held the first party on July 21 at Karbach Brewing Co. in Houston and has three more scheduled to take place by the end of the year.
The foundation offers an overnight program for kids that teaches them about the ship and the battles it fought in as well as hard hat tours that explore the areas of the ship that have not yet been restored. Self-guided tours are available every day except Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas at the Battleship Texas State Historic Site in La Porte, about 30 miles east of Houston.
Since the late ’80s, the battleship has undergone more than $70 million of repairs, Bramlett says. If the state does not fund the move to land, it would cost over $30 million to dismantle and dispose of the ship. To Bramlett, it’s a no-brainer.
“There’s great history in this state,” he said. “What a shame it would be if we ever let the Battleship Texas get away from us.”