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Author Topic: USS Texas BB-35 BATTLESHIP  (Read 2766 times)

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Offline DoggyDaddy

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« on: April 01, 2011, 01:21:55 am »
USS Texas BB-35:   Once touted as the most powerful weapon on the planet, the nearly century-old battlewagon has endured some 60 years as an historic relic moored in the brackish Houston Ship Channel, corrosion from water outside and inside munching at its steel and patchwork repairs. ―Our boat‘s been sitting in the water and rusting away, so we get it out of the water,‖ says Andy Smith, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department‘s manager of the battleship site east of Houston. That‘s the goal as work finally is beginning to permanently remove the Texas from water by constructing a unique dry berth for the 573-foot-long, 34,000-ton vessel. It‘s the most complex project ever for the parks agency and isn‘t likely to be complete until late this decade. Texas voters three years ago approved a bond package that included $25 million to save the ship moored since 1948 at the equally historic San Jacinto Battleground. The project also is being designed to not repeat the cycle of past repairs that cost millions of dollars but failed to ensure the long-term future of the ship launched in 1912. ―It‘s not going to be done again to this vessel,‖ Neil Thomas, project manager for the agency‘s infrastructure division, says of the overhaul. ―We‘ve got one shot, and we‘ve got to do it right.‖ The Navy has no battleships in its fleet. Eight remain afloat.
They are:
   Texas, commissioned March 1914. Transferred to the state of Texas in 1948 as a permanent memorial on the Houston Ship Channel.
   North Carolina, commissioned April 1941. Dedicated as memorial in 1962 at Wilmington, N.C.
   Massachusetts, commissioned May 1942. Transferred to the Massachusetts Memorial Committee and preserved as a memorial in 1965 at Fall River, Mass.
   Alabama, commissioned August 1942. Transferred to the state of Alabama in 1964 for use as a memorial at Mobile, Ala.
   Iowa, commissioned May 1943. Berthed since 2001 in Suisan Bay, San Francisco, Calif., as part of the Reserve Fleet, also known as the Navy's "ghost fleet." Two groups are vying to obtain the ship as a museum berthed in California.
   New Jersey, commissioned May 1943. Donated in 2000 to Home Port Alliance of Camden, N.J., for use as a museum.
   Missouri, commissioned June 1944. Opened as a museum in 1999 at the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
   Wisconsin, commissioned April 1944. Moored at the National Maritime Center in downtown Norfolk, Va., and open to the public since 2001.

The department signed a contract 26 OCT with AECOM, a worldwide architectural and engineering firm, to design a dry berth for the Texas. Teams involved in the project met aboard the ship for the first time earlier this month. Some topographic surveys and soil tests are under way and a preliminary design from the firm is expected by next spring. Public comment, compliance with environmental assessments and government agencies and regulations could take another two years. Construction bidding is expected by mid-2014 with project completion anticipated by summer of 2017. Smith said a couple of vessels in England have been dry berthed but nothing like the magnitude of the Texas, commissioned in 1914 and the oldest of the eight remaining American battleships. It‘s the last the Dreadnought class, patterned after the British battleship that featured unprecedented speed and armaments at the turn of the 20th century.
In World War I, it served as U.S. flagship in the British Grand Fleet. In 1940, it was named flagship of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and participated in D-Day in 1944. It experienced casualties when hit by German artillery off France, then provided support for World War II battles at Iwo Jima and Okinawa in the Pacific, using its main battery of 10 14-inch guns to fire 1,500-pound shells up to 12 miles . It was decommissioned in 1948 and came under care of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. A berth was carved out on what was known as Santa Anna Slough, a swamp that empties into the Houston Ship Channel. The muddy acreage is where Gen. Sam Houston and his army of Texans in 1836 defeated Mexican Gen. Santa Anna to win Texas‘ independence and it‘s across the channel from one of the world‘s largest petrochemical complexes. ―You have one of the most significant battlefields on the North American continent with one of the most significant naval ships in the world,‖ Smith said. ―You could argue that both definitely are one of a kind.‖
Thomas described the task for project architects as ―variations of a boat in the bathtub and getting the water out of the bathtub.‖ One early suggestion was putting the Texas on a floating barge. That was dismissed after considering the ship is 120 feet tall from top to keel and would damage the look of the battlefield it shares. ―One of the things we want to do is respect the context,‖ Thomas said. ―We have to be sensitive to the fact that the ship itself is the artifact, but it‘s actually sitting in a sea of artifacts. So that brings a whole other level of complexity and care we have to take because we‘re certainly not in the business of saving one artifact at the expense of the other. " There is also an environmental concern if the site — a wetland — is drained and turned into a dry area. About 100,000 people a year visit the ship, which should be less costly to maintain when it‘s permanently out of the water. Voters who approved the $25 million in bonds showed they wanted the Texas preserved, Smith said. ―We want to make sure that money is spent well, that we do the right thing that is permanent," he said. ― "We talk about how to preserve the ship for the next 100, 200 years. We‘re not talking 10, 15, 20, 50 years.'
[Source: Associated Press Michael Graczyk article 28 Nov 2010 ++]

The Battleship TEXAS is the last dreadnought in existence in the world, a veteran of Vera Cruz (1914) and both World Wars, and is credited with the introduction and innovation of advances in gunnery, aviation and radar. Having been designed in the first decade of the 20th century, (keel laid in 1911 and completed in 1914), and having seen action in some of the most intense and critical campaigns of WWII, she is an important piece of our naval and maritime history.
Joe Kleinsmith
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