ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

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ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Thanas » 2017-08-18 04:42pm

Houston Chronicle, with video at the link

Time short to save Battleship Texas, officials warn

She was at some of the most pivotal battles ever fought by Americans.

She escorted convoys across the ocean in 1941 and shelled the Axis-held beach at Normandy. She carried out bombardments at Okinawa, clearing the way for Army and Marine landings on the beaches. Her silhouette loomed ominous as she gave supportive fire at Iwo Jima, and her captain nearly grounded her to fire on German forces at Omaha beach. She was also tasked with carrying more than 4,000 troops safely home from the Pacific for demobilization in a mission that was called the "Magic Carpet."

Now, the Battleship Texas, the only remaining World War I-era dreadnought battleship, slowly decays in the salt water of the Houston Ship Channel and officials tasked with her wellbeing are making a plea to Texans: A ship that saved thousands of lives now needs the community to save her.

"Every once in a while, there will be a story about how the ship is listing or is taking on water," said Stephanie Croatt, assistant superintendent with the Battleship Texas. "Then people won't hear anything else about it and they'll assume the problem is fixed. The problem is not fixed.

"It will never be fixed in the ship's current condition."
The condition Croatt refers to deals with major weaknesses in the ship's hull - holes and cracks where the steel has eroded away - that require pumps to run 24 hours a day just to keep up with the amount of water the ship is taking on.
"We pump about 300,000 gallons of water a day out of the Battleship Texas," said Bruce Bramlett, executive director of the Battleship Texas Foundation. "There are places on the ship where the hull is so thin you can poke your finger through it. So we're constantly pumping water out and patching holes and the water is constantly seeping back in."

A Race Against Time
Each day, said Croatt, the ship is constantly taking on water, and each day, the pumps continually run to remove that water.
But what if a pump breaks? That, said Bramlett, can be a huge issue.
"We barely have enough pumping power to keep her out of the water now," he said. "Pumps regularly break, new holes are regularly eroded into her weakened hull and that's how you get into a bad situation. If we lose pumps, we're in big trouble."
Salt water on a ship's exterior is bad enough, said Capt. Terry Bragg, executive director of the USS North Carolina, a museum ship and memorial kept at the seaport of Wilmington, North Carolina. Once water gets into the ship, the damage is compounded.
"Salt water is going to damage any ship," said Bragg, "but there are precautions in place (specialized coatings) to help reduce that damage on the outside of the ship."

Those same protective coatings aren't in place inside the ship, he said, so once water gets inside, erosion can begin to happen much faster.
"Once water gets inside the ship, the effects can be devastating," said Bragg.
Since the early 1980s, crews have worked to patch holes and replace the steel in the hull of the Battleship Texas.
"There isn't really enough good steel left to patch holes," said Croatt. "We can't place patches over holes because the steel around those holes is weak and eroded. At this point, we're not dealing with 'if we run out of time' but 'when we run out of time,' and that timeframe will likely be in the very near future."

Funding for Dry Berthing
For years, the foundation has worked to get funding to save the ship.
So far, this funding has gone for repairs, but at this point, Bramlett says more direct and aggressive measures must be taken.
It sits as a testament, Croatt said, to when ships were engineered and designed with paper, pencils and slide rules in a time before Autocad and calculators.
"This ship was commissioned one year after the Titanic," Bramlett explained. "It's historic - a living museum - and in order to save it, we can't keep patching it.

"It needs to be dry berthed."

Dry berthing the ship, an estimated $40 million project, isn't necessarily an easy task. It must be repaired so that the hull is structurally sound enough to be moved. Then a system must be built around the hull so that water can be pumped out or let in as it's deemed necessary. Being able to control the water in contact with the ship is vital to its longevity, Bramlett said.
"Right now when we have a leak, we have divers feeling around in the dark trying to find and fix those leaks," he said. "Sometimes, the leaks are below the mudline - it's a terrible way to try and fix an issue. If we were able to control the water, it would be much easier - and cheaper in the long run - to fix these problems."

The Battleship Texas is owned by the state, which means the majority of funding is gained through legislative measures. Since the ship has been at its current home in the Houston Ship Channel, a total of about $68 million has been spent on its structural repairs, said Bramlett.
"If the state decides to do nothing and we finish this round of repairs and she just remains sitting in the water, she's going to have to be disposed of in the not-too-distant future. That ship is out of time," Bramlett said.

Disposing of the ship will cost an estimated $30 million, which doesn't count the money needed to remove the precious artifacts and store them safely, Bramlett said.
"If we have to scrap the Battleship Texas, no one is just going to say 'OK, take her away'," Bramlett said. "They're going to want to carefully remove and catalog the artifacts and historical property on the ship. Then those things are going to have to be stored for years. After several years have passed, people are going to say, 'Hey, we should build a museum and put these things in there.' But we already have a museum. It's sitting in our ship channel right now."

Bramlett said the cost of removing, storing and cataloging those pieces of history only to spend the money to build a new museum in the future would likely not exceed the cost of saving the ship, especially when taking into consideration the amount the state already has spent to repair her.
"So, let's say we do nothing and have to dispose of the ship. You add that $30 million or $40 million (disposal cost) to the $68 million we've already spent on her – that's a minimum of $98 million and at the end you've got no ship," Bramlett said. "But if we spend the $40 or $50 million we think it will take to dry berth it, we can build a structure to take that ship out of the water and it can be here forever - we haven't just flushed $98 million down the drain. Either way, the state is going to have to write a very large check.
"We can write that check to save her, or we can write it to throw all we've invested into her away."

The USS North Carolina, a World War II-era ship, had to undergo similar repairs.
"We developed a strategy to build a coffer dam around the ship with vertical steel walls," said Bragg. "This allows us to pump the water out and get direct access to the hull to cut and replace the steel on the ship. We are currently water-tight and have been for years. We hope to finish this project sometime around the beginning of 2018."
The USS North Carolina serves as an economic engine for that part of its state, a position that the Battleship Texas could easily hold for the southeast region of Houston, said U.S. Rep. John Culberson, (R-Houston).
"Not only is it important to preserve the history of this amazing ship," said Culberson, "but it's necessary as a vital part of our tourism industry. The ship needs to be stabilized and placed where people can see it, tour it and enjoy it regularly. Pier 21 by the Elissa would be a great place."

Urging action
Culberson has been a proponent of saving historic sites and attractions throughout Texas. He has worked to pass legislation that would create grant programs to save historic battleships.
"We need to work with officials at the federal, state and local levels to be sure the (Battleship) Texas has the money they need to save that ship," he said. "The state is primarily responsible for funding, but the federal government has passed legislation that could help historic ships like the Battleship Texas."

But local and state representatives need to know that saving the ship is what their constituency wants, Culberson said.
"The single most important thing Texans can do is speak to their representatives - speak to the members of congress - and urge them to pass legislation that will save the ship. Tell them that you want funding to restore the battleship so we can enjoy it for the next 100 years," he said. "This ship is part of our history. It was instrumental in saving thousands of lives. I can't tell you how many former servicemen I've met who feel very strongly about saving her. I'll do anything I can to save her. Because she saved me.' That's what they say."
The world's last dreadnought needs to be saved, if you are in Texas please contact your representative.
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atg
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by atg » 2017-08-30 08:30am

Not being fully up with dry-berthing: if the hull is in such a bad spot that you are pumping out 300,000 gallons (if my maths is right 1.1 million litres/1100 tons of water) a day... then what is the structural integrity of the rest of the thing? Keel, beams, frames, decks, etc. From what I can tell based on the wiki article for the ship these were last certified in 2009, with many major flooding incidents since then. Is dry berthing going to achieve much long term?
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Ace Pace » 2017-08-30 10:02am

atg wrote:
2017-08-30 08:30am
Not being fully up with dry-berthing: if the hull is in such a bad spot that you are pumping out 300,000 gallons (if my maths is right 1.1 million litres/1100 tons of water) a day... then what is the structural integrity of the rest of the thing? Keel, beams, frames, decks, etc. From what I can tell based on the wiki article for the ship these were last certified in 2009, with many major flooding incidents since then. Is dry berthing going to achieve much long term?
Considering the current hurricane...I wonder what became of it.
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Khaat » 2017-08-30 05:46pm

Found this re: Texas vs Harvey
There is no need to worry, the hurricane isn't landing at Houston. She has survived all the hurricanes up to this point. As long as the power stays she is safe.
Source: Super active volunteer
https://www.reddit.com/r/WorldOfWarship ... nk_during/

But it was 4 days ago, at this point.

Oh, also:
http://www.facebook.com/USSTEXASBB35/ for those of you with social media predelictions.
twitter wrote:Battleship TEXAS @TEXAS_BB35
Battleship TEXAS and the surrounding area this morning - she is definitely high, but not very dry.
Aug 29, 2017
or Monument Cam:
http://www.earthcam.com/usa/texas/lapor ... sanjacinto
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-08-31 11:09am

Flooding wouldn't hurt the ship so much, I suspect, because the battleship doesn't care if there's extra water in the shipping channel she floats in. The obvious problem would be exposure to wave action, which could easily tear up a fragile, corroded hull.
atg wrote:
2017-08-30 08:30am
Not being fully up with dry-berthing: if the hull is in such a bad spot that you are pumping out 300,000 gallons (if my maths is right 1.1 million litres/1100 tons of water) a day... then what is the structural integrity of the rest of the thing? Keel, beams, frames, decks, etc. From what I can tell based on the wiki article for the ship these were last certified in 2009, with many major flooding incidents since then. Is dry berthing going to achieve much long term?
With a dry berth you can prop up chunks of the hull from outside, you have more control over leakage and can actually repair/replace larger chunks of the hull, and you're in a much better position to (if need be) say 'fuckit' and just pour concrete around the hull the way the Russians did with Mikasa.
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Thanas » 2017-08-31 12:57pm

Japanese but yeah.
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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood
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Re: ATTN: Help save Battleship Texas

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-08-31 01:46pm

Yes, you're right. I was originally talking about the Russian cruiser Aurora, but I realized it was Mikasa and switched the word 'Mikasa' in. Theeen I forgot to change the country.

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