Battleship Texas Update
Since our last update, everyone’s world seems to have been turned upside down with the COVID-19 pandemic. First, all of us on the Battleship TEXAS team (BTF/TPWD/Valkor) hope that you and yours are safe and healthy. As for us, well, COVID has slowed us down a bit, and it is starting to cause some delays in crucial areas. For one, it has slowed some interested parties in getting their proposals for the berth in due to their, understandable, prioritization of their COVID response. In response, we are going to review the proposals received to date and begin conversations with those parties who already submitted a proposal. We are going to wait for proposals that were delayed by COVID. It also has impacted the bidding process that Valkor (our project management and engineering company) is in with various shipyards, we wish we had more than we could tell you on this subject, but commercial negotiations are sensitive. COVID also impacted ship operations by forcing us to adopt alternate work schedules for March and April to ensure social distancing by our staff. Social distancing and alternate work schedules reduced our ability to continue our primary task of getting the ship ready for the shipyard and operations transfer. However, that did not stop our indomitable crew from getting critical work accomplished.
One of the THC permits that was approved in March was for the removal of all the antiaircraft guns, 5” guns, signaling searchlights, and Mk 51 gun directors for restoration. While practicing proper social distancing, our staff spent the last month loosening bolts and preparing these objects for removal. It was a good thing we did that! We reached out to Taylor Marine Construction (TMC) the week of April 21 to schedule the gun removal for later in the summer. TMC offered to donate their services if they could do it last week because they were in the neighborhood. So, we scrambled to make sure we had our permit in hand, insurance in place for the guns, and a myriad of other things in time for the guns to be craned off the ship last Wednesday. The great folks at Taylor Marine and our team spent Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday craning (8) 40mm guns, (10) 3” guns, (8) 20mm guns, (9) Mk 51 gun directors, and (2) 24” signaling searchlights off the ship. We are saving the removal of the (6) 5” guns for when the ship reaches the shipyard as that will be a more delicate and time-consuming operation. Once those guns are off, their deteriorating foundations will be repaired, and they will be completely restored. We are planning for all guns to be reinstalled before the ship leaves the shipyard.
We would like to apologize for holding back on publishing this information – we wanted to avoid large crowds or the potential of vandalism while the guns waited over the weekend to be transported to their temporary home. The safety and security of the ship and her components are our number one priority after the safety of our guests, staff, and volunteers.
We are also excited to announce that through the kind donation of trucking services from CPS Houston and the donation of cranes from Certified Crane and Rigging Service, we got all the AA guns and the ship’s propeller moved to a secure location for restoration. And through the very generous donation of the folks at NRG, we have a secure and fully equipped support facility for our staff and volunteers to restore these objects while the ship is in the shipyard. And to be our base of operation during the yard period. NRG and CPS Houston have also generously offered to donate their abrasive blasting, painting, and fabrication services to us for the gun restoration project and the ship in general. Rest assured, once this gun restoration project kicks off later this year, we will be posting pictures of it. We can’t begin to describe how excited we are about this project and what it means for this big blue battleship.
Lastly, our crew is returning to a regular work schedule and will turn back to the primary task of getting the ship ready to head to the shipyard and for the operations transfer from TPWD to BTF. And along those lines, we hope to announce other prep work commencing and, fingers crossed, the shipyard in our update next month. Or sooner if a decision is made before then. In closing, I would like to ask that you, please, help us show appreciation to the folks at these fine companies for their generosity this great ship!
Taylor Marine Construction – Julius Taylor and the Taylor family
CPS Houston – Ray Yarbrough, Kyle Yarbrough, and the Yarbrough family
Certified Crane and Rigging Service – Paul Watson
NRG – Mike Ingram, Chuck Abendroth, and David Martin
The Battleship Texas Foundation is excited to announce that the Texas Historical Commission has approved three (3) permits allowing major work to begin on the Battleship Texas. Below is the press release distributed by the Texas Historical Commission on 26 March 2020. We will release the details of the permits when the repair facility is selected. So check back for future updates!
The Texas Historical Commission (THC) approved three permits enabling major work to begin on the relocation and restoration of the Battleship Texas.
In a special posted meeting conducted by teleconference, the THC’s executive committee took actions enabling the Battleship Texas Foundation to prepare the ship for relocation to a shipyard for restoration.
“We are grateful for the assistance and support we have received from the THC, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and all our partners and donors from across the state,” said Bruce Bramlett, the Battleship Texas Foundation’s chief operating officer and executive director. “We have a lot to do now, and we can’t wait to get started.”
The permits also authorize restoration work on the vessel’s hull and “blister” – twin compartments that helped protect it from torpedoes or other assaults – and projects involving the removal and restoration of large deck pieces, like cannons and searchlights.
The 86th Texas Legislature approved funding to move and restore the Battleship Texas. Due to the importance and complexity of the project, the THC Executive Committee conducted a special public meeting through teleconference after the agency’s scheduled March meeting was postponed in response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Battleship Texas Update
It is a been a little over a month since our last update when we put out the press release announcing the release of the RFP (request for proposals) for the Battleship’s new home port. Since then, the Battleship TEXAS team (BTF, TPWD, and Valkor) have gotten quite a bit done.
Since the press release, we have extended the deadline for proposal submissions by 30 days to April 10th. This came at the request of groups that are preparing proposals. As of now, we know of five groups that are planning to submit proposals. No, we cannot say who they are the moment for multiple reasons. Once the proposals are submitted, we will invite each entity to have an informal conversation with us about their location. After that, we will narrow down the proposals to the top three. Once we have selected the top three proposals, we will post the finalists to our website for public comment. We anticipate having interviews with the finalists in mid to late May. From there we will select the winning proposal for the Battleship TEXAS’ new home and announce the location. To say that we have a high level of anticipation for the end of the selection process, is an understatement!
While we await the submission of new home proposals, the planning for the shipyard project keeps humming along and hitting milestones. The Battleship TEXAS team submitted the necessary antiquities permits for the Texas Historic Commission two weeks for review and approval by the THC commissioners next week. Once the THC has approved our permits for the work, we will share what the scope of work looks like and our basic plan for moving the Battleship. Speaking of scope of work, Valkor, our project management contractor, has sent out invitations to bid to several shipyards along the Gulf Coast over the weekend. It will be several weeks before we start getting bids in and much longer than that before a shipyard is selected to perform the work. As we promised before, we will not release information until it becomes concrete -to that end we will not release details, until we have all the necessary approvals (like THC permits) and we have a shipyard under contract.
As the project keeps humming along, on the ship the BTF and TPWD team have continued to move through ship preparing the ship for the operations transfer, her trip, and the shipyard. Since February 1, the shipboard team has gone through 37 compartments removing debris, relocating loose original components of the ship to centralized storage locations on the ship, and strapping in loose original furniture and equipment. emptying it of years of accumulated debris and recyclable materials. Since February 1, we have removed 60 cubic yards of debris and 40 cubic yards of recyclable materials. Which we estimate to weigh roughly 30,000 pounds in total. We are estimating that since January 1, we have removed at least 60,000 pounds of debris in total.
And lastly, we want to give a shout out to the Battleship’s dedicated volunteers who have been working on finishing the restoration of a 3”/50 magazine. They have repainted the magazine and have begun cleaning the 800 plus 3”/50 ammunition storage tubes that were acquired. Each tube contained one 3” round and allowed for the rounds to be safely transported and loaded into the magazines of ships. These tubes will give the appearance of what the magazine would look like full. We are anticipating that this compartment, and others, will be on new Hard Hat Tour routes or added to the existing Hard Hat Tour when the ship reopens in the first quarter of 2022.
We greatly appreciate the support that you all have shown us and, more importantly, the support and love that you give this grand lady. Together, we will all ensure that her future remains bright and that she continues to keep the memories of all who served aboard her.
Battleship TEXAS Update
Battleship TEXAS Foundation Releases Request for Proposal for Battleship TEXAS’s New Home
Battleship TEXAS Foundation (BTF) released its request for proposal (RFP) for the selection of the new home port for the National Historic Landmark Battleship TEXAS on January 21, 2020. The BTF, a 501c3 nonprofit, is currently accepting proposals for a new berth and home for the Battleship TEXAS. The Battleship TEXAS’ current berth at San Jacinto State Historic Site does not financially support the Battleship’s annual maintenance costs. The BTF is seeking to find a new home port for the Battleship TEXAS that ensures sufficient paid visitor revenue can be generated to support the operation and maintenance needs of the ship well into the future.
The purpose of the RFP is to solicit proposals from various candidate organizations, after which the BTF will conduct a fair and extensive evaluation and select the candidate location that best fulfills the requirements of the BTF. Parties wishing to submit a RFP must contact the BTF through firstname.lastname@example.org to request the RFP package.
The BTF is a nonprofit foundation that was founded in 1999. Its mission is to preserve and enhance the Battleship TEXAS and develop this historic ship into a premier museum and visitor attraction. In 2019 the BTF and TPWD (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department) entered a 99-year memorandum of understanding/lease (MOU) with TPWD whereby the BTF would operate and maintain the Battleship TEXAS for TPWD and the State of Texas.
Currently, the BTF and TPWD are preparing the ship for transportation to a shipyard where her hull will be replaced from the waterline down and repainted, along with other necessary repairs and improvements. The ship is tentatively scheduled to depart her current berth between April-August 2020 and be in the shipyard for a period of approximately twelve-months. Once the battleship leaves the shipyard, we anticipate the ship arriving in the new berth around August 2021. Following a period to prepare the ship for reopening, the plan is to have it receiving visitors by 1st Quarter 2022.
Once the Battleship TEXAS is reopened to the public the BTF will operate the ship with the highest standards of preservation, maintenance, and will consistently offer new experiences and programs for the ship’s visitors to enjoy.
Battleship TEXAS Update
December 18, 2019
It has been awhile since our last update and quite a bit has happened since. Our salvage and transportation contractor finished up their survey right before Thanksgiving. As part of their survey was to perform very extensive thicknesses gauging of her hull and framing, get an understanding of the condition of TEXAS, evaluate how water moves within the ship once it leaks in. The thickness testing that Ardent completed is the most extensive testing done since her last drydocking in 1989. From all the data gathered during the survey several reports will be generated which will feed into the larger transportation plan -the how we move this battlewagon.
Many folks assume that the conceptual animation that we shared in the summer is how we are going to move the ship. It was shared to show a conceptual way that ship could be moved, not necessarily how the ship will be moved. We will have a much better idea on how we are moving the ship once we receive the final reports from the survey. When we announce the transportation plan at the same time we announce which shipyard she is going to for repairs.
Another aspect of the project started this week: preparing the slip for the ship’s departure. Russell Marine is onsite removing the remnants of the 1970s bulkhead that is at the Ship Channel entrance to the ship’s berth. It is being removed to make the dredging operation quicker and easier, allow better tug access to the ship, and significantly reducing the risks associated with bringing the ship out of the berth.
Speaking of berths, we are working to finalize our Request for Proposals (RFP) for the new berth location for the Battleship. We anticipate sending that out shortly after New Years to all interested parties and hope to be able to make an announcement in the first quarter of 2020.
We would like to take a moment to say thank you to all the volunteers and TPWD staff who are working hard alongside us to help make all the necessary shipyard preparations and with the transition of ship operations from TPWD to BTF. Though we are a bit biased, we believe there is a great joint TPWD/BTF team working day in and out on the Battleship getting the ship ready and navigating the operations transition.
Vice President of Ship Operations
Battleship TEXAS Update
November 5, 2019
Last Wednesday, Ardent Global Marine Services started the “salvage” survey on the ship. This survey is a critical step in the process of moving the Battleship TEXAS to a shipyard for restoration work. While we have a wealth data on the ship’s condition it is vitally important that we make certain that we have dotted every “i” and crossed every “t”. This survey will tell us, at minimum, how water moves between the tanks of the ship and where exactly her weak spots are. Once completed we will be in a position to begin finalizing our plans for the safe transport of TEXAS.
On October 26th we hosted World of Warships on the ship. The event was sold out and all that were able to attend had a fantastic time. Beautiful day and great turnout.
Many of you continue to ask if we might be able to open the ship up to the public a few times before she departs. Great question -we continue to study the options. Given all the work still to be done, safety will be the biggest concern and liability is the key issue. I promise if something happens where we can safely open the ship for visitation we will. But at this time, it does not look very likely.
There were two people who questioned why we can’t provide more detailed information at this time. It is important to understand that we are in negotiations with a number of ship yards and contractors. Each of those relationships are covered by Non-Disclosure Agreements. Those agreements restrict parties on all sides from discussing details of the work. When this process is completed, we will be more than happy to share more.
Regarding the time line, we are still planning to move The Texas early in 2020. Many of you are still asking about being in the park when she starts her journey. We are looking for a way to possibly make that an option.
One final point I would like to make and will continue to make is this, there continues to be a lot of parties who are speculating on where the restoration work will take place. That decision has not been made yet. There are also lots of people who think they know where the permanent home of the Battleship TEXAS is. There are lots of misinformation being batted around on social media. Do not fall for any of that. Meetings and discussion continue and will continue for a while yet. Once again, we will advise when firm information is known.
Bruce Bramlett Executive Director
Battleship TEXAS Update
Here is my update as of today. Things continue to move forward at a rapid pace. I thought I would try and give you some frame of reference for how quickly this is moving. Travis (our Director of Ship Operations) and I were talking last week about the TEXAS’ trip to Galveston in the late 1980s and Travis reminded me that the planning for that trip took between 2-3 years. This is a much more challenging effort and the current condition of TEXAS requires us to make sure that everything is done to the highest standard. Which we are and will continue to do. Our team is using the experience and lessons learned in the Battleship’s 1988 shipyard trip in addition to considerable amount of experience and expertise that each member brings to the table. This tremendous team is made up of folks from BTF, TPWD, and Valkor. We are all working together to ensure that the trip is made safely, and the highest quality work is done in the shipyard. As we move forward our team’s bench will grow deeper.
In the meantime, we will shortly begin our marine survey, which will provide critical information to prepare for the eventual move. Now, you may wonder if I am saying it could be a few years before we move the Battleship TEXAS for repairs, it will not. But again, I tell you we will go when we have everything in place to ensure a successful move, repair, and return of TEXAS.
With regards to the final home for TEXAS I am happy to tell you that discussions are heating up. However, once again it is important to remember that this is a process that is highly competitive so as soon as we know we will make that information public.
This project brings to light just how much people care about her and how they are interested in her survival. That is so great to witness. I would like to stress, however, to please be careful what information you see and believe. This love brings a few folks to the surface that while they have great love for her, they have no direct connection to the actual planning or execution of what will take place. My advice is to continue to look for our updates for the most solid information. For the record you can find that information on our website at www.battleshiptexas.org. The only Facebook page associated with the ship the Battleship Texas Foundation page. Any other FB pages such as Save The Battleship Texas are not ours.
Thank you all for your desire to see us open TEXAS back up to the public and provide a few more opportunities for folks to visit. It is our desire to make that happen and we are doing our best to try and pull that off. If it is possible, we will communicate that information out, so please keep checking back on our website.
Currently, TPWD continues to work very hard to remove artifacts off the ship for storage to ensure their safety.
We always need volunteers on the Battleship so if this is something you have ever considered, I would ask you to let us know and we will get you connected with the appropriate person to make that happen.
In the meantime, stay tuned and will have more information going forward.
Battleship TEXAS Update
Always interesting to read your thoughts from the emails you send us along with your social media posts. What struck me this week was the overwhelming support you have for what we are doing to save the Battleship Texas.
There were two things I saw this week that I should clear up for you. There still seems to be a lot of you that somehow think we are headed to Sea Wolf Park with the Battleship. I’m not sure where you get your information, but you could save yourself a lot of heartburn if you check with us first. To be clear, we have been offered Sea Wolf Park as a location and we have said no. Sea Wolf Park has several issues that make it a poor choice for the Battleship. Chief among those is the current attendance of the two vessels currently located there. They only get about 40-50,000 paid visitors, which makes Sea Wolf Park unworkable for TEXAS. Bottom line is this, Sea Wolf Park does not meet the ship’s needs.
The other question that I saw last week was this. What if the new location does not produce enough paid visitation? Well that would be a problem. It is the same issue that we are trying to solve with our current location at San Jacinto State Historic Site. You will notice, and I have said time and again, the new location may be the most critical decision we face. What we do know is that the current location has years of history that has proven it does not meet the attendance objectives for what is required to maintain Battleship TEXAS . Currently, we are answering inquiries from six potential locations. I cannot discuss these locations at this time for a number of reasons. Very soon we will put out a request for proposals so that potential host locations can submit their best case and we can have an analytical way of choosing the best location for the Battleship. This is a very competitive process and we need to protect communications until a final decision is made.
We had a productive week as we continue to plan for TEXAS’s movement to the shipyard where the hull restoration will take place. However, we still have engineering work to finish before we will be prepared to make a final decision. The good news is we have a great deal of interest with a number of possible yards that are being considered. Again, if you are reading anything right now, from any source, that says the ship is going here or there that information is untrue. We don’t know where TEXAS will go yet, so neither does anyone else.
The final question that we get a lot is, when the Battleship TEXAS starts to be moved will I be able to attend. This is a great question. For sure we understand why people would like to attend. I wish we could answer that question however, the Battleship Texas Foundation will not be making this decision by ourselves. Texas Parks and Wildlife, as well as, the Texas Historical Commission will be involved in making that determination. So, be aware that we will make every effort to allow people to view this historical moment if possible.
Last thing this week is this. I do not communicate via Face Book. If you have questions or comments you shout submit them to email@example.com. Travis, Kandace, and I all look at those emails. We will respond to you or if it is a common question then I will answer it here next week.
Thanks for dropping by this week.
Bruce Bramlett, Executive Director
Battleship Texas Foundation
So, glad that you chose to drop by for an update on Texas. Since you all have different ideas of what is going on let me first do a quick review. In February 2019 The Foundation along with our engineers met with The Governor’s staff, TPWD leadership, and 4 Texas State Senators. The purpose of our visit had one goal in mind. To offer a solution to save Texas that could be funded and successful. Prior to that meeting there were only two options that had been under consideration for years. One, build a permanent dry berth in her current location or two, look at the very real possibility of having to scrap Texas. Frankly, option one, the dry berth just became too expensive. The reason I know that is because every time we tried to convince the state to fund the dry berth, we were told no. In fact, we were told in the February meeting that there was no appetite left for putting any more money into Texas. While the dry berth idea had many good ideas, in the end if there was no way to pay for it, and there wasn’t a way to pay for it, then it was not the solution. The second option was basically a decision that would eventually result in the scrapping of Texas. Estimates to scrap her were in the neighborhood of thirty million dollars. It is an option that just could not be allowed to occur. In February the Foundation along with our engineers presented a plan to move Texas, and yes it can be safely moved, to a location where we could replace the hull. There are many things we hope to do as well. These include replacing the deck and painting the ship.
In that February meeting and in order to get someone to sponsor this solution formally, we were told that the engineering must work, it does. The intent of the Foundation was to gain funding for a plan that would not be as expensive as the dry berth but, would ensure that the ship was preserved and did not end her life in the scrap heap. We did and the plan does.
To be clear, funding was the sole purpose of our efforts. However, TPWD suggested that the operation of Texas might be better served if the operations were turned over to a private not for profit organization. The thought from TPWD and others was there was already a model for this possibility. The State had done this before with The Texas Railroad and the Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. It was suggested that The Battleship Texas Foundation consider taking over operations. We have agreed to do so. The other condition was that Texas would be better served if were to be moved to a location that would allow for much higher paid visitation.
Many will believe that Texas should be returned to current location. That her history is at San Jacinto. We understand this position, but the truth is, Texas and her history comes from places like Normandy, North Africa, Cherbourg, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.
Many will say it should not be about money and visitation. I only wish that you were correct. Right or wrong, Texas simply has to be in condition and in a location that provides the best opportunity for her to be self-sustaining. That ability is totally dependent on being able to attract enough visitors to make her financially viable.
Let me sum this up so we can move on to other news.
We have a plan to move Texas and rehabilitate her.
She will be moved from San Jacinto State Park.
She will be placed in a new home that will provide the best possible opportunity to be successful.
Since February Senate Bill 1511 was passed in the 2019 legislative session. This bill provided for TPWD to lease Texas to The Battleship Texas Foundation for 99 years. Ownership of Texas will remain with The State of Texas. This agreement, known as a MOU, has been written and signed by both TPWD and BTF.
Funding for the requested $35 million was approved in separate legislation with those funds coming from the states “rainy day fund.”
To date we have not used any of those funds, but very soon we will begin to use those funds to execute the plan. You may also like to know that the final vote to move operations to BTF passed out of the State Senate on a vote of 30-0. It was also passed out of the Texas House on a vote of 146-0.
In June The Governor signed the legislation.
Where are we today, glad you ask.
As I previously stated, the MOU has been signed. The original plan was to pass operations from TPWD to BTF on October 5th of this year. That date has been changed to November.
Detailed Engineering is moving forward.
Possible locations for the best place to perform the repairs and best way to move Texas for rehabilitation are still being considered.
Let me add a note here before I move on. Until the Governor signed the bill, which he did in June and until we had a signed MOU, that happened three weeks ago, we were limited to how far and fast we could go. In the beginning many people said we were moving too fast. Now, we have many who think we are moving too slow. Be that is may, we will move at whatever pace is required to be successful.
Here is what I can tell you today. We have many options on places to do the repairs and the best way to move Texas. Please listen closely, success and safety will not be driven by any other forces except these. We have not decided where to move Texas. Once we have made that decision, we will certainly make that information public.
Many want to know where the new home will be. Here is what I can share with you. We do not know. We have many locations that are interested. We will do our proper due diligence to arrive at the very best decision possible. Again, once BTF makes that decision we will make that information public.
Many would like to know when will Texas be moved. We do not know but hope and believe that will her transport will happen later this year or in early 2020.
Many people have expressed an interest in being in the park when she does move. Again, we understand that desire. The determination, of the possibility of the public being allowed in the park that day, will involve many organizations input. We will let you know once that determination has been made.
In conclusion let me add these thoughts.
The goal at the end of the day is to save The Texas. There will be many with strong opinions as to we should go about doing that. Great thing about the times we live in is that it is easy to share those thoughts. My counsel to you it be wary of where you look for factual information.
Just a short list of the kinds of things I get told, catch this, not ask but told.
I understand that Texas is being given to The State of Alabama. I get this from media people and individuals. Of course, this is not true I tell them. Do you really think that The State of Texas is going to spend all this money and then give Texas to another state., I ask them? Of course not, I tell them.
Or, someone calls and tells me that Texas is going to this location or that location for repairs. I find these comments ironic given the fact that I do not know that information so how could you. Short answer, they don’t, because those decisions have not been made yet.
In the end The Battleship Texas Foundation, with State of Texas oversite, is responsible for the planning and execution of the plan to rehabilitate Texas. It is a responsibility we take very seriously.
See you next week.
Bruce Bramlett, Executive Director
Battleship Texas Foundation
Let me start off by thanking all of you that love The Texas and want to see her survive.
At this tab, I will share what is going on and provide a status update for you to follow. We will also attempt to share the same information on our Facebook page. For the record I suggest you use our Facebook, Battleship Texas Foundation page and our website as your official places to look for the most up to date information. We do not control nor will we be posting information to any other site. For you this means be diligent about where you seek information.
Let me add that many of you like to use messenger to try an communicate with me. That approach will not be very successful as I seldom have time to look at those messages. You will find that you have more success if you simply email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will make every effort to have the first update available next week.
Come and Save it.
Bruce Bramlett, Executive Director