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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 email@example.com.
We will make every effort to have the first update available next week.
Come and Save it.
Bruce Bramlett, Executive Director