Historic Battleship USS Texas Taking In Water, Leaking Oil

The USS Texas is America’s oldest battleship. Commissioned in 1914, it fought in both World War I and World War II. Since 1948 it’s been utilized as a museum at La Porte, Texas, on the outskirts of Houston.

Now the vessel is in peril. It’s sprung a leak and is taking on water. So much water entered the ship that it started noticeably listing to port. The old oil tanks got flooded. While the tanks had been emptied decades ago, they’d never been cleaned, so oily water spread out into the bay.

The oil is being cleaned and the water pumped out. While problems continue, the ship doesn’t appear to be in danger of sinking. The Houston Chronicle reports the ship is taking less water now, from a high of 850 gallons a minute down to 100. Repairs will hopefully start Monday and the ship will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Despite its current troubles, the future may be bright for this floating bit of history. In 2007 a state bond issue raised $25 million to dry berth the ship. This would help preserve it for future generations. Now it’s estimated the project may cost twice that. Getting the money will be difficult in this economic climate, but the project would create jobs and preserve a major tourist attraction.

Check out the video to learn more about this amazing vessel.

Battleship New Jersey saved from funding cut

The battleship USS New Jersey saw service in World War Two, Korea, Vietnam, and Lebanon and proved unstoppable, but one dangerous foe almost shut it down for good–budget cuts. A couple of months ago New Jersey Governor Chris Christie passed a state budget that did not include $1.7 million to keep the ship open as a museum in Camden harbor. Much political wrangling ensued, over this and numerous other funding measures, and the new budget that has just been signed includes the money for the battleship. The ship’s curators now plan to go ahead with a paint job and installing an interactive loading and firing simulation in one of the turrets.

Some other attractions and parks in the state have not been so lucky. The Camden Children’s Garden did not see its annual $625,000 grant renewed and has already cut staff and opening hours. Other states are having similar budget woes, with New York cutting funding to many parks.

Even the battleship is struggling. Its annual state funding used to stand at $3.4 million. It looks like there are tough times ahead for all attractions that rely on local, state, and federal funding. This may lead to rising ticket prices, shorter hours, and more appeals for donations.

Photo courtesy user Daveahern via Wikimedia Commons.