Some local folks are doing their part to help bring the USS Texas to the shores of Baytown.
A group has organized to put forth an effort to have the ship, known as the “Big T,” towed to Bayland Island once repairs are finished. Led by Jay Eshbach, a local community leader, the committee is making requests for individuals and entities to pledge money toward maintaining the ship once it arrives here in Baytown. The pledges would then be taken to the Battleship Texas Foundation in a move to show there is huge support in Baytown to have the ship here.
At a meeting held at El Toro on Garth Road Tuesday, Eshbach announced his pledge plan.
Now, two have already made the pledge – Community Resources Credit Union and Kay and Jay Eshbach. Both the credit union and the Eshbach’s are pledging $5,000 for five years.
“We received two commitments within hours of our pledge meeting,” Eshbach said.
Ronnie Anderson, former executive vice president for CRCU and current legislative coordinator, said the credit union is happy to contribute to bringing the ship to Baytown.
“This is the most exciting project to come to our area in a long time,” Anderson said. “If we are successful, the long-term economic benefits for Baytown will be tremendous. Having it docked at Bayland Island will elevate the city to new levels. The credit union has been a part of Baytown’s history since 1935. Being a financial partner in this endeavor was an easy decision. We want to set the bar high to ensure Baytown becomes the next permanent of the Battleship Texas.”
Eshbach said major pledgers could also receive a 30 by 40-inch canvas saying they are helping to bring the battleship to Baytown.
Eshbach started sending out at least 10 letters a day with an application to fill out for five-year pledges to help with the maintenance of the ship. He stressed this is not a fundraiser, and no money is required. If the ship ends up going elsewhere, no money is lost.
“My concern is we need to get our act together before the (Foundation’s request for proposals),” he said. “We know we are going to have to do the dredging and maybe a cofferdam. We also know they want a museum, a gift shop, and an entrance/exit ramp to the ship.”
Dredging is another obstacle Eshbach said requires some planning. As it stands now, the 750-foot ship would need to be in about 30-feet of water. Eshbach said the depth around Bayland Island is about 8 to 10-feet.
“We need to design that and get an idea about the location on the island. And get with the (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) to check on dredging,” Eshbach said. “I’ve been told the Ship Channel has some areas they are interested in dredging. If we have to dredge a 30-foot channel for the ship and the tugboats to move the ship, that is a lot of dredge material. That needs to be planned ahead of time rather than them coming out with an RFP while we are trying to get our act together.”
Eshbach said he is also sending clippings of letters written by local school students at Goose Creek CISD that have appeared in the Baytown Sun to Bruce Bramlett, the Battleship Texas Foundation’s executive director.
“I hope they enjoy reading them as much as I do,” he said.
Eshbach said the battleship might not be moved from its current berth until February. It could also take seven to eight days to tow the ship from its berth to the repair location, which has yet to be determined. The estimated time it would take to repair the dreadnought is eight to nine months.
If any Baytown citizen is interested in making a pledge, applications are available at The Baytown Sun between 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 1301 Memorial Drive, Baytown, Monday through Friday.
Interested parties can also email Eshbach at email@example.com. He will send you an application, and you can fax it, email it or drop it off at the Sun’s location.