The holidays have not slowed down the pledges coming in to help maintain the USS Texas Battleship once it arrives in Baytown.
Jay Eshbach, who is heading a committee focused on having the historic dreadnought brought to Baytown permanently, said the total of pledges had reached $27,600 per year for five years.
“About 80% to 90% of the pledges we are getting are $100 a year,” Eshbach said. “Every once in a while, someone pledges $500 or so.”
Eshbach said three people pledged $500 per year for five years within the last two weeks.
“Pledges are coming in four to six a week now,” Eshbach said. “It is slowly moving forward. Right now, we are waiting for (Battleship Foundation) to give us information on what they are expecting. But it is progressing well, and we have no complaints. So, in the meantime, we will just slowly fundraise and wait on the Foundation to give us information.”
Travis Davis, the Foundation’s vice president of Ship Operations, recently provided an update on preparations on moving the ship, which was commissioned in 1914 and has been berthed next to the San Jacinto Battlegrounds since 1948.
Davis posted the Foundation’s salvage and transportation contractor, Ardent Global, surveyed the ship right before the Thanksgiving holidays. This included thickness gauging of the hull and framing. A better understanding of the ship’s condition was gained, as well as how water that leaks in the ship moves, Davis stated.
Davis said this was the most extensive treating since the ship was dry-docked in 1989.
The information from the survey reports is going to be used for the transportation plan. In February, Texas legislators appropriated $35 million for repairs of the battleship. A location for the repairs has not been determined nor has a final berth once repairs are complete.
Davis also said they have also begun to prepare the slip for the ship’s departure, whenever that takes place. Russell Marine is removing remnants of bulkheads at the Houston Ship Channel’s entrance to the ship’s berth that has been in place since the 1970s. This is supposed to make the dredging operations faster and easier as well as provide better access for tugboats. It is also supposed to reduce the risks of bringing the ship out of its berth.
Davis said they anticipate finalizing the Request for Proposals for a new berth. Those are being sent after the New Year to all interested parties, Davis stated. A final announcement on where the ship will end up is expected within the first quarter of 2020, according to Davis.
Locals seem to be anxious for the ship’s arrival despite no official announcement of it coming here.
Russell Hamman, who helped to create the Facebook page, “The BBB Foundation: Bring the Battleship to Baytown,” recently posted on five different group pages, three which are run by him personally, asking for volunteers for the battleship if it comes to Baytown.
“Within the first day, we received about 150 give or take one or two responses saying they would help,” Hamman said.