By CDR Byron (Jug) Varner, U.S. Navy (RET)
The battleship Texas, a dreadnought that steamed thousands of miles during her naval service during two world wars, recently logged a few more for the first time in 40 years. Getting started was not easy, however.
She had been on public display at the San Jacinto Battleship Park since April 1948. Sitting in the Houston channel silt four decades had mired her to the bottom as if it were concrete. It took six commercial tugboats more than five hours to break the ship free and pull her into the main channel in one piece.
Once out of her berth, the only hindrance was an unmovable rudder, frozen 15 degrees to starboard. That malfunction required a tedious nine hour tugboat journey to the Todd Shipyards in Galveston, 40 miles away.
A $5.1 million facelift funded by the the Texas Parks and Wild Life Department will restore the Texas to her previous war-time condition. The “Mighty T” will then return to her original berth, at Battleship Park.
The Battleship Texas Advisory Board is requesting donations of old Navy uniforms to outfit the volunteer crew that will man the ship when she returns. If you wish to contribute a WWI or WWII Navy dress or working uniform for this purpose, send it to: Uniforms for the Texas, 3527 Battleground Road, La Porte, Texas 77571.