Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Come On, Texas!

Posted in Memory, Technology by Andy Hall on April 28, 2012

On Saturday I had the opportunity to take a “hard-hat” tour of U.S.S. Texas (BB-35), which is preserved as a museum ship at the San Jacinto Battleground, near Houston. She’s one-of-a-kind, the last dreadnought battleship from the first great arms race of the 20th century. The tour was arranged by my colleague, Amy Borgens, for the benefit of the Marine Archaeological Stewards group. The tour was led by Ship Manager Andy Smith and the ship’s Curator, Travis Davis. There’s not very much about Texas that one or the other of those men doesn’t know.

It was quite remarkable, and I would urge anyone with a particular interest in technology or maritime history to take a similar tour if you can. Though the focus was mostly on the technology of the ship — structure, fittings and operation –there were quite a few very human touches, like personal locker whose owner had made a careful running account, inside the door, of all the other Texas sailors who owed him money. It was a long list. One of our group, a Navy veteran himself, commented that “there’s a guy like that in every division.”

The ship desperately needs a major overhaul and rebuilding of specific areas. There’s a significant amount of money set aside for this work already, but it’s not likely to be enough given the scale of the task, and plans are still being made to see how best to tackle the ship’s restoration and preservation with the resources available. As Ship Manager Andy Smith explained, it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. It’s hard to raise money without very concrete, specific plans as to how you’re going to spend it; at the same time, though, it’s hard to make detailed and pragmatic plans if you don’t know how much money you’re going to have to work with.

“Come on, Texas!” was a cheer her sailors used when rooting for their messmates in athletic competitions with other ships in the fleet, and it seems appropriate for this stage in the ship’s life, as well. In a few days, on May 18, 2012, U.S.S. Texas will mark her 100th birthday. Here’s hoping she’s still around for her 200th.

This diagram shows the locations appearing in the following images, roughly in order from aft (left), moving forward. More pictures after the jump:

(more…)