A 100 year-old battleship anchored in Houston started taking on water last weekend – and has since sunk two feet into the ship channel.
The crew of the U.S.S. Texas noticed a leak early Saturday and have been pumping out water ever since. The ship’s crew has also been working around the clock to stop oil aboard the ship from leaking into the channel.
Ship manager Andy Smith says the crew is filtering and skimming the water and is also using a floating barricade to prevent contamination of the channel. “We don’t have any oil in the water right now; that’s just a precautionary measure,” Smith says. “So we’re in the process right now of cleaning that oil up and kind of maintaining the status quo with the water coming in.”
Although the location of the leak hasn’t been identified yet, Smith suspects the culprit at the bottom of the ship, in what is known as the “six-pack.” Smith hopes to remove the oil and pump out most of the water today, so they can patch up the leak tomorrow.
Depending on where the leak is, Smith says patching it could involve “something as simple, literally, as putting a rubber patch on it,” to cutting out the wasted steel and “welding – possibly even underwater –a new piece of steel in place.”
The Battleship Texas is the only warship docked in the U.S. to survive both World War I and World War II. A renovation was in the works, but that project fell through due to a lack of funding. Now the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department will be pursuing an extensive repair plan.
The ship is still open for tours; although the lower decks are closed, they are virtually accessible online.