An opportunity has come along that could be a game changer for the city of Galveston. The USS Texas battleship will be a game changer. It can become the significant attraction to Galveston. But it will only happen if all parties agree.

Other cities have capitalized on these significant historic monuments to create major tourist attractions. My favorites are USS Midway Museum in San Diego and the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Given the will, Galveston could create such a world-class attraction. My dream would be a Texas World War I and II museum anchored by the USS Texas.

For the ship to come to Galveston, all the authorities would have to agree that the location is beneficial to everyone. Specifically, the decision-makers in charge of the battleship, the USS Texas Foundation, would have to first agree. These folks recognize that high traffic is necessary for economic success. Galveston, taxpayers, downtown businesses and the port will also benefit from the addition of the USS Texas.

I participated in the citizens committee analyzing all locations in Galveston as a possible site for the battleship. Our second choice was Pier 21.

Our reasons for this are many:

1. Galveston commercial interest will benefit greatly from the individuals and families visiting The USS Texas. Visitors parking will walk past shops, restaurants and entertainment on their way to the battleship. For example, the new American National Insurance Co. parking decks can provide sufficient additional parking on weekends and holidays, a short five-minute walk from Pier 21.

2. Dock buildout cost for Pier 21 is the lowest of possible locations. The ship could literally be parked at Pier 21 now.

3. For the Port of Galveston, revenue from attendance can return as significant rental income to the city.

4. A study by Deloitte Consulting suggests attendance projections for a Galveston downtown location should be at least three times higher than the current Baytown location. Seawolf Park traffic is less than Baytown.

5. The USS Texas Foundation realizes from its analysis that Seawolf Park would be an economic failure and has therefore turned down the Seawolf Park location. If Galveston’s leadership doesn’t propose the Pier 21 location, the USS Texas Foundation will move the ship to Kemah, a good location that it is currently considering.

6. Galveston would have the opportunity to build a world-class Texas World War I and II museum anchored by the USS Texas. Other cities, such as the USS Midway in San Diego and the World War II Museum in New Orleans, reap significant benefits from these attractions.

I hope our city leadership will thoroughly consider this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Galveston and get behind bringing the USS Texas battleship to downtown Galveston.

Ralph McMorris is a former city of Galveston councilman.

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(15) comments

Don Schlessinger

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Robert Braeking

That old tub leaks so badly that we could grow oysters in the bilge as a side line. When she was refit at Todd she nearly sunk on the way to drydock. She should be allowed to return to sea, remove the pumps, and let her settle to the bottom where she can become an artificial reef.

Don Schlessinger

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Gary Miller

Robert> A artificial reef off shore of Galveston could provide a fishing spot for centuries with no more spending of tax money. The VA Fogg is a little too fare offshore but attracts fish and fishers alike. The Texas can't be repaired over and over and moved from berth to berth forever. It will eventually be used as a reef or scrapped for steel. As a reef she will be honored long beyond the generation that sail in her.

Miceal O'Laochdha

Mr. Miller, your idea that sinking the USS Texas for a reef with no more spending of tax payers money indicates you do not understand the procedures, which would cost millions of taxpayer dollars, required over several years of work to abate, remove, and properly dispose of all the asbestos, lead, and PCB's to prepare it sinking without negative environmental impact. Simply turning off the pumps to sink her, as someone else suggested, is also ludicrous; that would require specialized and costly demolition procedures. There is not a dollar saved by this plan. Indeed it would likely cost more than repairing the hull.

As to your reference to the tragedy that cost the lives of the entire crew, plus all the Galveston tank cleaning workers from the old Marine Maintenance Company when the Fogg blew up; I guess they are sorry they were too far offshore for convenient fishing when she exploded. That "fishing spot" is the graveyard of about 40 men. Maybe we could take a moment of silence to remember them?

Gary Miller

Miceal>It's true that preparing the Texas for use as a reef might be expensive. Preparing it for a new dock will also be expensive and will be required over and over. The spending should stop as soon as she passes under the waves. Fewer will visit her as a reef but fewer will be required to pay for her upkeep. A new bouy marking her spot might be needed every few years.

Ray Taft

Good idea for the museums. However, every idea of where to put the USS Texas depends on moving the ship and getting it ready. Not an easy task that will cost a boat-load of money.

It is in bad shape and its move is still highly questionable according to Battleship Texas updates online (https://battleshiptexas.org/battleship-updates/).

John Merritt

With apologies to Henny Youngman, Kemah, take my ship, please! I realize that some feel that this ship has historic importance, but if it is moved and reberthed, it would cost a fortune to relocate it and use extremely valuable dock space. i believe our ship channel and port has a very bright future and we will benefit with jobs and economic opportunity. I do not want my city, county, state and federal tax dollars used to preserve this ship.

Dan Freeman

The Texas is salvageable. It is a remarkable monument to more than a century of naval warfare. The possibility of salvage is discussed beginning at minute 30 of the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eoJCs3_Q9g

Don Schlessinger

"These folks recognize that high traffic is necessary for economic success. Galveston, taxpayers, downtown businesses and the port will also benefit from the addition of the USS Texas." Benefit taxpayers? How will it benefit me, an Island tax victim? You'll use property tax money to help pay for the ship's support then charge me to visit it. How will it benefit me and my neighbors?

Charles Wiley

Ralph, your column is sooo wrong in sooo many ways! Shame on you for misrepresenting the committee conclusions. As of now, the USS Texas will come to Galveston. The ad hoc committee studied several sites and, while Pier 21 was discussed at length by YOU, no one else seriously thought it was even close much less “second choice” There was no second choice and you know it. Each of the points you make in your column are refutable, suppositions, conjecture, and in some cases simply untrue. The Port, Park Board, and the City all favor Seawolf Park. Check the master plans for the Port and Park Board and you may learn why Pier 21 is a poor choice. There is no “synergy” with Pier 21! There is with Seawolf Park. We should honor that ship as a museum and not turn it into some sort of downtown amusement.

Bill Cochrane

Mr. Wiley, It appears that Ole Ralphie has been partying with his bud Lieutenant Blender and wants even more traffic on Harborside. Where would people park? Seawolf Park is the obvious place for the USS Texas.

Charles Wiley

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Gary Miller

Has anyone determined it can be moved? Can it be floated? Or will it become just another abandoned boat? If it isn't generating enough money to maintain it there is one logical conclusion. Stop trying to maintain it.

Jonathan Welch

If Seawolf Park isn't good enough, then send it back to Baytown.

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