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Crews fight to fix leak, keep historic battleship Texas afloat

By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times –

HOUSTON — Crews have been working 24-hour days to keep the leaky battleship Texas afloat.

The historic battleship, which just turned 100 years old in May, is among six remaining vessels that served in World War I and World War II.

Ship Manager Andy Smith told the Los Angeles Times that crews noticed the ship was taking on water Saturday and have been working ever since to find and patch the leak.

“We’re pretty stable,” Smith said Wednesday. “There’s no imminent danger.”

Smith said workers hope to finish clearing out residual oil Wednesday, being careful not to let any oil seep into the Buffalo Bayou and the busy Houston Ship Channel, where the ship is anchored.

“The next steps will be pump down and assess what’s going on, find the hole. We might be able to patch it, fix it right then, or come up with a plan to fix it,” he said.

Smith, who has managed the battleship for nearly six years for Texas Parks and Wildlife, said this is the worst of about four leaks he’s seen.

Plans were afoot to remove the ship from the channel and place it in dry dock, or berth, for a multimillion-dollar renovation.

“We do have money, but we’re working on design phases and public review. This ship belongs to all of us,” Smith said. “If we can’t find that dry berth solution, we’re going to shift our repair efforts to keep the ship in place.”

He said the current crisis pales in comparison to conflicts the battleship faced in the past.

“This is not anything versus Iwo Jima or D-day — this ship has been through a lot,” Smith said.

“The Japanese couldn’t sink it, the Germans couldn’t sink it. Hopefully old age isn’t going to sink it.”

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