Bringing the only remaining American vessel to serve in both World War I and World War II, The Battleship Texas, to dock in Beaumont’s waters is not off the table.
And Chief Operating Officer and Executive Director of The Battleship Texas Foundation Bruce Bramlett came to a Beaumont City Council workshop last week to share financial information and again pitch the ship as an asset to the city.
The ship currently is moving to a shipyard in Galveston where repairs will be completed.
“There’s only one piece of this puzzle left and it is the one (that) has been most present on my mind since this all started,” Bramlett said. “Where will the new home of the Battleship Texas be? It is the most critical question I believe we face as an organization because if we get this wrong, there will be no turning back.”
The foundation is looking at multiple locations, including Beaumont, to be a home for the ship, but so far no city officially has submitted a proposal.
The ship’s repairs will happen in Galveston and are estimated to take about a year. At that point, it will be ready to move to its new home.
The foundation is unable to say how much Beaumont could have to spend to take on the ship. The city would have to consider not just docking the ship but also shoreline facilities.
But Bramlett was very clear about one thing: “Every spot that we have visited with somebody inevitably says, ‘Oh, we don’t want to get involved with The Battleship Texas because if it’s in our city then we are responsible to maintain it.’” he said. “I have no idea where that came from. It is totally false.”
The State of Texas owns the ship and is expected to pay maintenance fees, according to a letter from Texas Parks and Wildlife.
According to Beaumont City Manager Kyle Hayes, the rough estimate for docking the ship is $7 million dollars. In order to find a hard number, the council would need to have a full investigation done.
“So, the council needs to determine (if) you want to go out and hire a firm to give you that projected number and then to move forward with engineering,” Hayes said.
Bramlett said the ship likely would provide wo to 30 jobs, but there would be many more volunteers than employees.
Throughout Bramlett’s presentation, he stressed not only the work that would need to be done to prepare for the ship but also the availability of funding for certain projects.
“We have just over a million dollars in superstructure issues we need to address,” he said. “I’m also happy to tell you, as well, about a month and a half ago we received a half a million dollar federal grant to address some of that work.”
Bramlett said that he also has seen many instances where money could be raised quickly to take care of a national treasure.
Ward II Council member Mike Getz believes that the state of Texas would have a special interest in footing some of the bill to bring the ship to Beaumont.
“I think it’s incumbent upon the state of Texas to help with whatever infrastructure expenses are necessary to put the battleship wherever it’s ultimately going to go,” Getz said. “It’s probably not fair to saddle up any city, whether it be Bay County, Galveston or Beaumont with all those expenses because it is the state of Texas’ ship.”
Now it’s up to the council to decide if that’s what they want.
Written by Rachel Kersey