Let s get this straight: Sam Houston defeated Santa Ana without the benefit of a battleship.
So what s the Battleship Texas doing next to the San Jacinto battleground?
Sure, most of us alive today have never seen the Texas anywhere else. But the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy is on a seemingly quixotic quest to tell Texans their namesake warship is retired in a historically inappropriate place. And truth be told, they d just as soon see it moved somewhere else.
It s like a Huey at Gettysburg, says Jan DeVault, the president of the San Jacinto Battleground Conservancy.
Sounds like a joke, but she s serious. Now that workers have pretty much finished patching the latest leaks in the battleship s hull they hope to re-open for the Fourth of July DeVault wants the state to study what it would take to move the Texas somewhere else.
If we were to berth the ship today in 2012, we would not berth it on an 1836 battlefield, she says. We wouldn t do it.
The Texas first sailed up the Houston Ship Channel in 1948, pulling into a slip carved out of a campsite once occupied by soldiers who fought in the Battle of San Jacinto. From the moment it arrived, the battleship stood as a twentieth century backdrop for a nineteenth century battle site.
Now tourists visiting the ship park their cars adjacent to gravesites of the dead from the Texas War for Independence. Archeologists digging for 19th century battlefield artifacts recall hearing loudspeakers on the battleship playing The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.
What you hear most often is from kids, they ll say, Oh, no wonder Sam Houston won. Look at the ship! DeVault says.
But as the most recent leaks spewing water into the ship s hull have proven, the Texas really isn t the same warship that helped defeat the Kaiser, the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese Navy.
Indeed, the last time she sailed up the ship channel returning from dry dock repairs in 1990, tugboats had a hard time keeping her under control.
If we attempted to hook onto this ship with tugs and pull it out into the channel, we would do tremendous damage to it, says Bruce Bramlett, who heads the Battleship Texas Foundation. And even if it didn t come apart, as soon as we got it out in water that s deep enough, we would sink it right here in the channel.
Sinking a battleship in the Houston Ship Channel would be a very bad thing, potentially closing the Port of Houston until the wreckage could be raised.
It s here and this is where it belongs, Bramlett says. And this is where it needs to stay. And even we all agree, Hey, let s fix it and put it somewhere else, it s just not doable. The ship is no longer seaworthy.
Supporters of the ship also argue that moving it somewhere else would expose the Texas to other hazards. Berthing it in Galveston would expose it to harsher seawater and heavier seas during hurricanes. Moving it up to Houston would place it inside the higher security areas of the port.
There s no need for her to go anyplace else, says Andy Smith of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which oversees the battleship. She s in the perfect location.
Now the big battleship launched a month after the Titanic faces an uncertain future. But both sides in the location controversy agree that the Texas needs to go into dry berth, permanently raising it out of the water that s causing its corrosion.