Battleship Texas Almost Sinks Again; Saved By Stuffing Rags In Holes

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The Battleship Texas made it through World Wars I and II, but she almost lost it over the weekend.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department said today that the ship sprung a leak, and only the stuffing of rags into holes -- and furious pumping -- kept the ship afloat.

Sure, she would have just settled into the mud, not exactly gone under like Titanic with stunt bodies bouncing off bollards, but still....rags?

"Currently, a rag and pumps are keeping her afloat," said Justin Rhodes, regional director of the TPWD area that includes the San Jacinto site of the ship. "The sooner we get her out of the water, the better."

Last Thursday, officials say, an employee leaving for the night noticed the ship to be sitting a little lower in the water than usual. By the next morning, it was obvious the Texas had sunk an additional two or three feet.

A leak on the starboard side was discovered, near a burned-out pump. Bad combination.

More than 100,000 gallons spilled into the ship, causing yet another leak when seams on the hull separated.

The water was pumped out and, TPWD says, "as a temporary fix, a rag was stuffed in the starboard leak, which is now above the waterline."

"This worrisome incident, which we fortunately succeeded in bringing under control, underscores the importance of moving forward rapidly with plans to place the Texas in a dry-berth," said Carter Smith, TPWD executive director. "I'm just glad our folks at the park showed a lot of resourcefulness in preventing the situation from getting out of hand."

Plans for dry-berthing the ship are in place; the state is currently negotiating design fees. A dry-berth is expected to be in place by 2014, the centennial of the ship's launching.

No rags will be needed from that point on, you hope.

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