Battleship Texas Receives WWII Paint Job


The Battleship USS Texas has reportedly received a new paint job to match its coloring while serving in World War II, as a part of a $60 billion repair project at a drydock in Galveston, Texas.

According to a report from Chron, the Battleship Texas Foundation, a nonprofit organization in charge of the ship’s maintenance and marketing, announced the new paint project along with news that steel repairs on the hull had been completed.

Maintenance History

The 573-foot-long by 95-foot-beam ship was the last remaining dreadnought-style vessel used in both world wars. Decommissioned in 1948, the USS Texas was the first U.S. battleship to be converted to a memorial museum.

By the late 1960s, the ship’s hull was leaking, with the wooden deck also rotting and leaking badly. In 1971, $50,000 in charitable funding helped the hull get sandblasted and painted. In 1988, the ship was towed to a Galveston dry dock, where it had 15 percent of its hull replaced at a cost of $15 million.

In 2007, Texas voters approved a $25 million bond to get the ship dry-berthed to try to halt deterioration, but the funds did not disburse until June of 2010. The wait resulted in a corroding hull and new leaks in the ship.

Then, in 2013, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department awarded a $17.5 million contract to Taylor Brothers Marine Construction Co., of Wilmington, North Carolina, for upkeep of the USS Texas. 

Two additional alternate work items were included as part of the final award amount.

The USS Texas was set to receive repairs on its deteriorating interior steel decking and its severely corroded framing along the bottom of the vessel. The framing served as a support for two engine rooms.

New steel framing was to be welded to the existing frame. Both the replacement deck and new steel frame were also to be abrasive blast-cleaned to a Near White finish (SSPC-SP 10) and coated with an epoxy system.

The project also included abating hazardous materials, including the ship's existing paint, which was presumed to contain lead and asbestos. Containment was required.

Officials had also reportedly estimated the cost of completely dry-berthing the ship at $80 million.

Then, in June 2017, the battleship was reportedly facing an uncertain future because of corrosion.

The battleship was closed down when crews at the LaPorte, Texas, the site where it was docked noticed the ship was off-kilter. A sudden leak had caused the vessel to list to one side, and an investigation began to turn up a number of holes.

Dive teams and emergency crews had to patch a 6-by-8-inch hole, the first of seven found. Later, a total of 13 holes had been uncovered, and water was still pouring into the ship, according to reports.

The USS Texas was reportedly dealing with corrosion everywhere on the ship, and another $17.5 million in repairs from a $25 million allocation in 2015 had been underway at the time, with a projected completion date in early 2018.

"This story is about the fight between water and steel, and water always wins that fight," Bruce Bramlett, Executive Director of the Battleship Texas Foundation, told the Houston Chronicle at the time.

Latest Updates

The hull was coated with a special epoxy to guard against corrosion. The new paint is reportedly in the traditional shade of 5-N Navy Blue, matched from existing samples taken from both inside and outside of the ship and mirrors the ship’s camouflage scheme when entering the Pacific Theater in WWII.

According to the report, the battleship participated in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, making the USS Texas one of only two museum ships currently decked out in their wartime coloring.

New hull numbers have also been painted to match their positioning in 1945, down to the font.

The foundation ended its update with the message “Live, Laugh, and Flood Your Torpedo Blisters,” which are protrusions built out from a ship’s hull to minimize the damage from a direct hit.

“Some troublesome areas were found once the ships was sandblasted, so additional repairs have been made,” the foundation said in its most recent announcement. “These areas will be blasted and coated before the ship submerges in the water once again.”

The foundation added that if the weather permits, this work could occur sometime in February. However, the ship still has some time before it will be ready for the trip across the harbor to its long-term home at Pier 21, which the foundation hopes will happen in early 2025.

Meanwhile, work has reportedly continued on the deck, superstructure, and aft fire control area.

Travis Davis, the foundation’s vice-president of ship operations, reportedly plans to speak about the repairs and anything else the public wants to know at 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Galveston Railroad Museum, the present home of the exhibit.

The event, called “Traveling on a City at Sea: The Story of the Battleship Texas,” is reportedly free with museum admission.

According to the release, visitors to the foundation’s website can also learn about the ship’s role as the flagship, under the command of Capt. Roy Pfaff, of the Northern Attack Group in Operation Torch, which in the fall of 1942 began to dislodge Axis forces from North Africa.

For the USS Texas, it was an important trial run for its work in Operation Overlord, better known as D-Day.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Coatings Technology; Corrosion; Corrosion protection; Historic Preservation; Marine; Marine Coatings; NA; North America; Program/Project Management; Protective Coatings; Rehabilitation/Repair; Salt exposure; Ships and vessels; U.S. Navy

Join the Conversation:

Sign in to our community to add your comments.