LA PORTE, Texas — Battleship Texas has a storied history as the last surviving battleship to serve in both World Wars, a source of pride for those who love it most.
"Battleship Texas is one of the most iconic things in Texas, the U.S., the world," Bruce Bramlett with the Battleship Texas Foundation told us. "Talking about the only surviving ship that served in WWI and WWII."
Now after calling the San Jacinto Battleground in La Porte home for more than seven decades, the iconic battleship is about to ship out for repairs before it is moved to its new home. The $35 million makeover will be done in Galveston after getting approval from state lawmakers in 2019.
"You know, I can only speak for me, I've always had a love of history," Bramlett said. "We don't have to forget our heroes and icons of history, and certainly the battleship Texas is one of them."
As the Battleship Texas tour guide, he took us on a journey back in time.
The old battleship was first launched in 1912. Five years later, it earned a niche in naval aviation history as the first American battleship to launch an aircraft and serve as a plane guard.
"The battleship Texas, at this time, was considered the finest ship in the Navy," Bramlett said. "You're looking again at a piece of history that was at just about every major battle of WWII. So, if she could talk, you'd go tell me the stories about being at D-day, North Africa, Iwo Jima."
"The crisis in Asia and Europe saved the historic ship from becoming a scrap heap."
She was scheduled for retirement in 1938. But ended up being fitted out instead with the first experimental radar -- and joined several other American ships on neutrality patrols in the North Atlantic.
"The crew without this ship is a bunch of guys in the water looking for a lifejacket. But when you put those two together, and I've heard these men, they share the memories, the stories about their time on this ship. I can't imagine not saving it," Bramlett explained.
For years, the Battleship Texas has been one of the state’s biggest tourist attractions. But time has taken a toll. Numerous leaks in the hull have closed the once-popular tourist attraction, except for special occasions.
"It's been a long time coming."
The battleship hasn't been moved since 1988 when it also underwent repairs in Galveston. Where it’ll end up permanently after the repairs are completed is still undecided.
The well-worn war hero is not done fighting to stay afloat some 110 years after it first went to sea.