Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy 2009 and a Seawolf Park Update

Happy New Year to all Wahoo aficionados!

Hurricane Ike remains the weather event of 2008 that keeps on giving. I caught a glimpse of this story on our local news the other night and finally had a chance to get the particulars.

Boat under USS Stewart complicates recovery

By Leigh Jones The Daily News

Published December 29, 2008

GALVESTON — Members of the Cavalla Historical Foundation expected to find silt and some storm debris under the USS Stewart when crews working to right the ship started pumping water out from under it.

But as the water line receded, they discovered the World War II-era destroyer escort was sitting on another boat, an unwelcome surprise that has complicated efforts to put the popular tourist attraction back in its berth.

Hurricane Ike lifted the ship out of its resting place at Seawolf Park when it made landfall Sept. 13.

During what must have been a pretty wild ride, the storm’s 12-foot surge wedged the smaller boat under the Stewart, trapping it below the ship when the floodwaters subsided, Curator John McMichael said.

They hoped to discover the boat belonged to someone with pockets deep enough to help pay to get it back, McMichael joked, but no such luck. Crews were able to uncover the boat enough to see that it has a green hull and still has bumpers hanging over its side, but they were not able to find a name or any other identifying markings on it, he said. Based on its 11-foot-wide stern, McMichael thinks the boat is about 25 feet long. It likely came from somewhere on the Bolivar Peninsula, he said.

Although it would be interesting to know for sure where the boat came from, and they still hope to find a name somewhere near the bow when they finally get it out from under the Stewart, it won’t really make a difference to the salvage effort, McMichael said. The biggest problem is figuring out how to get it out, he said. Several companies have submitted proposals for the work, and on Tuesday, Galveston’s Park Board of Trustees, which manages Seawolf Park and partners with the foundation to keep the Stewart open to the public, will hire one of them.

Because the ship still floats, lifting it up again enough to remove the smaller boat shouldn’t be too difficult, said Ernie Connor, a member of both the park board and the historical foundation. The work should be complete by spring break, McMichael said.

Although Ike also lifted the USS Cavalla out of its berth, the submarine is stable enough that the foundation does not intend to try to move it, Connor said. The silt and sand trapped under the submarine lifted it about 6 feet higher than it was and moved it about 9 feet back, Connor said. The extra elevation helped expose all four torpedo tubes, something visitors couldn’t see before, Connor said. Once crews finish righting the Stewart, the foundation will build a new gangplank to the Cavalla and open the hatch again for tours, he said.

Thousands of visitors come to Seawolf Park every year to visit both the Cavalla and the Stewart, which was added to the National Register of Historic Places earlier this year.

Like much of the Ike recovery work, officials hope the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help pay to right the Stewart and make repairs to the rest of the display around the ship and the submarine. If the government doesn’t come through, the foundation will be looking for donations, McMichael said.

During World War II, the United States Navy had 750 destroyer escorts built. The USS Stewart is one of only three left. Two of them are serving as museum ships in the United States, but the third one is still in service in the Mexican Navy.

Donations to the Cavalla Historical Foundation can be sent to 2504 Church St., Galveston, TX 77550.
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About Me

The first 'grown up' book Paul Crozier ever read was "War Fish" by George Grider. Since then he has spent most of his life researching the U.S. Submarine Force in WWII and USS Wahoo (SS-238) in particular.


This blog is dedicated to all who have served in the U.S. Submarine Force. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

"We shall never forget it was our submarines that held the line against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."

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