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Texas Clipper Update

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is almost out of options, in its

search for a way to correct the botched sinking of a WWII era ship in the

Gulf of Mexico last year. Jim Bell reports.


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Texas A&M Maritime Academy’s old retired training ship the Texas Clipper was scuttled and sent to the bottom of the Gulf off Corpus Christi in November of last year. Parks and Wildlife spent four million dollars cleaning the ship and stripping her out so she could become an artificial reef and a platform for divers, but parks department official Dale Shively says something went wrong during the sinking.

“Wind was hitting the starboard, or the right hand side, so started to list to the left, and basically wound up on the bottom on its side.”

So much for the best laid schemes of mice and men. The Clipper is fast becoming an artificial reef, but Shively says she’s not completely safe for divers. She is attracting divers, but nowhere near as many as she would sitting upright. Unfortunately, turning her upright would cost more than it cost to clean it and sink it, as much as six million dollars. Shively says when he got those numbers he contacted the Navy, which has experience in undersea salvage.

“We’ve talked with them about the possibility of looking at this as a training exercise to see whether they may be interested in designing the uprighting, using salvage divers and bringing in their equipment to do this.”

Shively says the Navy is still thinking about it, and that’s where it stands today. If the Navy says no thanks, it’s the end of the story for the Texas Clipper.

“It would be really hard for me to convince the staff here, the management, that I need to spend six million dollars to pull the ship over, when we spent over four to get it down there.”

Jim Bell, KUHF, Houston Public Radio News.

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