Barely a month after the Titanic, then world's most luxurious ocean liner, sank in the North Atlantic, another vessel, this one billed as the world's most powerful warship, slid down a giant ramp at a Newport News, Va., shipyard and into the water.
Today, exactly 100 years to the day, the Battleship Texas remains afloat -- albeit barely. Unlike the Titanic, no remote-control camera or deep-sea vehicle will be needed to wander its decks.
"It is amazing when you think about it," said Andy Smith, manager of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department battleship site east of Houston. "From what still exists, the bulk of the ship is still the same."
Authorized in 1910, the ship was officially named when launched May 18, 1912. The Texas formally joined the Navy two years later when it was commissioned.
It's now the only remaining U.S. battleship to survive World Wars I and II and the oldest of the eight existing, and obsolete, battlewagons.
In 1948, the Texas was decommissioned and came under care of the state. A berth at the San Jacinto Battleground was carved out of a swamp that empties into the Houston Ship Channel.
About five years ago, Texas voters approved a bond package that included money to save the deteriorating ship and ensure its long-term future. Officials hope to settle on a design that will fit a $29 million budget. Construction bidding is anticipated to start within a couple of years, and the target date for completion of the project is 2017.
In 2008, the storm surge from Hurricane Ike lifted the ship and allowed silt to fill its slip. When the water went down, the ship then rested on the bed of new silt. That muddy quicksandlike material has helped ease some of the flooding that requires removal of about a ton of water each day by pumps, compared with 9 tons before the hurricane.
The plan now being considered -- a dry berth -- would construct a berm around the ship and include a cofferdam to isolate it from the channel. Workers would get under the ship and dredge out the silt, replace it with granulated, controlled sand atop the natural clay bed, then level it out and drain the berth so the ship rests on the sand.
"The point is to put her in a condition where you stabilize her and quit the deterioration of her being in a brackish water environment, and you can make repairs in your time frame," Smith said.
He hopes to be able to find out early next month if the plan will fit the budget. A project on this scale never has been tried.
A birthday celebration is planned for Saturday, with invitations sent to as many as 500 crew members believed to be still alive. A man who joined the Navy at 16 in 1945 and was assigned to the Texas would now be in his 80s. At its peak, the ship had a crew of 1,800.
"At the end of the day, this is a hunk of steel," Smith said. "But what really makes it alive is those men who served aboard.
"We've lost all the World War I vets. We've come across few guys in the [later] war years, but they're passing. We're losing that direct connection between its active life and its inactive life."