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Battleship Texas arrives at temporary home in Galveston for months-long repairs

The journey is part of a $35 million project to repair the hull and ultimately restore the ship to its former glory.

HOUSTON — The historic Battleship Texas is heading to Galveston from the San Jacinto Battleground Site for much-needed repairs Wednesday.

Watching history in the making was such an exciting moment for those who came out Wednesday morning to see the battleship ship off.

World War II veteran attends sendoff for Battleship Texas

The moment was especially emotional for Julio Zaccagni, a World War II veteran who served on board the iconic ship.

"Very exciting day... I didn't think I’d ever see a day like this,” he said. “It's quite rewarding to me."

The veteran is 100 years old and said he served on board the USS Texas from February 1940 to July 1942. He made the journey for the sendoff with his son to see the iconic ship.

"I'm happy to see it still afloat,” he said. "It used to be a real... first class ship when I was onboard it. I'm glad they're going to fix it."

Dan Zaccagni, his son, said he had been visiting the historic ship since he was 4 years old.

"It's great they're going to restore this ship because it's in really bad shape. So we're really happy to see them doing this,” he said.

The ship is full of history and memories that will live on.

"It's been an honor to be here...really," Julio said.

Dan said his dad was so excited to see the sendoff that he didn't get much sleep the night before. However, they said it was totally worth it and they were so glad to witness the historic moment.

Watch Battleship Texas arrive in Galveston:

A view from the Battleship Texas Foundation live stream as it took its journey to Galveston:

Motorists line up on Fred Hartman Bridge to see Battleship Texas

One of the best spots to get a look at the Battleship Texas as it headed toward Galveston was on the Fred Hartman Bridge over the Houston Ship Channel. However, they were not allowed to stay long as traffic cops urged them to clear the area.

RELATED: Deep dive into history: Iconic Battleship Texas is the last ship to survive both world wars

When will the Battleship Texas move?

Tony Gregory, the president of the Battleship Texas Foundation, said Wednesday the pulling of the ship by tugboats and getting it on its way was perfect. He said any problems would have happened in the first 15 minutes of pulling the ship but there were no issues.

“It went smoother than we thought and quicker than we thought … and she’s gone, down the channel,” he said.

Gregory said he expects the ship to arrive in Galveston by 4 p.m.

RELATED: Battleship Texas Foundation announces shipyard where repairs will happen

The journey from its longtime berth at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in La Porte is part of a $35 million project to repair the hull and ultimately restore the ship to its former glory.

The ship’s repairs are part of the foundation’s plans to eventually resettle it in a new location in Texas, possibly in one of three nearby cities, including Galveston, in order to attract more visitors and increase revenue.

Moving the ship for repairs is “the major step in getting the ship back to tip-top shape,” Gregory said Tuesday as he stood on the vessel while workers made final preparations.

The battleship will be pulled by four tugboats at a pace of about 5 knots per hour. The 40-mile journey to Galveston was expected to take about nine hours and won’t be without risk as the ship’s hull could leak enough to sink it.

“Once we get going, I anticipate it being pretty smooth... We feel like we’re prepared,” Gregory said.

Since 1948, the USS Texas has been located at the state's historic site where the decisive battle in the Texas Revolution was fought. There, it’s served as a museum and tourist attraction. The battleship was previously taken to the same shipyard in Galveston for repairs in 1988.

For the last three years, the ship has been closed to the public as the foundation has been preparing for repairs. In 2019, the Texas Legislature approved the $35 million to fix the hull. The foundation is planning to make other fixes which it’s paying for. All the repairs are expected to take up to a year to complete.

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