Tall Ship Elissa Repair Effort Gets FEMA Boost

Elissa won’t be heading offshore again until critical hull repairs are made. Photo by Rob Lucey
Elissa won’t be heading offshore again until critical hull repairs are made. Photo by Rob Lucey

More than $1.4 million has been awarded to the state of Texas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help repair storm damage to the historic 1877 tall ship Elissa. The ship’s iron hull was corroded by stray current in Galveston Harbor after Hurricane Ike hit the island in 2008.

The funding will cover the services needed for the repair work so that the vessel can continue its role as the official tall ship of Texas.

“The Elissa is a National Historic Landmark and should be treated as such,” said FEMA Region 6 Acting Administrator Tony Robinson. “We are proud to support our state and local partners as they repair this Texas treasure and restore it to sailing condition.”

FEMA’s contribution is made possible by a Public Assistance grant. FEMA awards funding for projects directly to the state governments, and the states then forward the grants to the eligible applicants.

Ship manager Jamie White said Elissa would take the 12-mile trip to Bollinger Shipyard in Texas City in early September. The $1.9 million hull repair was expected to take two months to complete.

The three-masted barque first visited the Galveston seaport in 1883 and 1886 during her years as a commercial freight hauler. That tie prompted the Galveston Historical Foundation to rescue the ship from a Greek scrap yard and bring it to the island in 1979. A three-year restoration effort turned Elissa into what as regarded as one of the best preserved 19th century vessels in the world, and one of only three still sailing.

But the debilitating deterioration from electrolysis was revealed during a regular dry dock trip in January 2010.

GHF is raising a total of $3 million, the balance of which will fund much-needed deck repairs. Douglas fir planks are being milled and cured in Vancouver before being shipped to Texas for installation after Elissa returns to the Texas Seaport Museum in November. To help, visit ghf.destinationnext.com/donation.aspx.