Galveston Daily News

Sponsors sought for submarine deck

By Carter Thompson
The Daily News

Published August 22, 2002

GALVESTON — The Lucky Lady will no longer be seen topless at Seawolf Park.

Crews are about a week away from finishing the installation of a wood deck on the U.S.S. Cavalla, the World War II submarine nicknamed the Lucky Lady by her crew after she sank one of the Japanese aircraft carriers that attacked Pearl Harbor. The crumbling superstructure that supported the deck had been the most visible sign of neglect of the submarine, which has been restored during the last two years by submarine veterans, the Galveston Park Board of Trustees and an army of volunteers.

“It looks like a submarine again,” said Gil Raynor, secretary of the Cavalla Historical Foundation, the nonprofit organization formed to restore the Cavalla and the U.S.S. Stewart, a destroyer escort also at the park. The crews are laying down about 1,000 boards made out of purple heart, a South African wood similar to teak.

To help defray the cost, the Cavalla Historical Foundation is selling sponsorships for each board for $50. Sponsors will be recognized as “plank owners,” the traditional Navy phrase for a new ship’s first crew. Those sponsors will be recognized on a display in a museum the foundation plans to build between the Cavalla and Stewart. Plans already have been drawn up for the museum that will resemble the old quarantine stations on Pelican Island, but construction will have to wait until the foundation raises the $1.6 million needed to build it.

The foundation also aims to complete repairs on the Stewart. As always, the foundation will depend on volunteers who travel here from across the nation to shoulder much of the load. “Without them, it wouldn’t be where it is,” said John McMichael, the chief of the boat, who supervises the work on the ships.

The foundation also is having a sleepover program, in which youth groups can spend a night in the Stewart, taking private tours and watching World War II movies.

How to help Those interested in sponsoring a 10-foot length of deck planking can send $50 to the Cavalla Historical Foundation, 2504 Church St., Galveston 77554.

For more information on the sleepover program, call John McMichael at (409) 744-7854 or (409) 770-3196