Seawolf Park is located in Galveston, Texas, at the easternmost tip of Pelican Island. Aside from the usual park amenities like a playground and picnic areas, Seawolf Park has two main attractions: its fishing pier and its naval exhibit.
While entrance to the park is free, a parking pass costs $5. Admission to the naval exhibits also runs $5 per person ($2 for children under 11). The fishing pier is privately-run, and requires a $4 fee (again, $2 for kids under 11) if you plan to fish.
Outside of Galveston, Seawolf Park is best known for its naval exhibit. Two World War II-era warships are in permanent drydock at the park: USS Cavalla and USS Stewart. The ships, in various states of restoration, are open to self-guided tours. Several plaques line the walkway to Cavalla detailing the history of USS Seawolf, the famous WWII submarine for which the park has been named. Strangely, none of the plaques mention either Cavalla (which has an illustrious record of its own) or Stewart. For this reason, many who visit the park mistakenly refer to Cavalla as "The Seawolf." Long term plans for the site include the full restoration of the Stewart and the construction of a museum dedicated to anti-submarine warfare between the two vessels.
- USS Cavalla (SSK-244) - The Cavalla is a Gato-class diesel-electric submarine that saw service in the Pacific theater during World War II, and later served during the Cold War as a sub-hunter. She was retired from service in the United States Navy in 1969, and transferred to the "Submarine Seawolf Commission" (a group of WWII submarine veterans) and the City of Galveston in 1971. Cavalla is best known for single-handedly sinking the Japanese aircraft carrier Shokaku on her maiden voyage. Since being laid-up at the park, Cavalla has been extensively restored, and is a must-see for any naval history buff visiting the Houston or Galveston areas.
- USS Stewart (DE-238) - Unlike its immediate neighbor, the WWII Edsall-class destroyer escort USS Stewart is in miserable shape. While a great deal of money and effort has been put into restoring the sub, Stewart has been largely neglected and has suffered at the hands of the elements and vandals. Corrosion has worn away at the ship's hull and thieves have stolen anything not bolted to the ship's superstructure (including, sadly, the ship's bell). Stewart had an uneventful service record in the North Atlantic and Caribbean during World War II, suffering much more damage to mechanical failure and rough seas than enemy action. After the war, she was mothballed until 1972 when the same group of submariners that obtained Cavalla purchased Stewart from death row for $1.00. There are efforts underway to remove Stewart from Seawolf Park to protect her from any further damage, as she is only one of three surviving USN destroyer escorts of her era.
For locals, Seawolf Park's main attraction is its fishing pier, which extends approximately 150 yards into Galveston Bay. The pier is lighted, and during the summer it is open 24 hours. Fishermen and fisherwomen come in search of sea bass, sea trout, marlin and flounder. Fishers are limited to two poles per person, and no cast nets are allowed.
The pier also offers sightseers the chance to glimpse ships of all sizes passing through the busy waters of Galveston Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. These include the ferry coming from the Bolivar Peninsula, tankers headed to the refineries located along the bay's western shore and pleasure craft. Also of note is the SS Selma, a partially-submerged shipwreck that can be observed from the pier. The Selma was one of the concrete ships built at the end of World War I. After running aground in Tampico, Mexico, she was towed to Galveston for repairs and eventually scuttled on the shallows to the east of Pelican Island.
When in Galveston, turn north from Broadway onto 51st Street. Continuing on 51st will take you across a causeway and drawbridge to Pelican Island. The road, now called Seawolf Parkway, will lead you eastward across the island until you reach the park.
1. I-45's southern terminus (the point where the Interstate officially ends, or "Exit Zero") is in Galveston. At this point, I-45 becomes Galveston's Broadway. 51st Street is one mile east of this point.
2. Houston's ABC affiliate maintains a Web cam at Seawolf Park. It is located at:
USS Cavalla Website - http://www.cavalla.org/
USS STEWART DE-238 - http://users3.ev1.net/~de238/stewart/stewartindex.html
USS Stewart (DE-238) - http://www.de220.com/DE%20Index/DE238%20Stewart/Stewart%20Visit.htm
Seawolf Park on Pelican Island - http://www.cityofgalveston.org/recreation/beaches_seawolf.cfm
"SS Selma * Reviving Memories * By Richard W. Steiger" - http://www.crystalbeach.com/selma.htm