The official tall ship of Texas is in trouble.  The iron and steel bottom of the three-masted 1877 barque Elissa is nearly rusted through in places, and that has forced the U.S. Coast Guard to declare the historic vessel is not seaworthy.

Officials at the Texas Seaport Museum in Galveston where the Elissa is berthed say they were astonished when a Coast Guard inspection earlier this year revealed the rotten hull.

Museum Assistant Director John Schaumburg says the ship is inspected in dry dock every two and a half years, but very little corrosion was found during the most recent dry dock in 2008.  That's why they're stunned by how bad the corrosion is now.

No one can say for sure what caused it, but they suspect it may have been caused by Hurricane Ike.  Elissa suffered only minor visible damage from that storm in September 2008,  but the worst damage was below the water line.

Sea water eats into metal, and they believe an electric current, possibly caused by an electric line dislodged by the storm, may have caused the rapid corrosion.

Whatever caused it, the ship can't sail again till it's repaired.  A total of 54 rusted hull plates must be replaced, and that's expected to take at least a year and cost a lot of money.  Schaumburg says if all goes as hoped, Elissa can be sailing again by this time next year.

The Texas Seaport Museum has hired a professional fundraiser to raise the needed money. People can also make $10 donations by texting 50555.  You can read more about the Elissa on the website: