One of the most recognizable attractions in Alabama is getting an upgrade after more than eight decades in the water.

The battleship USS Alabama, which draws thousands of visitors annually at its berth just east of downtown Mobile, is being outfitted with a new teak deck. Members of the commission that oversees the battleship and an adjoining park announced the $8.5 million project this past week.

Built in 1940, the ship served in World War II and was decommissioned. It was moved to the Alabama coast, and Battleship Memorial Park opened in 1965.

While teak wood lasts a long time, the decking on the ship is showing wear and signs of age. The commission plans to raise money to cover the cost of replacing the roughly 23000 square feet (2,137 square meters) of teak that covers the ship's metal hull.

“The project has five phases," said Bill Tunnell, chair of the 18-member commission. “The plan was carefully drafted to allow our visitors maximum access to the deck, with an exception of the current working area. The safety of our visitors and park staff is paramount.”

Work is expected to take about three years.