Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News
In upstate New York, political figures, civic organizations, and military and civilian experts have combined forces in an effort to prevent the sinking of the ship that bears the name of the family whose sacrifice proved a rallying cry during World War II.
As reported by WKBW, Buffalo’s ABC affiliate, the USS The Sullivans began taking on water and sinking in place at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park Thursday.
The Sullivans, named after five brothers who all died on the same day during World War II, has a history of fighting leaks and has needed hull repairs since at least February 2021.
The military park has raised more than $1 million to complete those repairs, but the ship began taking on large amounts of water before those repairs could be completed.
“She is a gift to Buffalo, New York,” Naval Park President Paul Marzello said during a conference. “And she represents the courage and the honor and the commitment, of not only the five Sullivan boys who that ship is named after, but the thousands of veterans that have served this country.”
Images and videos emerged Thursday that showed the ship tilting back and toward its moorings and the deck submerging below the waterline, causing unknown damage to the museum on board.
BREAKING: CEO of Buffalo Naval Park says divers are investigating possible holes or rips on the aft of midship on starboard side of USS The Sullivans.
— Michael Schwartz (@MSchwartzTV) April 14, 2022
On Monday, NBC affiliate WGRZ reported that a Navy architect and civilian marine salvage company had joined the effort to help save the ship.
As reported by WIVB, a CBS affiliate, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) visited the park on Monday to pledge his support in the form of working to secure federal funds to help the recovery effort.
“We cannot let the Sullivans’ stories sink into the abyss,” Schumer said at a press conference, referring to the brothers whose name the ship bears.
The Sullivans is not only sinking, but leaking contaminants into Lake Erie, an issue Schumer said required the assistance of the Environmental Protection Agency.
While not as prominent in the modern era, there was a time when the name Sullivan brought about the most patriotic of feelings for Americans.
Five Sullivan brothers – George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert – were all lost on Nov. 13, 1942, when their ship, the USS Juneau, was sunk during the Battle of Guadalcanal.
The brothers, natives of Iowa, came to be the embodiment of the American call for total commitment to the war effort, and a photo of the brothers aboard the Juneau was used on numerous U.S. military posters and advertisements.
In 1943, the USS The Sullivans, a Fletcher-class destroyer, was launched in San Francisco, and the ship went into service in early 1944. It served throughout the Pacific theater in World War II and later was used in the Korean War.
All told, The Sullivans won 11 battle stars, nine during the Second World War and two during the Korean War.
The ship was decommissioned in 1965 and was moved to its current location in 1977.