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Crews Try to Save The Sullivans

World War II destroyer, named for 5 brothers, is taking on water
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 14, 2022 7:30 PM CDT
Crews Try to Save The Sullivans
Crews attend the vintage ship USS The Sullivans on Thursday in Buffalo.   (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

A decommissioned World War II-era destroyer docked near downtown Buffalo was taking on water and listing perilously on Thursday. Crews were working to keep the USS The Sullivans from sinking at its berth at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, where it had been open for tours. Part of the leaning vessel's deck had dipped below the waterline by midday, the AP reports. "We’ve got a committed group down here. We're not going to give up the ship, and failure is not an option," said park President Paul Marzello. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, a Buffalo native, tweeted that state agencies were onsite and ready "to help revive this treasure and symbol of perseverance."

Marzello said they believe there was a breach on the right side of the hull Wednesday night. He said crews trying to stabilize the 79-year-old vessel are pumping out up to 13,000 gallons a minute. "I think we've seen the worst, but I don't know," he said. The USS The Sullivans, a National Historic Landmark, was named in honor of the five Sullivan brothers from Waterloo, Iowa. The brothers were killed in action in November 1942 when the USS Juneau was sunk by Japanese forces in the South Pacific during World War II. It already was the Navy's policy to separate brothers, per the Des Moines Register, but George, Frank, Joe, Matt, and Al Sullivan enlisted in January 1942 on the condition that they serve together.

George and Frank Sullivan had already served in the Navy and been discharged, but they reenlisted when their brothers joined, after the death of a friend in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy later said the ship's executive officer repeatedly had asked the brothers to allow themselves to be split up. Their story inspired a movie in 1944, and their parents gave speeches around the country. More than $1 million was raised last year to repair the ship’s breached hull; after a winter pause, repairs were to resume Monday, Marzello said. The USS The Sullivans is one of four decommissioned Naval vessels at the park. (More Navy stories.)

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