The mission to #SaveTheSullivans has officially transitioned from an Emergency Response Phase to a Maintenance and Decontamination Phase as the recovery efforts progress. As of today, divers have plugged a total of 51 holes in the hull, and crew members have removed approximately 95% of the water from the ship. We will continue to monitor water levels and pump out the remaining water. At its most critical point, USS The Sullivans DD-537 was listing to almost 30 degrees; it is now at a 0.1-degree list.
As we move into the next phase, the number of workers on-site will be reduced as assignments and objectives are completed and some of the equipment has been removed. BIDCO Marine Group will continue to work with us to complete the 2-part epoxy repair to the hull that was started last summer. We would like to thank the men and women who came to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park from across the country to help Save the Sullivans, and to the community that provided so much support in all forms. There is still more work to do, but we have much to be grateful for.
First, the flooding is at least being controlled and the ship is slowly dewatering after several hull patches have been applied. Her list is slowly correcting.
Next, a lot of irreplaceable relics– that did not get harmed– have been removed and safely stored ashore.
“At least 40 key artifacts have been removed safely from the ship completely unharmed, including a scale model of the ship, pictures of the Sullivan brothers, artifacts from the Sullivan family church in Waterloo, Iowa, historic flags, and the Sullivan family tree.”
The call to action raised what, most thought, was more than enough money to fix the problem. Initially, $100,000 was asked for, with over a million brought in along with a $500,000 grant called “Save America’s Treasures” from the National Parks Service.
Well, the repairs weren’t complete and now the old girl is in rough shape.
Like, really rough shape:
USS The Sullivans DD537, April 13 2022, via United States Coast Guard Sector Buffalo
USS The Sullivans DD537 April 13 2022 via United States Coast Guard Sector Buffalo
In November 2021, with the help and support of our community in Buffalo and throughout the country, we officially reached our goal of raising $1 million to help Save the Sullivans and repair the hull. For over a year, we have been working with BIDCO Marine Group to assess the hull and make a plan to preserve and repair USS The Sullivans, incorporating a hull survey they completed in 2018. Divers were in the water last summer and fall to begin work using a Navy-approved two-part epoxy, but once the water temperature dropped below 54 degrees they had to pause for the winter. The plan is still for that work to resume once the temperature increases.
The breach that occurred yesterday appears to be a new issue and we are working diligently to understand the cause and address it as quickly as possible. We will provide additional updates as we learn more from the initial assessments. We appreciate everyone’s support and the offers to help. This is truly the City of Good Neighbors and this historic ship continues to guide us to stick together.
The good news is that there are only about five feet of lake water under her hull this time of year, so she can’t totally submerge, just settle into the mud.
Just as long as she doesn’t turn turtle. Then it’s likely scrap time.
It seems the best solution for these old girls, long term, is to bring them wholly ashore such as with the submarine USS Drum in Mobile Bay…
…or set them in a dry-dock hybrid cradle such as with USS Kidd (also, like The Sullivans, a Fletcher) in Baton Rouge.
USS KIDD (DD-661) at rest in her cradle in downtown Baton Rouge, LA, USA, where she now serves as a museum — August 2021. This allows her to remain stable as the Mississippi rises and falls over the course of a year. (Photo copyright Hunter Svetanics; used by permission)
The Fletcher-class destroyer USS The Sullivans (DD-537) was launched at Bethleham Steel on 4 April 1943, sponsored by the grieving Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, mother of the five late Sullivan brothers, and was commissioned five months later. The brothers Sullivan had requested (“We will make a team together that can’t be beat,” one had written) to be ship out together and joined the light cruiser Juneau (CL-52) at the New York Navy Yard on 3 February 1942, just before that ship’s commissioning, and were all lost just before Thanksgiving in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
The destroyer received nine battle stars for World War II and two for Korean service. Laid up in 1965 at Philadelphia, in 1977, she and cruiser Little Rock (CG-4) were processed for donation to the city of Buffalo, N.Y., where they now serve as a memorial.