Efforts to save the USS World War II museum ship The Sullivans are beginning to bear fruit, according to the rescue team. Several holes in the hull have been patched and the condition of the vessel is considered stable.
The USS museum ship The Sullivans suffered flooding on her starboard side and listed heavily on 13 April. A joint effort involving the US Coast Guard, T&T Salvage, local first responders, and the museum operator successfully kept the ship afloat and stable at its berth.
The team uses several rescue pumps to control the flooding, and divers use plugs, patches and epoxy to repair breaches in the ship’s aging hull. The Sullivans has long been known to need hull repairs, and a restoration effort to reinforce her hull with epoxy along the waterline began last year. It was to continue this spring, once water temperatures warmed enough to do the job.
High winds have caused delays in the external dive operation, but so far the dive team has found and patched around a dozen holes in the hull. Penetrations range in size from about 0.75 to 2.5 inches, according to Buffalo’s ABC affiliate.
“We find that the plugs and patches installed by divers actually work. We talked about divers installing 10 starboard plugs and three port plugs. So it all hangs together,” Capt. Lexia Littlejohn, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, said in a radio interview. “The list is actually less severe than it was. [at the start of the incident].”
Members of the recovery team remove historic artifacts from inside USS The Sullivans (Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park)
The condition of the ship is stable enough that the rescuers authorize a rescue mission inside the ship to recover historical artifacts. As a museum ship, the USS The Sullivans had many historic items on display, including the scale model of the ship itself. More than 40 objects were rescued in the hope of keeping them and returning them later.
The ship’s long-term prospects are also looking up: Last week, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Senate Majority Leader, said he would commit to finding federal funding to pay bailout and restoration. “Although the cleanup effort has already begun, it’s going to be an expense, and it shouldn’t be the city, county, or park that has to pay for it,” Sen. Schumer said.