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Video: Salvage of WWII Destroyer USS The Sullivans Completed

The sullivans
Courtesy Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park

Published May 2, 2022 6:02 PM by The Maritime Executive

Salvors have successfully rescued the museum ship USS The Sullivans, which partially sank at her berth in Buffalo, New York last month. 

The hull of the aging WWII-era destroyer was in deteriorating condition, and on April 14, she began to flood from water entering through more than a dozen holes on her starboard quarter. Thanks to an emergency effort by local firefighters, state responders, the U.S. Coast Guard and T&T Salvage, her condition was stabilized using dewatering pumps, plugs and patches. 

On Friday, the U.S. Coast Guard released a time-lapse video showing the vessel's successful refloat. Using 22 industrial pumps, the team removed water from three designated sections of the hull in a carefully-planned sequence to avoid any damage to the ship's fragile structure. She has now been returned to an even keel and her heavy starboard list has been corrected. During her most precarious moments in mid-April, USS The Sullivans was listing almost 30 degrees to starboard, and she is now at a stable 0.1 degree list. 

"The mission to save The Sullivans has officially transitioned from an emergency response phase to a maintenance and decontamination phase as the recovery efforts progress," said the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in a statement. "As of today, divers have plugged a total of 51 holes in the hull and crew members have removed approximately 95 percent of the water from the ship. We will continue to monitor water levels and pump out the remaining water."

Next, the park will work with contractor BIDCO Marine Group to finish an epoxy repair project on the hull, which was started last summer and was slated to resume at about the same time that the vessel began to sink.