BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The U.S.S. The Sullivans is 95 percent righted, according to officials. They say more than 500,000 gallons of water were pumped out of the ship over the last three weeks. They have also removed more than 9,500 gallons of oil and water mix.
While removing water, crew members plugged 53 holes of various sizes. Some of them were no bigger than a dime Buffalo Naval Park CEO Paul Marzello said, but others were a few inches wide. The main problem was midship on the starboard side where crews found a line of holes and gashes that may have caused the listing. That is still under investigation.
“You’re talking about an 80-year-old ship that was meant to last 25 years. When you talk about permanent, how permanent is permanent?” Naval Park CEO and President Paul Marzello said in a news conference Thursday.
Members of the crew include Buffalo Naval Park, U.S. Coast Guard, Bidco, City of Buffalo officials, Erie County public works, and more.
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown has said from the beginning this would be an expensive operation, but that failure is not an option. There is no final itemized list of expenses at this time.
“We are going to look at Federal and State government, particularly Federal government for support,” Mayor Brown said. “But we suspect it will be in the millions of dollars.”
One main concern is the oil still on board the vessel. A small amount leaked out on May 3 and May 4, but the Coast Guard said it was contained by the booms surrounding the ship.
The Sullivans is staying in the water for now, but moving it to land is not out of the question.
“It was not a possibility until we had the hull repaired. That’s why we were under contract with Bidco. That’s why they started the job last summer,” Marzello added.
The future of the ship is still in question, but after 21 long days, the crews have made considerable progress. The ship is stable and floating.
“It was really nice to see it all come together as planned. So it was exciting,” Capt. Lexia Littlejohn of the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Marzello says this is a moment of jubilation that the ship is able to stand tall in the inner harbor once again.
“It’s tough to look back, to be honest with you. I’m looking at this video and the first half of that movie is disheartening and the second half is jubilation. So has it gotten to me? Yeah,” Marzello concluded.
Don’t give up the ship took on a whole new meaning during this mission on the waterfront. Officials say there is still work to be done, but it looks like The Sullivans has weathered the storm for now.
Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.