CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (WIVB) – Kelly Sullivan wanted to carry around an extra bit of good luck Friday. So she wore the Sullivan crest around her neck.

“I have all the confidence it will happen,” she said of the righting USS The Sullivans in the Buffalo River.

Much like others Western New York and around the nation, Sullivan learned the decommissioned WWII destroyer – named after her grandfather and great uncles, who died serving on the USS Juneau in 1942 – was partially sinking and listing on Thursday.

“There were lots of tears yesterday, lots of tears,’ she said. “I had to quit looking at the pictures because it upset me too much and made me cry.

“It’s hard to explain how you get connected to a ship,” she added. “In the Navy, they call the ship a she, and it’s like it’s a real person.”

Sullivan has been a regular visitor to Western New York and the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. She was part of efforts to raise money last year after it was discovered that the ship’s hull needed repairs. But she never thought it would come to this.

“Never did I dream that would happen,” she said. “This has been an ongoing problem for quite some time. But the Naval Park has done a great job of having people come out to take care of her.”

Now an entire crew is at work taking care of her. Naval Park officials believed Friday that changing winds would raise the Buffalo River by five or six feet, potentially making the ship buoyant again. But that could create more uncertainty.

“She’s very top-heavy right now,” said Naval Park President and CEO Paul Marzello. “Listing toward starboard, listing toward the right, being top heavy, we don’t know what that’s going to mean.”

Hundreds of miles away from her home in Iowa, Sullivan is asking for prayers for those working on the ship. She is rooting for their success so she can show the next generation of Sullivans a piece of family history.

“That is my goal,” Sullivan said. “I want to be able to take my grandkids there some day.”

Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who joined the News 4 team in December 2017. See more of his work here.