BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The spectacle of USS The Sullivans at the Buffalo Waterfront is bringing people from not only Western New York, but tourists who want to see the ship for themselves as well, bringing business to Downtown Buffalo.
Crews have been working to save the ship for nine days, and the mantra is still the same: “failure is not an option.” Western New Yorkers continue to descend on the Naval Park to see the beloved vessel and watch those working on The Sullivans attempt to right the ship.
“It seems that tragedy grabs people’s focuses, and you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone,” Frank Corbett, a veteran who served in the U.S. Air Force, said.
Many residents that spoke with News 4 said the park and The Sullivans have been treasured landmarks in Buffalo for decades. They want the ship righted so future generations can appreciate her story.
“It’s part of Buffalo history we need to keep it here,” Kelly Baer added.
Naval Park President Paul Marzello said he has spoken with a lot of visitors and explained the history of the ship to them. He recalled meeting a young girl and telling her the story of the five Sullivan brothers, who gave the ultimate sacrifice.
He’s even spoken with visiting crew members, who are working daily to save the ship, about its story. Marzello said that during a morning briefing, he showed the crews a video the Naval Park made, called “We Stick Together,” which describes the history of the vessel and why it means so much to Buffalo.
“Yes, we’re trying to preserve her,” Marzello said. “But it’s so we can tell these stories and educate the public.”
Liberty Hound Restaurant’s patio overlooks The Sullivans, and many customers chose to eat there because of the view.
“We just opened [for the season] Wednesday,” Frank Perna, front of house manager at Liberty Hound, said. “The only place you can get in to see the ship is through Liberty Hound.”
But many people that were in Downtown Buffalo Saturday said they are appreciating their history more now than ever before.
“When I drive down Erie Street and see that flag, my heart fills with pride,” Marzello continued. “There’s a lot of people that are coming out of the woodwork since we’ve been here, and I know I’m not the only one who feels like this.”
“To learn about the ship, the history and where the USS The Sullivans comes from, that’s very important for our history and where we are going, too,” added veteran Jessica King, who served as a U.S. Army Specialist.
Marzello did not provide an update on the state of the ship, but he did say he hopes to have some good news next week.
The Sullivans began listing on April 14 after a hull breach. Divers were able to begin assessing the ship on Thursday after rainy weather delayed their original start date. Officials said the divers were able to plug five holes in the hull, around 2” to 3” in size.
Here are other Thursday updates on USS The Sullivans:
- Weather conditions deteriorated from the previous day. Strong winds gusting up to 40 MPH have slowed progress.
- Security of the site and workers is primary and a site safety plan is in place.
- A United States Coast Guard drone operator from Cleveland is on-site and was using a drone to
take images and video of the site to evaluate the shoreline and any contamination.
- The containment boom around the stern has been tightened to allow for the Liberty Hound
patio to be opened.
- 7,510 gallons of oily waste and 9 cubic yards of oily debris to date.
- Bow is now sitting 6” off the bottom of the river where the ship is moored.
- United States Coast Guard is using an ROV (remotely operated vehicle – underwater drone) to
capture footage of the damage control process.
- BIDCO teams have added a gangway from the pier to the stern of the ship for worker access.
- Divers in the water today and are continuing their hull survey and inspection.
- T&T Marine has added two new team members. They are using the information gathered and
developing an entry plan to safely enter the ship.
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.