Before there was Canalside, there was the Military Park. The Park and its iconic vessels have seen a lot of action over the years, and now, one of the stars of the attraction – the USS Sullivans – is in danger of sinking. Officials from the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park are saying that in order to save the ship, they need to immediately raise $100,000 for emergency hull repairs.
This news couldn’t have come at a worse time, considering that the pandemic has essentially halted a stream of visitors in recent months, resulting in lost revenue. Compounding the problem, this winter’s ice and snow, and heavy winds have also adversely impacted the ship, which is now listing to one side.
“Routine hull maintenance is required with ships of this age,” commented Paul Marzello, president and CEO of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. “The harsh Buffalo winter weather has severely damaged the hull of USS The Sullivans below the waterline and the ship is taking on water. She is currently listing to port quite noticeably. If we cannot repair the hull and stop the water, she will sink.”
Marzello noted that there is a plan in place, starting in the summer of 2021, to embark upon a long-term repair to the hull of The Sullivans, a 78-year old Fletcher-Class destroyer. As the Park is awaiting funding from a number of sources, crews are now pumping water out of the ship, to prevent further damage, including potentially sinking.
“We expect another four to six weeks of tough weather ahead, so there is potential for even more hull damage. At this point the ship requires $100,000 in emergency repairs just to keep her afloat until we can begin the long-term repairs. We are asking for help from the public to raise the $100,000. We need All Hands on Deck to help,” added Marzello.
The Naval Park is considered the largest inland naval museum in North America, welcoming more than 70,000 visitors each year. The USS The Sullivans is considered an integral component to that formula – the ships at the Park have become synonymous with the Buffalo waterfront. A trip to see these ships is considered a right of passage for many young Buffalonians.
In July of 2020 the Naval Park launched a major fundraising campaign called All Hands On Deck to raise money to support Park operations. Given the urgent need to pay for the emergency hull repairs, the Naval Park is extending the All Hands On Deck campaign and asking for donations from the general public. Contributions can be made securely online at keepingourshipsafloat.org or by contacting the Naval Park at 716-847-1773.