Listen Live

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A historic ship that served as a museum and was under repairs is sinking into Lake Erie.

>> Read more trending news

Staff at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park, where USS The Sullivans is moored, said they first realized the ship was taking on water late Wednesday night, The Buffalo News reported. The park’s president and CEO, Paul Marzello, told the newspaper that divers will work to determine what caused the breach.

“This is a sad day for the naval park. Nobody wanted to see this happen. That’s why we were taking measures to stay on top of it,” Marzello said.

The ship had been under repair. Originally commissioned in 1943 and decommissioned in 1965 after earning 11 battle stars, the ship reached “emergency repair status” in February 2021 when water penetrated the hull, WUTV reported.

Work had been underway to patch holes in the bottom of the ship caused by rusting and erosion, but the team of divers doing the work was pulled from the project last year when the water became too cold for the epoxy to seal, Spectrum News reported. That team was scheduled to return to work next week, the station reported.

Marzello told The Buffalo News the breach is in aft of midship, on the ship’s starboard side.

In a tweet, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said the county’s emergency services agency was on-site and had requested special pumps from the state. The photo attached to the tweet showed the USS The Sullivans listing so far that the ship’s starboard side is under water.

A video posted to Twitter by a photojournalist for WGRZ shows four large pumps delivered to the site.

The USS The Sullivans is a Fletcher-class destroyer, which was the largest class used in World War II, according to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park. The ship was named after five brothers from Iowa and is the only ship in the Navy to have been named for more than one person. While most siblings are separated, the Sullivans were all assigned to the USS Juneau, and were killed when it sank in the battle of Guadalcanal, the Des Moines Register reported.

The Sullivan Brothers

The five Sullivan brothers (from left to right) Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison, and George, are shown in this Jan. 12, 1942 photo. The sons of Thomas and Alleta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa, died after their ship was sunk by a Japanese submarine on Nov.13, 1942. The brothers had enlisted in the Navy on the condition they be allowed to serve together. In April 1997, the U.S. Navy commissioned a destroyer warship the USS The Sullivans at a Staten Island, N.Y. pier. (AP Photo)