The USS The Sullivans in the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park was taking on water Thursday morning.
Paul Marzello, park president and CEO, said the park staff realized the ship was taking on water between 9 and 10 p.m. Wednesday. They put an emergency repair call into Bidco, the company hired to repair the hull of the decommissioned Fletcher-Class destroyer.
“This is a sad day for the naval park. Nobody wanted to see this happen,” Marzello said. “That’s why we were taking measures to stay on top of it.”
Marzello said divers will be trying to determine the cause of the breach.
“We have another crew that’s pumping on deck trying to get as much water to a place where we can at least investigate where those holes might be,” Marzello said. “At this point we just don’t have a whole lot of information.”
He said the breach is aft of midship, on the starboard side of the ship.
“It’s just tilting back and to the right,” he said. “Under normal conditions, she was floating with about 5 feet of water underneath her.”
No visitors are being allowed on any of the ships at the naval park today, he said.
The Erie County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services is assisting at the scene, County Executive Mark Poloncarz said on Twitter. The state Office of Emergency Management has been asked to supply special pumps to aid in the effort, Poloncarz wrote.
A fundraiser last year brought in more than $1 million to repair the ship’s breached hull. Crews stopped working in October for the winter, and were to resume repairs Monday, Marzello said.
“I think our luck ran out just a little bit short,” he said. “I’m not going to let that ship sink on my watch.”
Reach Aaron at abesecker[at]buffnews.com or 716-849-4602.
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