USS The Sullivans – What a Sight!

We can still clearly recall the pictures of the USS The Sullivans slowly sinking while we all watched with held breath as personnel worked nonstop to pump out the 1 million gallons of water. The ship has been righted and is now standing tall as it should be. The Sullivans’ main deck, bow, and first and second levels are now open following recent flooding. Next season, the inside and below ground will reopen. The Sullivan family’s antiquities on the ship were unharmed by the sea. Everything has been taken out and will remain off the ship.

The Fletcher-class Destroyer, the biggest and most significant class of American destroyers, utilized in World War II, is well represented by the decommissioned USS The Sullivans.

The largest and most significant class of American destroyers utilized during World War II was the retired Fletcher-class Destroyer, DD-537, now housed at the Buffalo Naval & Military Park. USS The Sullivans was the first ship in the Navy to have more than one person’s name.

She was given her commission in 1943 and saw duty in the Pacific theatre, where she shot down eight Japanese aircraft, bombarded Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and saved American crew members from sinking or burning ships. She participated in both the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Korean War. USS The Sullivans, now a historic monument docked at the Buffalo Waterfront, was decommissioned in 1965 after collecting 11 battle stars for distinguished services.

Along with 310 of your shipmates, you will experience what it was like to serve as a “Tin Can Sailor” on board. As evidenced by her slogan, “We Stick Together,” she serves as a place of meditation and commemoration for the five Sullivan brothers who passed away together.

The History Behind It All

The five Sullivan brothers who perished in combat aboard the USS Juneau during the Battle of Guadalcanal are honored by the name of the USS The Sullivans (DDG 68). Their names are George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert. Bath Iron Works Co. laid the keel in Bath, Maine, in 1993. Kelly Sullivan Loughren, the granddaughter of Albert Leo Sullivan, sponsored the ship’s christening and launched in 1995. The ship was then commissioned in Staten Island, New York, in 1997, with Cmdr. Gerard D. Roncolato served as the first commanding officer. The crew of the Sullivans completed underway replenishment qualifications with Platte after departing from New York for Norfolk.

On May 27, DDG 68 left for her shakedown deployment to the West Indies after completing two days of gunnery testing. The ship performed many sonars, gunnery, and torpedo drills during that trip off the coasts of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Additionally, the USS The Sullivans made two entrances into Roosevelt Roads and one port call to St. Thomas. She tested shooting Standard SM-2 ER missiles from its vertical launch system and joined other U.S. Navy ships for a multiple-ship missile fire exercise off the Virginia Capes after making a short stop in Mayport for the Fourth of July weekend. On July 12, the Sullivans came back to Mayport for maintenance.

Mid-August saw the crew complete three days of damage control training before getting ready for a post-shakedown availability (PSA). On September 3, she set sail for Maine, and on September 5, she arrived at Bath Iron Works. The shipyard changed the superstructure, repainted the hull, and added equipment to the combat systems suite and engineering plant. After finishing the yard maintenance, the destroyer departed for Mayport and arrived there on November 23.

After a week of underway training, the destroyer joined USS Enterprise. After takeoff, a McDonnell Douglas T-45A trainer splashed while performing aircraft guard duties. The Sullivans sped up their arrival at the location. The carrier’s rescue chopper successfully saved the pilot, but boats deployed by the destroyer collected a significant amount of debris that was useful in figuring out what caused the disaster. Before departing for the port on December 12 for the holidays, the crew qualified for helicopter deck landings.

The crew of the USS The Sullivans started a series of drills in January 1998. They featured battle scenario training exercises as well as engineering, combat, and seamanship drills. The battleship left for New York and the yearly “Fleet Week” celebrations on May 18, following these local operations.

The Sullivans served in the Korean War and World War II before being assigned to the 6th Fleet and serving as a training ship until her decommissioning on January 7, 1965.

She was prepared as a gift to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York, together with the cruiser USS Little Rock in 1977. The vessel is currently a memorial museum ship that welcomes visitors on excursions. A major hull leak caused the USS The Sullivans to partly sink on April 13, 2022.

USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) will accompany HMS Queen Elizabeth on her initial operational deployment in 2021 as a member of United Kingdom Carrier Strike Group 21, according to a proclamation. USS The Sullivans (DD-537) received two combat stars for their service in Korea and nine for their involvement in World War II. The Sullivans was decommissioned at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard on January 7, 1965, and she was kept in reserve until the 1970sThe ship is now a memorial and is accessible to the general public for excursions.

In 1986, the ship was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The Sullivans was reportedly taking on water and listing on February 26, 2021. The age of the ship and potential weather damage was cited as the leak’s most likely causes below the waterline. But, USS The Sullivans is now open to tourists.

The McClain Family

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