Higgins delivers $490,000 to Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park to preserve military maritime history for future generations
Congressman Brian Higgins joined Paul Marzello, president and CEO of the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, to announce $490,000 in federal funding awarded to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. Secured by Higgins as part of the fiscal year 2022 budget recently passed by Congress and signed into law, this funding will support the ongoing preservation and repairs to USS The Sullivans, a historic, decommissioned World War II naval ship stationed along the Buffalo waterfront.
“The USS The Sullivans is part of the largest and most important class of U.S. Destroyers used in World War II; it is a critical piece of our maritime history that deserves to be preserved long into the future,” Higgins said. “As the decommissioned ship shows its age, this funding will ensure that necessary repairs can be completed so it can continue to be toured and enjoyed by veterans, visitors and community members for many years to come.”
Marzello said, “It is fitting that we make this announcement today, April 4, 2022, 79 years to the day that USS The Sullivans was launched. The five Sullivan brothers paid the ultimate sacrifice in service to our country, and it is our mission to share their story to help honor, educate, inspire and preserve their ship and their legacy for future generations.”
Commissioned in 1943, the Fletcher-class Destroyer saw action in the Pacific Theater, shooting down eight Japanese planes. It bombarded Iwo Jima and Okinawa, and rescued American pilots and crew from burning and sinking vessels. The ship also saw action during the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. It was officially decommissioned in 1965 after earning 11 battle stars.
Today, as USS The Sullivans is moored on the Buffalo waterfront at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park, it is taking on water through its deteriorating hull below the waterline. The Naval Park has developed a plan to make repairs to the hull and apply a Navy-approved epoxy to the underside of the ship. This will create a water-tight barrier and prevent further damage. The funding provided by Higgins in the fiscal year 2022 federal budget will facilitate this repair and preserve this historic landmark.
On Feb. 6, 1943, the ship was officially named for the Sullivans, five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, who enlisted in the U.S. Navy under the condition that they serve together – and together lost their lives during a WWII warship battle. USS The Sullivans launched on April 4, 1943, and was commissioned and then sent to the Pacific later that year. Today, the vessel is a National Historic Landmark. This year marks its 79th anniversary.
Higgins is a leader in maritime heritage preservation, authoring an amendment directing the secretary of defense to authorize the Maritime Heritage Grant Program. Overseen by the National Park Service, this competitive program makes grants available to enhance public awareness, education and preservation of U.S. maritime history. Eligible applicants include state and tribal governments, as well as no-profit organizations, like the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park. Originally, the program was funded by the sale of obsolete ships. Higgins continues to fight for federal funding to be allocated for the program to meet the growing need to maintain aging vessels across the country.
Watch a video of the USS The Sullivans christening in 1943:
Congressman Brian Higgins addresses the crowd. (Submitted photos)