Sunday, November 15, 2015

USS The Sullivans

In Buffalo, we visited the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park and paid tribute to the USS Sullivans (DD-537), a Fletcher-class destroyer that fought in World War Two and Korea and participated in the Blockade of Cuba.

This ship was named for the five Sullivan bothers who enlisted together with the stipulation that they all serve on the same ship. They were assigned to the USS Juneau, a cruiser, and all five were killed when the Juneau was sunk by the Japanese on November 13, 1942, during the Battle for Guadalcanal.
The brothers' parents learned of their deaths on January 12, 1943. That morning, the boys' father, Thomas, was preparing for work when three men in uniform – a lieutenant commander, a doctor and a chief petty officer – approached his door. "I have some news for you about your boys," the naval officer said. "Which one?" asked Thomas. "I'm sorry," the officer replied. "All five."
It's notable that, in the wake of these deaths, the Sullivan family's last child, the boys' sister Genevieve, immediately enlisted in the WAVES, and the Sullivan parents, Thomas and Alleta, toured over 200 defense plants and shipyards speaking on behalf of the war effort. (These were real Americans, folks.) And in 1944, Alleta Sullivan participated in the launching of this then-new ship named for her sons.

Once aboard, we roamed the ship, taking plenty of pics.

Radio room.

Combat Information Center. This is where aircraft and other surface ship are monitored and from where targeting information is sent to the guns.

One of the 5"/38cal guns that the ship was originally launched with. Post-war modifications saw one of them removed in the 1950's.

Inside one of the 5" turrets.

Shell handling space below one of the turrets.

Junior Officers' quarters.

Galley, and the life-blood of the military.

Engine room.
Machine shop, where a ship's machinists were expected to repair or fabricate anything that broke while underway.

View of the bridge via a porthole.

Hedgehog anti-submarine launcher.

Conventional depth charges in racks on the stern.

Torpedo launcher, Mark 32. These were a 1960's add-on.

20mm anti-aircraft guns. As built, the ship had seven. POst-war changes reduced it to four.

Twin-mount Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft gun.
Originally launched with five of these mounts, the ship now has two following post-war modifications.

A couple of deck shots taken from the adjacent USS Little Rock.

This ship is 376 feet long, 39 feet wide, and displaced 2,050 tons. She had a crew of 329. 175 of these were built during World War Two. 19 were sunk and most of the rest were subsequently scrapped or given away to other countries later. Only four survive as museum ships today, including USS Kidd in Baton Rouge, LA and USS Cassin Young in Boston. The fourth is ex-USS Charrette, given to Greece and preserved there today as HNS Velos.

This is a wonderful ship, masterfully preserved.


  1. I've heard it's a great one to visit.

    Thanks for taking us with you!

    1. Thought of you when I was taking the radio room shot.

    2. Thanks!

      That's 1950's era gear. The only "Gray Radio" stuff I've learned has been the 1908's vintage stuff.

      It's still "just radio", but I know nothing about that model.

    3. OOOPS......meant "1980's" vintage.

  2. And today they name ships after hack politicians like "Gabby Gifford."

    I see the Voodoo in the background there. Rare bird.

    1. They named one after John Murtha, too. I think I'd have a hard time serving on either one, just for the name.

      And yep--Voodoo on a stick. Looks good though.

  3. You didn't lock and load any of the ready ammunition?

  4. What WSF said.

    Sweet pics Murph.

  5. The throttle board layout in the engineroom looks very much the same as the later Sumner and Gearing classes. I spent a lot of my active time in the Navy's hot and loud spaces.

    1. Thanks for your service, John.

  6. I recognize a lot of the equipment as being on the DD-715 (Gearing class) when I was aboard in the mid-'70s. We had twin-barrelled gun mounts, though. Thanks for the memories.

    1. Knowing you for an old tin can sailor, I thought of you on this day too.

    2. Rev. Paul.

      I was on Forrestal from mid '74 to mid '76. Half a med cruise in '74, July to September, and a full med cruise in '75, March to September. Quite likely we were in the Med around the same times.

  7. Anonymous7:10 PM

    Thanks for the pictures and the story

  8. The twin mount is a 3" 50. Not a 40MM. Just an observation. Nice pics.