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Divers get into water, inspect USS The Sullivans damage up close

Divers were able to begin their close-up look at the hull of the ship to look for any holes or breaches that could be causing flooding or any other issues.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — We're into the second week of work to correct the listing and partial sinking of USS The Sullivans along Buffalo's waterfront.

There's been some messy weather to deal with in recent days as crews work to assess the damage and come up with a solution for the plight of the historic museum ship from World War II. 

Things were definitely brighter Wednesday with the weather, and perhaps the collective mood, of the salvage operation team at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park.

It's giving the team handling this overall effort to save this nearly 80-year-old ship the chance to actually do some in person inspection work from an underwater perspective as they examine the exterior of the ship.

With no real wind on Wednesday and the water levels down a bit from the past two days, divers from Bidco Marine salvage were able to begin their close-up look at the hull of the ship to look for any holes or breaches that could be causing flooding or any other issues.

They also tried to use an underwater drone brought in by the U.S. Coast Guard but had limited success with it because the water is still murky. 

With those divers and the water still over the deck at the back of the ship, they decided to tighten up and add to those mooring lines to make the ship more secure as its tied up to the pier. They can help safeguard the divers, and they are taking other precautions.

"We continue to take every precaution with these divers," Naval and Military Park CEO Paul Marzello said on Tuesday. "They are always tethered and harnessed and swim in pairs. We have established three means of access and egress. We have two ladders leading down into the ships and a basket crane dockside."  

The degree of listing or the angle of USS The Sullivans may actually have improved a bit, but it's hard to tell if it's actually righting itself. 

This all goes to the stability of the ship, which the Coast Guard officer in charge talked about Tuesday.

U.S. Coast Guard Captain Lexia Littlejohn, who commands the Buffalo Sector, told reporters, "The ship is fairly stable right now, so if it does take on more water right now, it's right up against the pier. I don't suspect that there would be additional damage to the ship or cause any additional kinds of problems there."

We also learned that the leaking oil, which they were concerned about for environmental issues going into the river and Lake Erie, has been contained, for the most part, and that may allow them to resume pumping water from the ship after they review what the divers found. 

Those divers will also eventually go into the ship's below deck compartments to see what interior problems there are.

We're hoping to hear and perhaps actually see what they found on Thursday or Friday.  


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