Schumer Promises Federal Aid For Museum Ship The Sullivans

After the USS The Sullivans tragically began sinking last week, devastating the Buffalo community, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer immediately came to Buffalo to launch an all hands on deck 3-pronged plan to secure the federal support needed to begin to save the iconic WWII Buffalo landmark.

“I am putting out an SOS to the feds – Save Our Sullivans. This historic landmark is the pride and joy of the Buffalo waterfront, for our veterans and our strong Irish community, and we cannot allow its future to sink any further,” said Senator Schumer. “That is why I am here today to get all hands on deck and launch my push to secure the emergency lifeboats this historic vessel needs to set sail once again and preserve its history and stories for generations to come.”

First, Schumer said that he is immediately beginning work on a congressionally directed spending request for funding through the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus and will be pushing for the maximum eligible amount based off the relevant committee. The senator said that this direct cash infusion would help provide the fiscal relief needed as damage is assessed.

Second, Schumer is immediately calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to begin working with local leaders to help address any remaining clean up issues and oil that may be continuing to pollute the waters during the hull breach. Environmental cleanup crews have been working consistently to help mitigate any environmental damage, but Schumer said that the feds need to help in these efforts and to make sure Lake Erie and the harbor remains pristine. Schumer just secured $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and billions for the EPA’s cleanup programs. He said this massive infusion of funds can help supplement the needs of this emergency cleanup effort in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and ensure the long-term protection of the waterways.

Finally, the senator said that he will be pushing for major increases to the National Maritime Heritage Grant Program in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) so that the USS The Sullivans can not only apply, but receive more funding from the program than ever before. The National Maritime Heritage Grant Program helps celebrate and honor the nation’s maritime legacy by funding projects that boost maritime heritage and fund the preservation of maritime history.

Schumer explained that program is currently funded by the sale of obsolete maritime vessels from the Maritime Administration’s (MARAD) National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), and that he has routinely fought for increases to the program, but that the current cap of $5 million on the program’s authorization level must be boosted to help provide large grants. Schumer’s push would authorize an increase in funding available and the senator said he would make additional appeals for the USS The Sullivans to receive the maximum allowable funding given the emergency nature of the situation.

Schumer said that collectively these pushes can provide the emergency lifeboat the historic vessel needs as it undergoes repairs, and that he will not stop fighting to secure additional funds to ensure that the story of The Sullivans can continue to inspire the Buffalo community for years to come.

Commissioned in 1943, the USS The Sullivans operated in the Pacific Theater during World War II and is one of four remaining Fletcher-class destroyer left in the world. The ship is named in honor of the working-class family that lost all five of its sons during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. It was decommissioned in 1965 and donated in 1977 to Buffalo, where it now received designation as a National Historic Landmark and has served as a memorial and museum ship ever since.

US Coast Guard photo

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