Perhaps one of the saddest stories associated with the Navy is the Sullivan's tragedy. Often a lot of folks talk about how haunted the ships and this intrigued our organization to further investigate into the stories then been handed down over the years about this naval ship. As a child my father once took me here and I remember playing on the small bunk beds, running all over the deck and looking over plank seeing a fishing that swam upside down. Recently the Naval Service Man's Park was moved so the tank, old war plane, and a few other things are no longer there. But today what is here are the USS Little Rock, The Sullivan Ship, and the USS croaker which is a submarine. This would make it the largest inland Naval Park in the country. Since during the winter the ships are locked down we only investigated the USS Little Rock which is afloat right next to the Sullivan Ship. We also walked on top of the USS croaker and explored the naval park to see what type of haunts roam in the shadows of the night. Since I am real big on history I am going to discuss a little bit about the ghost on board the ship and a little bit about each vessel parked at the Naval Service Man's park. I will also post photos from a variety of sources so you can see what the inside does look like and outside. This will help let your imaginations run vivid.
The first ship we are going to discuss is the USS Sullivan's. This was a Fletcher class destroyer ship and it was made in CA Bethlehem steel in 1943. The ship is 310 feet in length carried roughly 300 men and around 20 officers. It is also known as DD537 and was the most important destroyer of this class in WWII. This ship was very active as it served in the Korean War, rescued many survivors from plane crashes, sunken ships and she earned 9 battle stars for her service. The ship also was part of many decisive battles such as up in the Marshall's, Caroline's, Marianna's and Philippines. It was the only ship named after more then one person. The ship had everything you could want while be away from home. There was a barber shop, mess hall, sick bay, machine shop and much more. All the space was utilized nicely on board. President Roosevelt named this ship after a terrible tragedy when the USS Juneau was sank November 13, 1942 by a Japanese Submarine. That day 700 sailors were killed including all 5 Sullivan Brothers. There names Albert Leo Sullivan, Francis Henry Sullivan, George Thomas Sullivan, Joseph Eugene Sullivan, Madison Abel Sullivan. They say that 4 of the brothers died from the explosion of the torpedo and were MIA while George survived and found a raft staying afloat or alive for roughly 5 days at sea. They also say that most of the men afloat were killed by sharks and George tried to swim to shore and was eaten alive, How true this is I do not know however it is a true fact that the Japanese left the men afloat instead of rescuing them as a way to making a statement to the US. There is stories from others about how many man laid afloat in the water and how each day they would see there fellow sailors pulled under by the sharks perhaps this is why the ghost of George is so restless. They say he died of wounds and possibly a shark attack while on the raft. The mother Mrs. Allata Sullivan sponsored both Sullivan Ships and the name Putnam was canceled. Then in 1965 the ships were decommissioned which one was sent to Maine later Staten Island by Albert Leos Granddaughter who partook in having it restored while the other was donated to the city of Buffalo as a national landmark in 1977 by the Navy. It is really ironic though about this tragedy since the Navy believed in never putting family on board the same vessels. But the brothers were so persistent one wanting to serve together so 2 of them were transferred from one vessel to the Juneau leading only to there own demise. The motto for the ship was we stick together and a giant 4 leaf clover is painted on the smoke stack. Later we will discuss the Hauntings on board this ship in relation to this tragedy.
Now lets talk a little bit about the USS Little Rock. This first off was the ship we investigated and spent most of our time on. This destroyer is monolithic it is 610 feet in length, was able to hold 1100 service men, 150 marines, and 150 officers. It was the first ship to be named after Little Rock Arkansas and it was launched in 1944. Since then it has been converted twice to different classifications one of them took place in 1957. So she went to a CL-92, Later CLG-4 and was permanently decommissioned in 1976 where she was given to the Buffalo Naval Park after being in storage in Philadelphia. This ship is the only survivor of the Cleveland class making it the last of its kind. Also it has the only guided missile cruisers on display in the country. She served her country over the years in many European countries and was the flag ship for the 2nd and 6th fleets during the cold war. She also made 2 trips to the north Atlantic and 4 to the Mediterranean sea. She also played a role in the Cuban Missile Crisis. This destroyer is like no other and I have to admit I did not want to leave it. There is so much to explore on board you have isles of doors, hallways, ladders going to different doors and decks it almost is like being in a little city. At night the lights on board illuminate her and she sits all by herself giving it an eerie feeling. What we tried to mainly do is climb some of the outer decks and capture some of the entities that roam the bow. The USS Little Rock is twice the size of the Sullivan ship by height and length.
Finally we get to the USS Croaker which is a 300 foot long submarine. I was lucky enough to stand on this at night and wow it truly is an amazing feeling. The Croaker was a WWII Gato class diesel electric submarine. She was commissioned in 1944 and for 2 years she made 6 patrols in the Pacific Ocean. She at that time was classified as a SS-246. In 1946 she was put into storage and she sat there for 7 years then recommissioned as a SSK-246. When she was recommissioned a new sail was fitted with a snorkel and a long ranged sonar bulb. Because of the new additions 2 of her 6 bow torpedo tubes had to be removed. This submarine also had silencing treatment done to the equipment to make it as quiet as possible while under water. Then in 1968 to 1971 she was given to the Naval Reserve there she was used for various training exercises. In 1976 she was transferred to a submarine memorial park in CT. only once again to have her moved to Buffalo NY in 1988. So as you can see there was a quite a long span of history with this submarine as it sat for some years and was used for some as well.
Are these ships haunted? A big yes. Often the Sullivan ghost are mentioned when you ask people who have spent the overnight encampment tours or janitors work here late at night. But I honestly believe there is many ghost that haunt these ships. Imagine how many service man were wounded, perished in sick bay, died at sea as they were rescued. Wars have a history and with history comes the ghost. Lets face many other unmentionables gave there life to save our country and we must never forget them heroes. But perhaps residually there spirit remains on board maybe some even know they are no longer here but love the ship so much they decide to stay and look after it. It is said George Sullivan is seen walking the docks looking for his other brothers since honestly the brothers went down with the ship and he did not. There is a lot of other stories associated with this ship such as doors slam and lock by themselves, one of the Sullivan brothers is seen all burnt and disfigured, radar is restarted yet there is no electrical power, objects fly across the rooms, and in the gallery many who have taken the photograph of the Sullivan brothers say that George never comes out or shows up blurry. I wish that we could test this out for ourselves with the photo but the ship is locked up during the winter months so honestly we may never get this chance. But from our investigation we did not spend a long time here and got some nice photography of various entities and energy on board. We also realized how fun of an experience it is having a WWII to yourself. Also on the grounds is a torpedo exhibit, Marine Corps Memorabilia World War I to Present, Ex-Pow Memorabilia, Contributions of Afro Americans to Our Country's Military Heritage Women in the Military ,Polish Armed Forces, Destroyer Escort Sailors, Vietnam Veterans, and Models of Military Aircraft World War II to Present. So you can only imagine how many memorials on site have some sort of paranormal activity.
One thing I am so happy is to be able to present the history on these ships and an investigation. It is not only good for others to learn about this part of history but it helps the ghost out realizing that someone is willing to take a risk board the ship just to spend sometime with them and of course the photos show how thankful they are. These are beautiful ships and they deserve to be recognized and talked about. Also to me this was a childhood memory of my father and I visiting these ships and today I am able to not only bring you photos from on board but a ghost story as well on the whole entire naval park. But I also wanted to do it for the brothers because I never had one growing up so I can only imagine how traumatic it would be to sink in a ship, or burn from a torpedo, or to be afloat on a piece of debris while sharks are swimming around you. But do the brothers stick together in the afterlife? Or are they phantoms of the past that wander the decks in the later hours of the night? You decide yourself and enter into one of our most prestigious investigations.
USS Little Rock
Naval Park Area