USS The Sullivans: DD57

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Sometime spirits will stay to protect/help; especially if they had premature deaths.

A few other departed souls are continuing on in their duties.


The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 is a Fletcher Class Destroyer, considered the best type of destroyer that was active in WW2. Being the largest and most effective, it did plenty of damage to enemy vessels, sinking many, killing enemy combatants and helped to win World War II. The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 is three hundred and seventy-six feet long, with a beam of thirty-nine feet, a draft of nineteen feet, and displaces 2,100 tons in the water. In the beginning, it was armed with four, 5-inch / 38 caliber guns, one 3-inch/50 caliber gun, two twin-40 mm guns, and depth charges.

On board, there were accommodations and services for two hundred and ninety enlisted sailors, and twenty officers. The visitor can take a guided tour of the living quarters, etc. and get an idea what it was like to live, work and serve aboard this DD57. There are pictures of the five Sullivan brothers, and a picture of the eldest, George, hanging in prominent places.

There are many exhibits to see as well: Marine Corps Memorabilia World War I to Present; Ex-POW Memorabilia; Contributions of African-Americans to Our Country’s Military Heritage; Women in the Military; Polish Armed Forces; Destroyer Escort Sailors; Vietnam Veterans; Models of Military Aircraft World War II to Present; Western New York Medal of Honor Recipients.



The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57, a new Fletcher Class Destroyer, was launched on April 4, 1943, at Bethlehem Steel Corporation, San Francisco CA, just 5 months after The USS Juneau was sunk, killing not only the Sullivan brothers but also thirty other families of brothers serving on this ship as well. This new Fletcher Class Destroyer was named after the Sullivan brothers, at the suggestion of President Roosevelt; due to the Sullivan family’s terrible sacrifice of losing all five of their sons. Luckily, the youngest brother, Al, had a wife and son, James, and their sister was also at home, not serving in the armed forces. These remnants of the Sullivan family were a small comfort to the grieving parents, who paid such a high price in the loss of their sons.

The Armed forces felt bad about this, as well as smarting from all the bad publicity. All of the branches of our Armed Forces quickly began to enforce the rules about brothers serving together, and began the policy of allowing a family that has lost a son in war to have its surviving son who is also serving in the armed forces on the front lines, to be moved out of harm’s way. The film, “Saving Private Ryan”, is based on a true story of such an effort to move a soldier out of harm’s way for his family’s sake.

The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was commissioned on September 30, 1943, and was soon off to fight in the Pacific Theater of Operations, against the Japanese. A lucky shamrock was painted as its ship insignia on the forward smoke stack. The ship’s motto was and still remains, “We Stick Together.” The men who served aboard The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 had the motivation and drive to avenge the deaths of the Sullivan brothers. It is no wonder that “The Esprit de corps and morale was always high and the professionalism of the crew was top notch.”

The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 saw plenty of hot action, serving with distinction and guts, experiencing and enduring intense combat in the Marshalls, Carolines, Mariannas, and Philippines; a total of “twenty-seven major battles in the Pacific including Kamikaze attacks and artillery duals with Japanese cruisers.” Even more remarkable, not a man was lost, and not even a scratch on its hull.

Unlike the ships that left The USS Juneau’s survivors alone and vulnerable, The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 bravely rescued many survivors from not only downed planes, but from damaged or sinking ships hit by torpedoes or air strikes. The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 earned nine battle stars for her dedicated service.

During the Korean War, The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was once again front and center, supporting the allied effort. The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was also one of the ships involved with the bold Cuban Blockade, keeping Russian ships from delivering their missiles to Cuba, who had planned to aim them at America. The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 also assisted in the rescue/recovery efforts for the nuclear submarine USS Thresher, the worst submarine accident that killed all aboard.

After the Korean War, The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was assigned to be a training ship in the 6th fleet. While being decommissioned on January 7th, 1965, at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was still kept with the status of being “in reserve” into the 1970s.

In 1977, The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 and cruiser USS Little Rock (CG-4) were chosen to be memorials, and were processed for donation to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York, the town where the Sullivan brothers lived near as young people, though they were born in Iowa.

However, a second ship, was named in the memory of the sacrifice made by the Sullivan brothers, and the huge loss that was suffered by the Sullivan family. A guided missile destroyer, The Sullivans (DDG-68), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, was launched on August 12 1995, in Bath, Maine. Kelly Ann Sullivan Loughren, granddaughter of Albert Sullivan and the Ship’s Sponsor, christened it, wishing them “The Luck of the Irish.” The Sullivan family originally hailed from County Cork, Ireland. This ship also has a lucky shamrock insignia, and the same motto, “We Stick Together.” As of 2014, The Sullivans (DDG-68) is still active in service, still going out on naval deployment duty.

On January 3rd, 2000, while on patrol near Yemen, a terrorist group, affiliated with Al Qaeda, attempted to attack and destroy The Sullivans (DDG-68), by sending a bomb-laden boat toward their hull. Fortunately, the boat was over-loaded with bombs, and sank before detonating. Was this divine providence, an example of the “luck of the Irish,” or some other form of protection not seen? The USS Cole wasn’t so lucky, when the same attack was tried. Several sailors died in this cowardly encounter.



Close bonds among people; men, women and children can keep them together, even after they become spirits. The brotherhood/sisterhood experienced in families, theatres, the Military, the Mob, the Masons and religious orders can be a compelling force that some entities may want to continue to enjoy and embrace in this world, despite being in spirit form, and no longer living officially in a physical body.

The five Sullivan Brothers, George, 28; Francis, 27; Joseph, 24; Madison, 23; and Albert, 20, wanted to serve together on the same ship, and joined the Navy, with this request; feeling very much like the “five musketeers”: ALL FOR ONE, and ONE FOR ALL. The brothers felt that if they just stuck together, and looked out for each other, the brothers would survive the war. They were all assigned to be on board of The USS Juneau, a destroyer sent straight to the front line in the Pacific Theater, to fight against Japan, along with thirty other sets of brothers on board. On Friday November 13th, 1942, The USS Juneau, already damaged and in the process of limping back to port for repairs, was struck in half by a torpedo, courtesy of a Japanese torpedo boat, during the tail end of the Battle for Guadalcanal. The USS Juneau sank immediately. Four of the brothers: Frank, Joseph, Madison, and Albert died instantly, while it has been reported that George, the eldest, had a more emotional, perhaps physically torturous death.

Sometimes when a member of a group or family has a hard time leaving, other members of the group or family will also stay to keep the troubled soul company and offer comfort.

There are three stories on how George died. One account says that a very emotionally upset George, despite being hurt himself, dove into the water and frantically tried to find his brothers under water when the boat sank, searching the lower decks. Not only was he not able to save any of his four brothers, but wound up drowning himself.

The second account reports that George desperately searched for his brothers, going from life raft to life raft. He inadvertently caught the attention of a hungry shark.

The third account is a bit maddening and upsetting, and probably the true account. When The USS Juneau was sunk, the other ships it was traveling with didn’t stick around to pick up the one hundred survivors, because of the threat of being torpedoed. It wasn’t until eight days later, that help finally came to rescue the then ten survivors. Ninety of the men had died, sitting on the life rafts; succumbing to the heat and lack of water, or becoming victims of shark attacks. One surviving sailor on George’s life raft told the story of how George became delirious after three or four days of waiting. George took off all his clothes and started swimming toward what he thought was the direction of the shoreline, in the spirit of the Sullivans, not wanting to die just sitting there on the raft, waiting for help to come. He was never seen again. Sadly, George probably drowned or was eaten by sharks.

Sometimes spirits become especially active around the time or day of their deaths, to remind the living what had happened to them, or to relive the trauma of their death, or how they felt when they died. The five entity brothers Sullivan are the most active on all Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month.

It is probably the case that the entity of George is still restless, perhaps more than the others, because he has more to work out than the others. Besides suffering a violent death, after being tortured from lack of water and over exposure to the sun, George was unable to save any of his brothers.

It is probably the case that the entity of George wanted to stay in this world, and protect the living, the way he wanted to protect his brothers. Besides the name given both of the ships:The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 & The Sullivans (DDG-68), an environmental trigger that probably helped to pull them all into this world was the ships’ motto, “We Stick Together,” and the mental attitude of the men serving on board both vessels.

The other brothers are restless as well, as they had an unexpected death, dying despite of their positive optimism. Being the oldest and the leader, the others followed George’s wishes, choosing to do the same thing, probably wanting to continue to bond together in the musketeer spirit, getting the job done together, not quite ready to leave their service of honor; wanting to protect fellow navy brothers and sisters from harm. Some think that the Sullivans continue to step in and protect the 2nd ship named in their honor, The Sullivans (DDG-68) when danger lurks near.



Ghosts of George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert

Many believe that after The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 was commissioned and sent out to fight in World War II, that the Sullivans in spirit form were on board as well, becoming the unseen guardians of this destroyer. This belief is based on the fact that despite being very active on the front lines of the Pacific Theater of Operations, and in the Korean War as well, no one was killed in battle, and the ship didn’t receive even a scratch, despite all the risks the ship was undertaking in its service.

George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert first made their presences known to staff and workers after The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 became permanently docked in the Buffalo Naval Park.

Entities of all five brothers: Their misty apparitions have been witnessed, floating down the corridors, especially on all Fridays that land on the 13th of the month. The entity of George: Is seen more than the others. This is reported in several sources. One security guard saw the bloodied, badly burned and disfigured apparition of George, floating across the deck of The USS Sullivans: DD57. He was so shaken he quit his job.

Unseen Presences

When pictures are taken of the mounted photo of the brothers, George’s face is always blocked out by white spots. It is always his picture that this happens to, never the others. It is thought that this indicates that George didn’t die instantly with the others. Male voices, and the shuffling of cards has been witnessed. Sounds of footsteps and chains dragging are also heard by the living. Whispers are heard when no one else alive is on board. “Hey You!,” is often heard whispered at the startled alive person.

Someone is getting some chuckles at the expense of the living! The feeling of being followed, complete with footsteps is experienced, but no one is behind when the person looks to see.

Locks become unlocked without help from the living. Hatches have become undone by themselves. Items have been found out of place, like they were thrown. Items have flown across the room in front of a person or people. The radar has turned itself on, despite there being no electricity to do so.

The Entity of a Former Officer

This entity is said to have appeared, looking very real, and gave a tour of the ship to a couple.

When the couple came back to thank the staff for such a nice tour and tour guide, they were startled to hear that no officer they know had been giving tours on board.


Most Probably so. Many personal experiences throughout the years into the present have been reported. Some hard evidence has been caught as well that backs up some of the claims made by witnesses.


The brothers may call The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 their home base, or may just visit very often, especially on all the Fridays that land on the 13th of the month, having a little fun with the living, as well as working on the past events that upset them so. The entity of George may spend some extra time aboard, trying to work through his feelings suffered at his end.

The brothers may also spend some time protecting the 2nd ship named after them, The Sullivans (DDG-68), a much more grander and heavily armed ship, out to accomplish much! If they were able to attach themselves to the first ship, they probably can to the second ship as well. The incident with the bomb-laden boat near Yemen, that is described above, was a close call, and may have been the brothers, pushing the boat laden with explosives under the water. It would be something they would do together.

Many men who served aboard The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 strongly felt that they had spiritual protection. Staff and security guards, visitors and paranormal investigators have all had personal experiences, consistently, for a long time. Western New York Paranormal caught EVPs and other evidence on board. Other paranormal groups have also investigated and caught some hard evidence, as well as experienced unexplainable occurrences.



One Naval Park Cove
Buffalo, NY 14202
(716) 847-1773

The USS THE SULLIVANS: DD57 is located in Buffalo, New York, docked permanently at The Naval & Military Park. The Naval & Military Park is located very close to downtown Buffalo, on Buffalo Place at the foot of Pearl and Main streets, across from HSBC Arena.


  • “The Big Book of New York Ghost Stories” by Cheri Revai
    Stackpole Books pg. 143-145 2009
  • “Empire Ghosts, New York State’s Haunted Landmarks” by Lynda Lee Macken
    pg. 11 Black Cat Press 2004
  • “The Ghost Hunter’s Field Guide” By Rich Newman
    Llewellyn Publications pg. 234, 2011
  • “Haunted Places National Directory” by Dennis William Hauck
    pg. 293, 2002
  • USS The Sullivans web page on Buffalo Naval Park web site
  • USS The Sullivans web page on Wikipedia
  • USS The Sullivans video on YouTube
  • Western New York Paranormal Research web page on USS The Sullivans

Our Haunted Paranormal Stories are Written by Julie Carr


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