BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — USS The Sullivans is slowly going underwater due to a “major hull breach.”

The 79-year-old ship started taking on water Wednesday night.

“Efforts are underway to evaluate the situation and take appropriate action to preserve this critical piece of our nation’s naval heritage,” Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said.

The Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park is temporarily closing off the museum and all ships to the public.

“It’s a tough day for veterans, it’s a tough day for anybody who has put their time, effort, sweat into making sure that this park can sustain operations and keep and preserve these ships for another generation,” Naval Park President Paul Marzello said. “We are confident that we are going to be able to correct the situation. It doesn’t look very good. But we are going to be back on this as soon as we can find out what is the cause.”

According to Marzello, some sort of incident took place Wednesday night and it’s not clear if it was a seam split or a puncture.

His confidence remains high that the ship can be saved, and there’s good reason for it. Marzello said the rate of water being pumped out exceeds the amount that’s coming in.

“There is no chance that the ship actually going to sink,” Marzello said.

During a conference Thursday afternoon, Marzello said 13,000 gallons of water were being pumped out of the ship every minute.

“Failure is not an option,” Marzello said.

In recent years, the ship has desperately been in need of repairs to prevent it from taking on more water.

Earlier this month, Congressman Brian Higgins made an announcement that about $490,000 in federal funding that had been awarded to the Naval Park.

Saving The Sullivans has been an ongoing effort, with support coming from multiple sources, including at least 25 states and seven countries. The Naval Park has raised more than $1 million to keep it shipshape.

Work to fix the ship started in August but stopped two months later. The plan was to continue the work Monday.

Named for the five Sullivan brothers who were killed in World War II, Rep. Higgins called USS The Sullivans “a critical piece of our maritime history that deserves to be preserved long into the future.”

“As the decommissioned ship shows its age, this funding will ensure that necessary repairs can be completed so it can continue to be toured and enjoyed by veterans, visitors, and community members for many years to come,” Higgins said of the previously announced federal funding.

USS The Sullivans was commissioned in 1943 and later decommissioned in 1965. Earning 11 battle stars over more than two decades. The ship was used in World War II, the Korean War and the Cuban Missile Crisis. Today, it sits at the Buffalo Waterfront.

Marzello said there’s a lot of cleanup to be done in the days ahead. Anyone looking to help keep the ship above water can donate here.