Commander Lexia Littlejohn

In June 2019, Captain Lexia Littlejohn took command of Coast Guard Sector Buffalo, an area encompassing 570 miles of inland shoreline. Previously, she’d been Deputy Commander of Coast Guard Sector Key West. Supervising 350 active-duty personnel and about 1,000 reservists and volunteers, Littlejohn helps stop smuggling operations, monitors pollution levels in waterways, and of course conducts rescue operations.

But Littlejohn probably didn’t expect one of those rescue operations would be to save a World War II-era vessel. USS The Sullivans is a destroyer that’s permanently docked at Buffalo Naval Park as a museum exhibit. In mid-April 2022, it began listing heavily.

Commander Littlejohn offered an underwater drone to help assess the damage below the waterline. Weather hindered efforts, divers were able to find and patch dozens of holes, enabling water to be pumped out while limiting oil leakage. After two weeks, Littlejohn announced the 20-degree list was reduced to 4 degrees, and reassured the public, “The ship is fairly stable… I don’t suspect that there would be additional damage to the ship.”