The Ship That Would Not Die

The USS LAFFEY was, in fact, two ships. Both were named in honor of Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient. The second USS LAFFEY was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer. Commissioned on February 8, 1944, and supported the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944.

That summer, USS LAFFEY transferred to the Pacific Theater to join the US offensive against Japan. While operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, she was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and kamikaze killing 31 and wounding 71 of the 336-man crew. USS LAFFEY's heroic crew saved the damaged ship earning her the nickname: "The Ship That Would Not Die." The destroyer was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and earned five battle stars for service during World War II.

USS LAFFEY was repaired and was present as a support ship for the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946 (Operation Crossroads), and later she earned two battle stars during the Korean War. USS LAFFEY underwent FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) conversion in 1962 and served in the Atlantic fleet until decommissioned in 1975.

The only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America, she was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Mount 53

In the Mount 53 Experience exhibit, take a step back to April 16, 1945 during an historic kamikaze attack on the USS LAFFEY. Witness what it was like for the brave men serving in the gun mount, and learn about how the LAFFEY got her nickname ‘The Ship That Would Not Die.'


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Craft Stats

Displacement: 2,200 tons
Length: 376 ft 6 in (114.8 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 2 propellers
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h)
Armament: (circa 1944) 6 x 5 in./38 guns (12 cm), 12 x 40mm AA guns, 11 x 20mm AA guns, 10 x 21 in. torpedo tubes, 6 x depth charge projectors, 2 x depth charge tracks
  • Active Duty Military (ID required)
  • $17
  • In Person
  • Active Duty Military In Uniform
  • Free
  • In Person