The LAFFEY (DD-724) was named for the first LAFFEY (DD-459), sunk at the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.

Both ships were named in honor of Seaman Bartlett Laffey, a Civil War Medal of Honor recipient.

The second LAFFEY was built as an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer by Bath Iron Works (Maine). Commissioned February 8, 1944, LAFFEY supported the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944. Late that summer, LAFFEY transferred to the Pacific Theater to join the US offensive against Japan. While operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, LAFFEY was attacked by 22 Japanese bombers and kamikaze (suicide) aircraft. Five kamikazes and three bombs struck her, and two bombs scored near misses to kill 31 and wound 71 of the 336-man crew. LAFFEY shot down 11 of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship. LAFFEY's heroic crew earned her the nickname: "The Ship That Would Not Die." LAFFEY was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and earned five battle stars for service during World War II.

LAFFEY was repaired and was present (as a support ship) for the atomic bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1946 (Operation Crossroads). On June 30, 1947, LAFFEY was decommissioned and placed in the reserve fleet. Re-commissioned in 1951, Laffey earned two battle stars during the Korean War. LAFFEY underwent FRAM II (Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization) conversion in 1962 and served in the Atlantic fleet until decommissioned in 1975. LAFFEY, the only surviving Sumner-class destroyer in North America, was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981, and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

For more information, follow this link (link to subpage with Laffey tech info (below), and see the Dictionary of American Fighting Ships, HNSA listing for the LAFFEY, and The LAFFEY Association.

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Laffey Facts

2,200 tons

376 ft 6 in (114.8 m)

41 ft 1 in (12.5 m)

15 ft 8 in (4.8 m)

60,000 shp (45 MW); 2 propellers

34 knots (63 km/h)

6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt


(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