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USS LAFFEY (DD-724)


Flag Hoist/Radio Call Sign - NTHI

Tactical Voice Radio Call Sign (circa 1968) - WILD BULL

CLASS - ALLEN M. SUMNER As Built.
Displacement 3218 Tons (Full), Dimensions, 376' 6"(oa) x 40' 10" x 14' 2" (Max)
Armament 6 x 5"/38AA (3x2), 12 x 40mm AA, 11 x 20mm AA, 10 x 21" tt.(2x5).
Machinery, 60,000 SHP; General Electric Geared Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 36.5 Knots, Range 3300 NM@ 20 Knots, Crew 336.
Operational and Building Data
Laid down by Bath Iron Works, Bath Me. June 28 1943.
Launched November 21 1943 and commissioned February 8 1944.
Decommissioned June 30 1947, recommissioned January 26 1951.
Completed FRAM upgrade September 1962.
Stricken and Decommissioned March 9 1975.
Fate Preserved as memorial and berthed at Patriots Point, Charleston, South Carolina.
32 of her crew were lost and remain on duty.

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-Bartlett Laffey, born in Ireland in 1841, enlisted in the Navy 17 March 1862 and was assigned to stern wheel gunboat Marmora. On 5 March 1864, the Confederates launched a heavy attack on Union positions at Yazoo City, Miss. In the midst of heated battle Laffey landed a 12-pound howitzer and her crew. Despite enemy rifle fire which cut up the gun carriage and severed the rammer, Laffey bravely stood by his gun and contributed greatly to turning back the flerce Confederate assault. Seaman Laffey was awarded the Medal of Honor for his courageous stand. He died at Chelsea, Mass., 22 March 1901.Robert M. Cieri
Laffey 154kArtist's conception of the Laffey as built in a cutaway view by the renowned graphic illustrator John Barrett with the text written by naval author and historian Robert F. Sumrall. Their company Navy Yard Associates offers prints of most destroyers, destroyer escorts, submarines and aircraft carriers in various configurations during the ship's lifetime. The prints can be customized with ship's patches, your photograph, your bio, etc. If you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource.Navy Yard Associates
Laffey 98kArtist's conception of the Laffey as she appeared after FRAM II overhaul by the renowned graphic illustrator John Barrett with the text written by naval author and historian Robert F. Sumrall. Their company Navy Yard Associates offers prints of most destroyers, destroyer escorts, submarines and aircraft carriers in various configurations during the ship's lifetime. The prints can be customized with ship's patches, your photograph, your bio, etc. If you decide to purchase artwork from them please indicate that you heard about their work from NavSource.Navy Yard Associates
Laffey 33kUndated, location unknown.Howard Longstreth
Laffey 81kUndated, World War II image.Captain Jerry Mason USN
Laffey 63kUndated postcard Copyright © Atlantic Fleet Sales, Norfolk, VA.Mike Smolinski
Laffey 61kUndated postcard Copyright © Atlantic Fleet Sales, Norfolk, VA.Mike Smolinski
Laffey 56kCommander Frederick Julian Becton, USN, first commanding officer of the USS Laffey. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey Association.Bill Gonyo
Laffey 108kUndated, location unknown.Bill Gonyo
Laffey 184kUndated, location unknown.Wolfgang Hechler
Laffey 66kMiss Beatrice F. Laffey, daughter of Seaman Laffey, poses for a picture on launching day Nov. 21, 1943. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 107kThe Sponsor's party pose for a group photo following the launching of the USS Laffey (DD-724). Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 89kMiss Beatrice F. Laffey, daughter of Seaman Laffey, beaks the traditional bottle of Champaign during the launching of the USS Laffey. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 113kUSS Laffey (DD-724) being launched on November 21, 1943 at Bath, Maine. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 105kNewly launched USS Laffey (DD-724). Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 118kUSS Laffey (DD-724) just before commissioning day February 8 1944. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 65kAugust 8 1944, location unknown.-
Laffey 144kOn the evening of April 13, 1945, USS Laffey received its orders assigning it to Radar Picket Station #1. Early the next morning, Laffey replenished her ammunition at Kerama Retto from LST 582. This picture was taken as Laffey pulled away from the LST by Al Carkin, MOMM2/c. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 95kLaffey as she appeared after the Japanese air attack off Okinawa on April 15 1945 when she was struck by four bombs and five kamikaze aircraft resulting in 103 casualties: 32 dead and 71 wounded. Photographed from USS PCE-851 on Okinawa Radar picket station. Courtesy of F S Bayley, NHC NH 78233.Rev. Douglas R. Harrington
Laffey 68kA view of where one of the kamikazi's ripped through the thin waist-level shield around the three 20-mm guns on Laffey's fantail, killing and wounding many, destroying the guns, and wrecking the mount before it continued on to impact against 5" twin Mount 53. Courtesy of the USS Laffey Association.Bill Gonyo
Laffey 56kUSS Laffey (DD-724) in dock showing damage sustained after being hit by Japanese Kamikaze off Okinawa. Photo from "United States Destroyer Operations in World War II" by Theodore Roscoe.Robert Hurst
Laffey 161kThe USS Laffey being re-commissioned on January 26, 1951. Photo courtesy of the USS Laffey AssociationBill Gonyo
Laffey 173kUSS Laffey (DD-724) moored pierside Norfolk, Virginia in January 1952.Bill Gonyo
Laffey 102kIn 1952 Laffey carried the flag of ComDesRon 26, Captain William H. Whiteside. On 28 April 1952 the Laffey, together with Maddox, was ordered to Wonsan Harbor in North Korea. On the 30th of April, both ships were taken under fire by the enemy shore batteries. During a 6 hour period, approximately 420 shells bracketed both vessels, with neither of the destroyers receiving a direct hit. During this same period, the Laffey expended over 1,000 rounds of 5" shells - an amount later recorded as the longest ship-to-shore bombardment of the Korean War. For this action, the Laffey received her second Presidential Unit Citation. "… Although frequently subjected to hostile fire in Wonsan Harbor while embarked in his flagship, the U.S.S. LAFFEY, Captain Whiteside conducted a series of daring counter battery duels with the enemy and was greatly instrumental in the success achieved by his ship. By his inspiring leadership, sound judgment and zealous devotion to duty throughout, Captain Whiteside contributed materially to the success of the Naval blockade of the east coast of Korea and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Signed: Dan A. Kimball, Secretary of the Navy"Bill Gonyo
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A series of images of the Laffey on 8-9 April 1961 coming to the SS Dara disaster and rendering assistance along with the three British frigates LOCH RUTHVEN, LOCH FYNE and LOCH ALVIE. At dawn on April 9 Laffey went alongside the Dara to fight fires and check for survivors. While alongside, the Dara began listing toward the Laffey causing some damage to Laffey's port side and forcing her to back off. A fire-fighting party sent by boat continued to fight the fire until noon when the Laffey was ordered to withdraw from the scene. From the Bill Blackstock Collection, contributed by his daughter Anna Hall.
Robert Hall
Laffey 122kMarch 26 1964.Fred Weiss
Laffey 97kJune 1969 Grand Harbor, Malta.Robert Hurst
Laffey 130kThe USS Stickell (DD-888) and the USS Laffey (DD-724) at the D&S Piers in Norfolk in 1974.Vince Venincasa
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Decommissioning pamphlet - March 25, 1975
Ron Reeves
Laffey 98kCharleston South Carolina, August 1981.© Richard Leonhardt
Laffey 93kCharleston South Carolina, August 1981.© Richard Leonhardt
Laffey 97kCharleston South Carolina, 1989.Wendell McLaughlin
Laffey 55kAs a memorial in Charleston June 14 2001.Steve Schar
Laffey 54kScenes from Snipe country in 2007.Robert Hall
Laffey 57kAs above.Robert Hall
Laffey 60kAs above.Robert Hall
Laffey 58kAs above.Robert Hall
Laffey 54kAs above.Robert Hall
Laffey 58kAs above.Robert Hall
Laffey 75kLaffey's scoreboard. Photo by Bruce Wilkins.Bill Gonyo
Laffey 60kPatriot's Point, 2007.Robert Hall
Laffey 25kA bow on image of the Laffey at Patriot's Point.George Harper
Overhaul of the USS Laffey - August to December 2009
thanks to Joseph W. Lombardi
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A slide show of the final fantail work

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An update from Joe Lombardi
early November 2009

It has been awhile since my last update, but as you can imagine, it has been very busy and fruitful.
The hull is now completely re-plated with 3/8” steel. The machinery spaces (B-1 & B-2) are now completed and signed off as being officially accepted. All wasted transverse and longitudinal frames, keel and bulkheads from the machinery spaces have been removed and new framing/bulkhead plating installed as needed. While you probably would not serve dinner to guests below a boiler these spaces are now immaculate, strong and sorted out.
The hull has been plated up to the 13’ waterline, well above the current waterline to remove any riveted seams and to replace the badly pitted shell plating found when the doubler plates were removed.
A decision was made to replace the keelson from the stem to the end of the skeg as this was also riveted plating. When doubler plating over the keel blocks was removed, many sections were badly deteriorated and holed; the decision was made to re-plate to eliminate any possible leakage down the road and is the correct decision being that no Band-Aids were to be installed.
Other tasking coming up is to coat all interior shell plating, bulkheads and frames with two coats of epoxy and a stripe coat for sharp edges and welds. This will ensure the interior is rust-free for many years down the road. This tasking is being done now to preclude the presence of condensation that would have compromised the coating system had it been applied once the ship was waterborne. Once all of the keelson work is completed the exterior of the ship will be hydroblasted, primed and painted with a high end, zinc rich epoxy premium coating. More on that later as we move ahead.
The Detyens fabrication, dockmasters, rigging and welding crews and the MMIF fabrication/welding crews that have done this work deserve a BZ (in Navy parlance) for a job well done.
I very much enjoyed the visit by Sonny (and his cohorts) of the LAFFEY ASSOCIATION; they were treated to a briefing and a walk around the drydock. My hope is that they came away from their visit with increased resolve to again instill their passion for this vessel to others. Theirs is quite a story of rigor, stamina and determination against all odds and should be required reading for all.
Joseph W. Lombardi, AMS
An update from Joe Lombardi
mid November 2009

We’re just about through with the steel fabrication with small pieces to be fitted forward at the keel and production welding to be done on the keelson surrounding the skeg. The seams will be red dye sprayed on Sunday for final sign-off on Monday. At that point the boat is turned over to the paint crew. The paint crew has commenced hydro-blasting the topsides and will have the hull completed by Sunday. A final washdown will be Monday with the lower hull primer coats (2) to be painted. The boottop will have two coats of International 300V primer and be top coated with a single coat of International PSX 700 black Polysiloxane from the 13’ waterline down 8’ to cover the wind/waterline area. This massive protective belt of paint will ensure that there is no corrosion at the waterline for many years to come. The freeboard area will receive a single coat of International 300V primer and a single coat of International PSX 700 haze grey polysiloxane. These coating systems are the best on the market and far surpass the typical silicon alkyd paint typically used by museum and active ships. The inside of the vessel will have two coats of International 262 off white epoxy coats forward and aft of the enginerooms for all new plating and frames installed. The four machinery spaces will have two coats of terra cotta red EURONAVY epoxy coats installed on all new plating, frames and bulkheads in the four machinery spaces. Again, these are the premium coating systems available and will ensure the newly installed steel will be in good shape for years to come. It’s time to make LAFFEY shine again.
Joseph W. Lombardi, AMS
An update from Joe Lombardi
early December 2009

The Sumner-Class destroyer U.S.S. LAFFEY was fleeted and floated on her new hull bottom this past Tuesday at Detyens Shipyard, N. Charleston, SC after a lengthy restoration. This marks a new beginning for this very important and historic vessel and an important restoration effort by Patriots Point Development Corporation. U.S. COATINGS did a fine job in preparing the vessel for the follow-on work by the shipyard; this firm is now engaged with the interior lower space painting/preservation work. The Detyens Shipyard and MMIF steel fabrication crew, welders, riggers, cleaners, fire watches, painters, dockmasters did a masterful job in removing the Ό” steel doubler plate that covered 81% of her original shell plating, itself badly corroded. They then removed that original plating to bare frames and bulkheads from the 13’ waterline down to and including the keelson, bow to stern. All rivet seams, sea chests and overboard discharges previously below the waterline were removed or plated over. The entire hull was sheathed in new 3/8” A-036 mild steel plate and welded. I might add that the shipyard superintendent for Detyens, Mr. Eric Williams, performed magic in keeping to the schedule. Well done! The four machinery spaces had required extensive repairs and wholesale replacement of the five transverse bulkheads, longitudinal and transverse frames. The keel was largely replaced from Frame 72 to Frame # 148; a very difficult and dangerous endeavor. The reefer flats and other areas aboard were extensively restored with new plating. The shaft packing glands and rudder posts were repacked with new flax packing and tightened into the stops. External covers were welded over the shaft tubes and shafts to prevent any additional water from entering the ship. Both anchor chains, 10 & 12 shots with both 4,000 lb. Baldt anchors were hydroblasted, primed and painted and re-inserted into the chain lockers and hawse pipes. The hull was hydroblasted to SSPC-6 profile. The freeboard from the sheer to the waterline was coated with a single coat of INTERNATIONAL 300V primer and one coat of INTERNATIONAL POLYSILOXANE haze gray topcoat. The boottop (or waterline) was coated with two coats of 14 mil INTERNATIONAL 300V primer coats and a single coat of black INTERNATIONAL POLYSILOXANE. All lettering and draft marks have been completed. The hull bottom below the 5’ waterline was coated with two 14 mil coats of INTERNATIONAL 262 primer. Zinc sacrificial anodes will be hung over the sides to protect the hull from galvanic corrosion until a permanent impressed cathodic protection system can be installed at her permanent berth at Patriots Point. The interior was washed down and coated with two 14 mil coats of INTERNATIONAL 300V primer coats in the spaces fore and aft of the machinery flats. The new steel bulkheads, frames and foundations within the machinery spaces received two coats of EURONAVY epoxy primer coats to preserve these interior scantlings. LAFFEY launches in the near future and that schedule will be forthcoming/announced by Patriots Point. I have enjoyed immensely the cooperation of all of the great crew at Patriots Point; they did such a masterful job in keeping LAFFEY afloat for the better part of eight months until a shipyard berth was possible; much is owed to them for their care of the ship. It was my privilege to serve as Project Manager for this progression. All Hail LAFFEY! She looks like a toy soldier!
Joseph W. Lombardi, AMS
Laffey 38kA series of 3 views of the Laffey moving to the State Port Authority Pier in May 2010.Ron Reeves
Laffey 48kAs above.Ron Reeves
Laffey 33kAs above.Ron Reeves
Laffey 67kAt her temporary home in Shipyard Creek, Charleston, SC, July 2011.Ron Reeves
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Return to Patriots Point - January 25, 2012
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Laffey 49kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Laffey 47kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Laffey 40kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Laffey 31kShip's patch.Mike Smolinski
Click here to see our Special Feature - Interior Views of Sumner Class Destroyers as Built

USS LAFFEY DD-724 History
View This Vessels DANFS History Entry
(Located On The hazegray Web Site, This Is The Main Archive For The DANFS Online Project.)

Commanding Officers
Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler & Ron Reeves

CDR Frederick Julian Becton    Feb 8 1944 - Jun 24 1945 (Later RADM)
CDR Odale Dabney (Muddy) Waters Jr.    Jun 24 1945 - 1946 (Later RADM)
CDR Benjamin Cornelius Fulgum    1946 - Nov 1946
CDR Donald Stanley Cramer    Nov 1946 - Jun 30 1947
(Decommissioned Jun 30 1947 - Jan 26 1952)
CDR Charles Holovak    Jan 26 1951 - Feb 10 1951
CDR Henry Jackson Conger    Feb 10 1951 - Jul 1 1953
CDR Herschel Vernon Sellers Jr.    Jul 1 1953 - Jan 1955
CDR Norman Edward Chalmers    Jan 1955 - Jun 1956
CDR John Anthony McTighe    Jun 1956 - 1958
CDR Harry Leo Clark Jr.    1958 - 1960
CDR John Parks Tazewell    1960 - 1962
CDR Theodore Sawick    1962 - Sep 12 1963
CDR Harry Melville Rogers    Sep 12 1963 - Feb 12 1965
CDR Norman Lewis Kaufman    Feb 12 1965 - 1966
CDR George Harold Davis    1966 - Sep 3 1968
CDR Thomas Randolph Cotten Jr.    Sep 3 1968 - Feb 2 1970
CDR John Francis Stader    Feb 2 1970 - Aug 20 1971
CDR Harry Wagner Konkel    Aug 20 1971 - Mar 26 1972
CDR George Roush McKee Jr.    Mar 26 1972 - Oct 25 1973
CDR John Bisset Shewmaker    Oct 25 1973 - Mar 29 1975

Crew Contact And Reunion Information

Contact Name: Bob Karas
Address:
Phone:
E-mail: Navyk@juno.com
Website:

Note About Contacts.

The contact listed, Was the contact at the time for this ship when located. If another person now is the contact, E-mail me and I will update this entry. These contacts are compiled from various sources over a long period of time and may or may not be correct. Every effort has been made to list the newest contact if more than one contact was found.


Additional Resources and Web Sites of Interest
USS Laffey website
Tin Can Sailors Website
Destroyer History Foundation
Destroyers Online Website
Official U.S.Navy Destroyer Website

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