World War II destroyer returns to home waters after repairs

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With the blare of air horns, cheers and a champagne toast, "The Ship That Would Not Die" returned Wednesday to its home at a maritime museum on Charleston Harbor on the South Carolina coast.

Just after sunrise, the World War II destroyer USS Laffey was towed slowly down the Cooper River to the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. It was moved more than two years ago to a dry dock so its hull could be repaired at a cost of about $9 million.

"This means a lot of years of fighting to get her saved again," said Sonny Walker of Abingdon, Md., who served on the Laffey in the early 1960s. "This is the third time. The Germans tried to sink her. The Japanese tried to sink her and then she tried to sink herself sitting here. She's whipped them all and she's back again."

The Laffey, built at Maine's Bath Iron Works in 1943, got its nickname as "The Ship That Would Not Die" when it was on picket duty off Okinawa in March 1945. About 50 Japanese planes attacked and about half got through to the Laffey. The ship suffered 103 casualties when it was hit by four bombs and five kamikaze planes.

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