Quarterdeck          Update 12/20           Update 12/30          Update 01/25      Update 02/05
Charleston Post & Courier article 02/21/09

[Patriot's Point]
Press Release

USS Laffey Needs Immediate Repairs

Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina – Dec 12, 2008

In the early hours of Monday morning, December 1st, staff personnel at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum noticed the last remaining Sumner class destroyer in existence, the USS Laffey, sitting lower than usual in the water.

When staff personnel arrived, they discovered five feet of water in the lower section of the ship.  As emergency procedures began and pumping commenced, water was entering the ship at a rate of 2,000 gallons per hour.  After over 90,000 gallons of sea water were pumped from the ship, the location of the leak was determined late Wednesday evening.  Environmental personnel were called to oversee the operations to ensure that all procedures were being conducted in a safe and efficient manner.  There were no hazardous materials released into the outside water.

Survey teams and divers were on the scene Thursday morning to attempt temporary repairs and assess the extent of the hull’s deterioration.  By late afternoon Thursday, the leak was stopped with an epoxy patch, thereby allowing a marine survey to be conducted.

Three weeks ago, five holes were discovered in the aft section of the ship and 4,600 gallons of seawater were pumped out before repairs could be made.  The breach in the ship’s hull discovered December 1 is unrelated to the earlier discovered holes.

The USS Laffey was last in dry dock 14 years ago when she underwent repairs.  At that time, extensive repairs were made to the hull by welding metal plates over the deteriorated areas. The leak discovered December 1 is located along a weld that began rusting, causing a crack approximately 12 inches by one fourth of an inch.

As of Thursday morning, December 11, the epoxy patch was holding and all water had been removed from the ship. Unfortunately, during the day Thursday, staff personnel at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum discovered the USS Laffey was again taking on water through three holes that developed since the December 1 leaks were repaired. Patriots Point’s pumps and a private contractor’s pumps have been removing water from the Laffey. Divers started patching the holes Thursday afternoon to stabilize the leaks. This morning, the divers are continuing to work on the patches. A boom has been deployed around the ship to prevent any possible contamination. The US Coast Guard representatives have been on site to assist Patriots Point.

The December 11 holes are not connected with the holes discovered three weeks ago or those discovered on December 1, but they highlight Patriots Point Development Authority’s challenges with the cost and the need for constant maintenance of its aging fleet of four naval museum vessels. An early estimate of the cost to tow the USS Laffey to a repair facility and repair her is $3.5 million. Patriots Point is weighing its alternatives to deal with the Laffey given her deteriorated hull condition. In addition to this early estimate of $3.5 million needed for the Laffey, the aircraft carrier Yorktown, submarine Clamagore and Coast Guard Cutter Ingham collectively need approximately $50 million of maintenance and repairs. This need is not unique to Patriots Point's fleet. The aircraft carrier museum ship Intrepid moored in New York recently received over $120 million of repairs and maintenance.

For more information on the USS Laffey (DD-724) and her historic background please go to our website at
www.patriotspoint.org and access “Ships & Museums – USS Laffey”.

Update of December 20:  Patches are holding. The ship is being surveyed in order to develop a permanent solution.
Update of December 30:  Official determination:  $6-7 million will be required to return LAFFEY to good health.  $3 million for her "Burial At Sea".  Continuing to explore repair options and funding sources.
Update of January 25:  All temporary patches are holding.  No water intrusion at this time.  LAFFEY is closed to visitors and volunteers.  All Work Parties have been cancelled for the remainder of the year. Efforts for funding sources for repair continue.
Update of February 5


If you wish to make a donation toward the repair of LAFFEY please make your check payable to:  Patriots Point Development Authority and make the notation "SAVE THE LAFFEY" on the check and envelope.  Mail your check to:

               Patriots Point Development Authority
                                        Attn:  C.F.O
                                        40 Patriots Point Road
                                        Mount Pleasant SC 29464



©2008 by Marshall K DuBois - All Rights Reserved