Monday, December 15, 2008


Greetings Altair Crew. Are there any objections to the Altair Association making a donation to keep the USS Laffey afloat? The SS Aberdeen Victory (USS Altair) sailed with the USS Laffey in 1945 and participated with the Laffey at the Battle of Okinawa. I wish we had the Altair afloat!

Best Regards To All..........Charles

Charles M. Brecheisen

Charles, I rec'd the following from an old friend I worked with many years ago.He served aboard the USS Laffey and is a member of the ships association.It looks like the USS Laffey is taking on water and eventually will require major repairs to her bottom.I'm requesting that you put this out to our crew for a couple of reasons.Some may have served on her or known others who did.Some may find it possible to make a small donation to her cause.I visited the Memorial in Mt. Pleasant S.C. where she is berthed a few years ago and it would be a wonderful gesture if our Association was in the position to make a donation as well.I plan to make a personal donation too.Thanks for passing the word...........Mike Troiano

--- On Sun, 12/14/08,


Subject: Laffey update

To: "wagemann, kurt" , "Lippi, Claire"
Date: Sunday, December 14, 2008, 3:04 PM

Good afternoon all:
We have returned from a very emotional and upsetting visit of our ship, the USS LAFFEY.
I received a phone call on Thursday from General Hugh Tant telling me that there were new leaks and he said that I should be there to see what was going on. I contacted John Hudak (our Engineering Officer) and Don Watson Our First Lieutenant), to tell them that I was going to the ship. They told me that they must go also. John drove from Vestaburg, PA to my house in MD and we drove straight to the ship Thursday night. Don and Joe Luque left from Florida at midnight on Thursday and met us in Mt. Pleasant on Friday morning.

We were met by Charlie Hall, the PR manager of Patriots Point and he took us to his office to watch a video that was shot by the divers. It showed the water pouring into the ship through 3 holes within a 4 square foot area near the keel on the port side forward. I cannot discribe the mood in that office as we watched the video.

Along with John Hudak, Don Watson and Joe Luque, we rode down the pier and saw the tanker trucks, the booms in the water around the ship and the divers' boat alongside and the pumps running. It was very disturbing to see our lady in such distress.

We met Malcolm Jenkins on the pier and we went aboard the ship. Paul Jeffords met us and took us below into the forward fire room where the leaks were. There we met with Richard Dunn, the superintendant of maintenance. They showed us the bilges and the condition of the bottom. The water was about 6 inches deep under no.2 boiler. There was a diver underneath the ship putting on a soft patch. He was warned by the master diver to stay away from trying to clean the marine growth too close to the holes. He was afraid that the whole section would let go and suck the diver right up into the ship.

The picture that we paint here is not a pretty one BUT, I have to tell you that the personnel of Patriots Point have not given up on her. They are working around the clock keeping an eye on the ship and manning the pumps when needed.

The situation is this, the bottom is very fragile and needs to be patched in order to move her to the yards to put her in dry dock. This will require a lot of money and care. We have donated $10,000. from the association emergency fund. I have been informed of many members that have sent donations, Tin Can Sailors have put a notice on their website and will be putting a notice in the next newsletter. Many other ships' associations have informed me of their donations also.

We will need a lot more to get this done. Patriots Point has been in touch with the governor of South Carolina, many senators and also the Federal Government to try to get more funds.
I have also received a phone call from James Smith, grandson of Capt. Paul Smith who was the gunnery officer during the battle at Okinawa. James told me that he is trying to put some donors together to get the ship fixed. He said to me that we CANNOT LET HER GO!!!!!!! We are going to try to make this happen. This will probably be the hardest battle she has fought in her 62 years.

"THE SHIP THAT WOULD NOT DIE" hasn't died yet. When I asked for $5.00 per member, that was for the 30,000 members of TCS!!!! We need more from us if we can. Don't send me my usual $100 Christmas present, donate it to the 'SAVE THE LAFFEY FUND". I'll just have to do without all of the presents you all send to your tired president. Seriously, please try to keep a positive attitude about saving our girl. If the folks from Patrots Point haven't given up, we certainly can't. I'll keep you advised as to the donations and the progress of the save the ship project.

The problem is funding!!!! It is going to cost a lot of money, about 3 million bucks to get her to the yards and repaired.

Make checks payable to:

Patriots Point Development Authority
40 Patriots Point Road
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465
Attn: CFO

Mark your check "FOR SAVE THE LAFFEY FUND"

Thanks so much,
Sonny Walker


To: "Charles M. Brecheisen"

Date: Mon, 15 Dec 2008 21:38:20 +0000

Subject: Fw: Laffey update

Hi Charles,

Here is a better synopsis of the situation involving the USS Laffey.This was buried in one of my folders.You may want to forward this to our crew as well.The Laffey Association members meet at the ship through out the year for work parties and have done one heck of a job getting her ship shape.This new problem may exceeded their ability to fund which would really be a shame given the history behind the ship and the effort of her crew over the years.................Mike

-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------

From: Robert Hill

To: Carl Akin

Subject: Fw: Laffey update

Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2008 21:31:08 +0000

--- On Fri, 12/12/08, <>



Subject: Laffey update

To: "wagemann, kurt" , "Lippi, Claire"


Date: Friday, December 12, 2008, 2:43 PM

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 and access “Ships & Museums – USS Laffey”.

----- End forwarded message -----

I don't know, Charles. I went aboard the Laffey when I was in Charleston following our reunion. She was a pretty sorry ship.. I am not sure she is worth saving. In contrast, the USS Yorktown, also moored at Patriot's Point, was well preserved and offered a decent tour. Neither were as good as the battleship USS North Carolina, which I saw in Wilmington NC before the reunion.

We have an old lightship here in Lewes DE that is being restored. The dedicated volunteers are facing the same hull deterioration issues, in addition to of all the other repair problems. It has taken two years just to get the thing to dry-dock, and I really don't know what they are going to do after the hull is repaired. There remains a significant amount of work to be done to the rest of the ship. I doubt that it will ever be much of a tourist attraction, so it may just be an ongoing maintenance project.

Sometimes I think these old ships are maintained just for the people who are interested in working on them. Once they pass away, nobody else cares. Look at all the monuments that were built following the civil War, WWI and WWII - they seem to just fade away until someone decides they should be restored, and afterward they fade away again.

The Laffey is not a bad project, but it may just be a black hole that sucks up money.

Perhaps a better cause could be found, one that builds for the future, like adopting a sea scout troop or donating to a scholarship fund for a child of a fallen sailor from Iraq or Afghanistan.

Just my thoughts, for whatever they are worth.

George O'Brien

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