Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Laffey (DD-459)

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Laffey (DD-459)

USS Laffey (DD-459) was laid down 13 January 1941 by Bethlehem Shipbuilding Co., San Francisco, Calif.; launched 30 October 1941; sponsored by Miss Eleanor G. Forgerty, granddaughter of Seaman Laffey; and commissioned 31 March 1942, Lt. Comdr. William E. Hank in command.

After shakedown off the west coast, USS Laffey (DD-459) headed for the war zone via Pearl Harbor, arriving Efate 28 August 1942. She steamed in antisubmarine screen until she joined Task Force 18 on 6 September. When USSWasp (CV-7), her flagship, was sunk 15 September, USS Laffey (DD-459) rescued survivors and returned them to Espiritu Santo. USS Laffey (DD-459) saw her first fleet action in the Battle off Cape Esperance (also known as the Second Battle of Savo Island) 11 and 12 October 1942. The destroyer operated with Admiral Scott-s cruiser group, guarding against enemy attempts to reinforce Guadalcanal.

After the battle, USS Laffey (DD-459) rendezvoused with a group escorting transports from Noumea 11 November, and sailed to Lunga Point, arriving the next day. USS Laffey (DD-459) lashed out at the enemy with gunfire and torpedoes. At the height of the violent battle, an enemy battleship came slashing through the darkness and both ships headed at full speed for the same spot. The destroyer unleashed her torpedoes and, using all her flrepower, machinegunned the battleship-s bridge.

Suddenly, from the battleship whose bridge she had shot away, came a salvo of 14-inch guns, swamping the crippled destroyer. Then a torpedo in her fantail put USS Laffey (DD-459) out of action. As the order to abandon ship was passed, a violent explosion ripped the destroyer apart; and USS Laffey (DD-459) sank immediately. But her gallant skipper and crew had made the enemy pay a fearful price of one battleship severely damaged, one cruiser and two destroyers sunk.

For a complete history of USS Laffey (DD-459) please see its DANFS page.