Losing “The Ship that Would Not Die”
You may recall last year we posted on efforts to restore the WW 2 destroyer USS Laffey, now berthed at Patriot’s Point in Charleston Harbor. With an economy in the slumps and attendance down at the naval museum there, a new marketing strategy might do to the Laffey what 5 Japanese Kamikaze planes could not. Here is the Prentiss Findlay at the Post and Courier:
Patriots Point Development Authority Chairman John Hagerty said the new marketing campaign is aimed at giving the museum a fresh look for a bigger market. “We are trying to expand our reach as far as we can,” he said. The museum faced a strategic choice on how to weather the economic downtown and get attendance back on track. “Do you pull in your horns or do you spend some money?” he said.
Hagerty said last month at a Development Authority board meeting that Patriots Point should cut loose as many as three of its four warships and focus its limited resources on the primary draw, the Yorktown. All four ships need repairs, and the Development Authority does not have the necessary money or any plan for how to get it. Experts gave the destroyer Laffey, known as “The Ship that Would Not Die,” a year before the hundreds of holes in the hull sink it. Hagerty pointed out that the Laffey Foundation contributed some $30,000; but that short-term costs exceed $300,000, and long-term needs extend into the millions.
Though I believe these folks are doing their best, one of my enduring memories visiting the Patriot Point’s museum, besides the giant USS Yorktown, were the smaller vessels such as the Laffey and the submarine Clamagore (SS-343). I remember being amazed at the stamina of American sailors who served on such tiny warcraft, often gone for months of sailing in wartime conditions, especially on the sub whose size and accommodations reminded me of a camper trailer! To lose any of these fine fighting ships would be a loss which our young people will never know.