USS Laffey (DD-724)

The USS Laffey was one of the destroyers in the 6th Fleet which patrolled the Gulf waters during the 1950's and 1960's. She was a frequent visitor to the port at Ras Tanura, and her arrival was always greeted with excitement.

The school classes would get a field trip to tour the ships, always ending up in the Mess Hall for ice cream, cartoons and other goodies from the States.  If there was a band on board, then the school would organize a sock-hop for the junior high kids and the sailors (so what if there was still a significant age difference - everyone seemed to enjoy it anyway!).  It was always a status symbol (at least among the girls) if you could talk someone into giving you their white sailor hat.

Any time a ship was in port, especially at a holiday, the families invited the men over for dinner.  The officers usually ended up at the homes of the district mangers or someone who had Navy ties; the rest of us got the enlisted men.  I remember one series of visits where the USS Laffey came to port several times in a row.  We had the same group of men over each time, and became quite friendly with them.  The last time they came was at Christmas, and one of the men brought a gift for my sister and me - a really nice leather purse for each of us from Italy. I wonder how long they carried those purses around before returning to Arabia again!

There was a row of plaques in the Surf House from each of the ships that had come to visit.  As I recall it was along the wall of the bowling alley, across from the windows that looked over the patio... " (Cyndy)

The booklet at right was obtained during one of the school field trips to visit the Laffey, as was the picture above of the ship at sea. The booklet, unfortunately, isn't dated, but I believe it is from late 1960 or after." (Cyndy) click image to see the full pdf copy

The USS Laffey is now at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum, Charleston, SC.  See for a link to the museum and other info about the Laffey.

Spurred on by a BratChat exchange regarding the Navy visits to Ras Tanura, I was able to make contact with one of the crew of the Laffey who had visited RT in 1961. He sent me the following email (September 16, 2002), with his memories of that visit:

Hi Cyndy,
My name is Sonny Walker, I am currently the president of the USS Laffey Association. As luck would have it, I was aboard the Laffey in the Spring of 1961 and visited Ras Tanura. We played golf at your Country Club. (That's probably where I learned to make "sand shots"). We never forgot the hospitality accorded us when we visited your compound. As I recall, all of the kids were small as the older kids were in school in different parts of the world. One of my buddies, whom I still play golf with to this day, told me that he remembers getting the best hamburger and chocolate milk shake he ever tasted in Ras Tanura. Some of the guys aboard remembered the Cruise in 59/60. They were in Ras Tanura for Christmas and you all invited the guys to your homes for Christmas. This was never forgotten by the crew. Thanks.

As far as the ship being in the Sixth Fleet, we transferred to the Sixth Fleet while on our Mediterranean Deployment. We transferred back to the Second Fleet when we returned home.

Please try to visit the Laffey again if you are ever in Charleston, SC. It was great to hear from one of our old friends.
Sonny Walker
USS Laffey Association