The USS Laffey is best remembered today as the "ship that would not die" - this moniker given after the 2,200 ton destroyer survived five kamikaze and four bomb strikes that caused 103 casualties, from a crew of 336, all while the ship was on picket duty off Okinawa in the spring of 1945. However, what also must be remembered is that the USS Laffey, launched in 1943, is also the sole surviving World War era US Navy destroyer to have participated in the epic Battle for the Atlantic fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany.
Following Hitler's December 1941 declaration of war upon the United States German Admiral Karl Doenitz sought to take advantage of the weakly guarded sea-lanes near the American coast and pick off the highly vulnerable, solitary, merchant ships plying these waters. Hitler approved Doenitz's plan, code named Operation Paukenschlag, or drumbeat/roll the drums. Doenitz' U-boats would carry Hitler's war to America and if successful deliver the first blows designed to cripple American shipping and industry.