USS Massey (DD-778) in 1971
|Namesake:||Lance Edward Massey|
|Builder:||Todd Pacific Shipyards, Seattle|
|Laid down:||14 January 1944|
|Launched:||12 September 1944|
|Commissioned:||24 November 1944|
|Struck:||17 September 1973|
|Fate:||sold 13 November 1974 and broken up for scrap|
|Class & type:||Allen M. Sumner class destroyer|
|Length:||376 ft 6 in (114.8 m)|
|Beam:||40 ft (12.2 m)|
|Draft:||15 ft 8 in (4.8 m)|
|Speed:||34 knots (63 km/h)|
|Range:||6500 nmi. (12,000 km) @ 15 kt|
This was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for Lieutenant Commander Lance Edward Massey, who was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for extraordinary achievement in aerial combat as leader of a group of nine torpedo planes in action against enemy Japanese surface vessels at Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands, on 1 February 1942. During the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942, Massey, commanding Torpedo Squadron 3, repeated this achievement as he led his squadron against Japanese naval units despite "intense antiaircraft fire and overwhelming fighter opposition." His squadron, bolstered by "his courageous initiative and self‑sacrificing gallantry", pressed home their attack on two enemy aircraft carriers. Massey, his plane shot down during the battle, was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his courage, gallantry, and leadership during this decisive encounter.
Massey (DD-778) was laid down 14 January 1944 by Todd‑Pacific Shipyards, Inc., Seattle, Washington; launched 12 September 1944 and sponsored by Mrs. Marjorie Drake Massey, widow of Lieutenant Commander Lance E. Massey; the destroyer was commissioned on 24 November 1944, Commander Charles W. Aldrich in command.
World War II
Massey departed Bremerton, Washington, 13 February 1945 en route to her first war assignment. Screening escort carriers, she steamed to Tulagi for exercises in preparation for the Okinawa campaign. By 21 March she was at the Ulithi staging area and on 1 April she stood off Okinawa, protecting the escort carriers giving aerial support to the assault troops. For the next month she continued to operate with the carriers, switching to radar picket duty in May. Before leaving Okinawan waters on 24 June, Massey's guns had splashed nine kamikazes.
Massey then sailed to San Pedro Bay, Philippine Islands, returning to Okinawa on 16 July. She soon departed Buckner Bay to begin an antishipping sweep in the East China Sea, concentrating her efforts near the mouth of the Yangtze River. With the cessation of hostilities in mid‑August, the destroyer returned to Okinawa and was assigned to air‑sea rescue work until 22 September. She then served as courier ship between Wakayama and Yokosuka.
In December 1945, Massey departed for the United States, arriving at San Diego on 21 December. Reassigned to the Atlantic Fleet, she proceeded to the east coast, arriving in New York on 16 January 1946. Until the outbreak of hostilities in Korea, 25 June 1950, Massey operated primarily in the Atlantic. Her assignments included midshipmen summer training cruises, her 1946 summer cruise being followed by an official visit to Chile, and hunter-killer team exercises for the Operational Development Force. Twice during this period, 21 July to 19 November 1947 and 1 June to 3 October 1948, she deployed with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean.
In September 1950, Massey was again ordered to the Pacific. She departed the east coast on 6 September and arrived in Yokosuka a month later. On 14 October she joined the Advance Force, U.N. Fleet, then engaged in minesweeping operations off the northeast coast of Korea. Massey patrolled the area in blockade and fire support activities, returning regularly to Wonsan, Hungnam, and Songjin, for most of her Korean tour. In December she bombarded enemy troop and transportation concentrations in the Hungnam area while U.N. forces were evacuating that port. She kept up her protective cover from the 15th through the completion of the operation on 24 December. She then turned her guns on the port facilities, thoroughly demolishing them.
In February 1951 the destroyer sailed to the west coast of Korea for blockade and bombardment in support of U.N. troops in the Inchon‑Seoul area. On 11 March she returned to the east coast and once again patrolled the North Korean coast, training her guns on enemy personnel and communications centers.
Massey returned to her home port, Norfolk, 2 July 1951 and resumed operations in the Atlantic. In April 1953 she departed for the Joint Antisubmarine School at Derry, Northern Ireland, and, following ASW operations with Royal Navy units, continued on to the Mediterranean for a 6‑month deployment with the 6th Fleet. During this deployment she joined the carrier Franklin D. Roosevelt in providing medical and material aid to earthquake victims on Cephalonia, one of the Greek Ionian islands. She returned to the United States in October 1953 and was briefly assigned to Pensacola, Florida, for plane guard duties. She reentered Hampton Roads in time for Christmas and resumed antisubmarine activities.
Massey spent the next six years operating with the Atlantic Fleet. She conducted various exercises and type training off the east coast and in the Caribbean, and made annual deployments to the Mediterranean with the 6th Fleet and NATO forces. In 1957 she sailed to northern Europe and the North Sea for operations with NATO, in lieu of a Mediterranean cruise.
In December 1959, after 15 years of destroyer service, she entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard where she underwent modernization (FRAM). Four years later, in April 1963, she put into Boston for further modernization, receiving this time a Drone Antisubmarine Helicopter deck. Following these yard periods she resumed her hunter-killer exercises in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.
Massey was ordered to the Pacific for the second time, in January 1966. Departing Newport, Rhode Island, on the 19th, she transited the Panama Canal and headed into the Pacific. On 28 February she arrived at Kaosiung, Taiwan, commencing operations in the South China Sea the following week. The destroyer cruised off the coast of Vietnam, providing gunfire support for ground forces and rescue service for carriers, as well as performing picket duty assignments, until departing Tonkin Gulf 3 July 1966 for Subic Bay, Philippine Islands. From the Philippines, she steamed for home via the Suez Canal. She arrived at Newport, Rhode Island, on 17 August 1966, having circumnavigated the world. On 28 September she entered the Naval Shipyard at Boston for repairs.
Back in top shape early in 1967, Massey operated along the east coast and in the Caribbean, until departing Newport 2 May for the Mediterranean. The destroyer reached Gibraltar on the 11th and operated with the 6th Fleet for the next 4 months. Steaming to the eastern Mediterranean she relieved destroyer Dyess in towing Atlantis to Rhodes after the sloop had been damaged in a collision with a merchant tanker.
USS Liberty incident
Arab-Israeli tensions had then become explosive. After fighting had erupted, word arrived 8 June that Israeli gunboats and aircraft had attacked and damaged technical research ship Liberty. Massey and Davis immediately headed toward the stricken ship at flank speed. En route doctors, corpsmen, and emergency medical supplies were transferred from aircraft carrier America to the two destroyers. Early the next morning they went alongside Liberty to render aid. That afternoon, as Davis accompanied Liberty to Malta, Massey screened America as TG 60.1 steamed through the troubled waters of the eastern Mediterranean.
As the situation in the Middle East eased and open war between Israel and the Arab States ceased, the destroyer steamed to Crete, arriving Suda Bay 15 June. Massey continued operations with the 6th Fleet until departing Rota, Spain, 12 September for home, arriving Newport on 21 September 1967.
End of career
The destroyer conducted training along the Atlantic coast until returning to the Mediterranean in April 1968. Operating with the 6th Fleet until September, Massey arrived back at Newport and operated off the east coast into 1969. In 1969, Massey became a Naval Reserve training ship in Brooklyn, New York, and operated in that role along the U.S. East Coast and in the Caribbean until she was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 17 September 1973. She was sold 13 November 1974 and broken up for scrap in New Jersey.
Massey received two battle stars for World War II service and four battle stars for Korean service.
- [CDR Charles Warren Aldrich Sr. Nov 24 1944 - Nov 20 1945]
- [CDR Donald Irving Thomas Nov 20 1945 - Dec 1946]
- [CDR Forrest Marion Price Dec 1946 - Dec 1946]
- [LCDR Adelbert Ray Evers Dec 1946 - Feb 1947 (Acting)]
- [CDR Forrest Marion Price Feb 1947 - Jun 1947]
- [CDR Alan M. Nibbs Jun 1947 - Apr 1949]
- [CDR Edward Reuben King Jr. Apr 1949 - Aug 1951 (Later RADM)]
- [CDR Herbert Kriloff Aug 1951 - Jul 3 1953]
- [CDR Robert Brent Harrell Jul 3 1953 - Aug 1955]
- [CDR Felix Leonard Englander Aug 1955 - Aug 1956]
- [LCDR Richard Joseph Plante Aug 1956 - Sep 1956 (Acting)]
- [CDR Daniel Victor James Sep 1956 - Apr 1958]
- [CDR Charles John Hemmingsen Apr 1958 - Nov 1959]
- [CDR Stephen Lewis Rusk Nov 1959 - Nov 1961]
- [CDR Robert Harry Cook Nov 1961 - Nov 1963]
- [CDR Philip Jennings Rush Nov 1963 - Feb 12 1965]
- [CDR John Stark Kearns Feb 12 1965 - Jun 21 1966]
- [CDR William Sexauer Lewis Jun 21 1966 - Jul 1968]
- [CDR William Victor Garcia Jul 1968 - Dec 17 1969]
- [CDR Thomas Francis Niedbala Dec 17 1969 - Aug 21 1971]
- [CDR Thomas Blackburn Hudgins Aug 21 1971 - Jan 1973]
- [CDR John David Eckert Jan 1973 - Sep 4 1973]
- [LCDR Ronald Victor Paul Sep 4 1973 - Sep 17 1973]
- This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
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