Now approaching a quarter century of service in both Fleets including participation in three wars in the Pacific theater, a Slow Ahead Bell was not to be in MASSEY’s schedule. Having completed a Med Cruise from May to September 1967, MASSEY carried her reputation as a “Steamer” into 1968 with yet another Med Cruise less than one year since her last major deployment. The ship was reassigned to Destroyer Squadron Twenty, homeported in Newport, Rhode Island where she continued preparations for deployed operations as part of the SIXTH Fleet. Haze Gray and Underway once again!
Deployed to the Med from 4 April to late September 1968, MASSEY participated in a variety of operations ranging from carrier escort duties with the USS INDEPENDENCE CV62 while also operating as part of SIXTH Fleet’s Task Group 60.1 and with other NATO navy units. In mid-deployment, July 1968, CDR William V. Garcia relieved CDR William S. Lewis as Commanding Officer. During this period MASSEY became the first USN vessel in several years to pay a port visit to Tripoli, Libya, an international hot spot. Other port visits included Valletta, Malta; Istanbul, Turkey; Thessaloniki, Greece; Souda Bay, Crete; Golfe Juan, France; and Pollensa Bay, Mallorca, Spain. Once relieved, MASSEY returned to her homeport, Newport, Rhode Island, on 27 September 1968 for a leave & upkeep period.
The interim period from late 1968 to Spring 1969 found MASSEY supporting the Naval Destroyer School’s mission of training future destroyer department head officers at sea. Other operations included the annual SPRINGBOARD Fleet exercise and local tasking in the Key West operating area. During this period, MASSEY was called on to provide escort protection to a USN surveillance vessel operating in international waters off Havana, Cuba, a very high visibility operation.
In an early 1969 change of pace, MASSEY hosted a Naval Air Systems Command training film production team chartered to develop a film featuring MASSEY supporting drone helicopter operations. This was not a new role for the ship which first embarked QH-50D drones in 1966 to increase the ship’s ASW offensive firepower. To look good for the camera crew, the MASSEY crew spruced up the ship with a fresh coat of paint and according to AT2 Ken Hatchette, the ship looked great and starred in the documentary. The video is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16D211010Es
In May 1969, MASSEY again deployed for the fourth consecutive year. Proudly carrying her reputation as a “Steamer” to sea again, the ship returned to the Med where she escorted carriers USS SHANGRI-LA CVA 38, USS JOHN F KENNEDY CVA 67, and USS SARATOGA CVA 60 and operated with various surface combatants as part of the SIXTH Fleet Task Group 60.X command element. During this stay in the Med, MASSEY sailors had a good opportunity to “see the world” with port visits to Rota, Spain; Valetta, Malta; Sfax, Tunisia; San Remo, Italy; Palma de Mallorca, Spain; Athens, Greece, Golfo Di Palmas, Sardinia, and Barcelona, Spain. Successfully completing another six month deployment to the Mediterranean, MASSEY returned to Newport on 10 October 1969. This marked the final deployment of a proud Tin Can celebrating 25 years of performance excellence. Winning the Battle E in 1968 and the Battle E with Chevron in 1969 (E/) is hard won testimony to the legacy of excellence of MASSEY and her crews.
In December of 1969, MASSEY was transferred to Destroyer Squadron Thirty. Her homeport was changed to Brooklyn, NY where she embarked on a new career as training ship supporting the Naval Reserve. In her new role, MASSEY continued to operate along the East Coast and in the Caribbean.
On 17 December 1969, CDR T. F. Niedbala relieved CDR. William V. Garcia as Commanding Officer, USS MASSEY.
In September 1970, MASSEY acted as Navy’s ceremonial ship for the America’s Cup Race off Newport, R. I. After completion of that assignment, the ship spent the latter part of 1970 undergoing a regular overhaul at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard.
MASSEY served as reviewing ship for Commandant, THIRD Naval District in a parade, which commemorated National Maritime Day on 22 May 1971. In June 1971, the ship visited Fort Lauderdale, Florida in conjunction with the reserve crew annual training cruise. In August MASSEY proceeded to GTMO for two-months of refresher training.
On 21 August 1971, CDR T.B. Hudgins relieved CDR T.F. Niedbala.
MASSEY returned to a new homeport at Fort Schuyler, Bronx, New York. In December 1971, MASSEY was reassigned to the administrative command of Destroyer Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT (Naval Reserve Forces). In January 1972, MASSEY participated in the fleet exercise- Operation Snowy Beach. After qualifying in naval gunfire support in March 1972, Massey returned to Fort Lauderdale with her reserve crew. The remainder of 1972 found MASSEY operating extensively until the holiday leave and upkeep period.
In January 1973, CDR John D. Eckert relieved CDR T.B. Hudgins as Commanding Officer.
In February 1973, MASSEY completed a Board of Naval Inspection and Survey (INSURV) material inspection at Newport, RI and later qualified for naval gunfire support at Bloodsworth Island in Chesapeake Bay. MASSEY received the operations “E” and the ASW “A” in July of 1973.
In preparation for scheduled decommissioning, the Executive Officer, LCDR R.V. Paul relieved CDR John D. Eckert on 4 September 1973 as the last Commanding Officer of USS MASSEY DD 778. On 17 September 1973, MASSEY was decommissioned at Fort Schuyler, New York by RADM William B. Phuge USN, Commander, THIRD Naval District. USS MASSEY proudly served almost 30 continuous years, over four decades and three wars in the service of her country.