After loading ammunition at Prudence Island on 14 January 1966, MASSEY departed Newport on 19 January again to return to the Pacific to support U.S Forces in Vietnam. MASSEY transited the Panama Canal on 25 January with liberty call in Rodman/Balboa Panama. Departing Rodman on 27 January, the ship then headed for San Diego arriving on 5 February for a Tiger Team spot air conditioning installation. Departing San Diego the same day, the ship proceeded to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 12 February in time to send off LTJG Dave Wands to CIVLANT in glorious style. Enroute to the Western Pacific (WESPACT), MASSEY departed Pearl Harbor on 15 February crossing the 180th Meridian or the International Date Line on 18 February. On 22 February 1966, MASSEY reported to the operational control of Commander, SEVENTH Fleet. On 28 February, the ship arrived at Kaioshiung, Taiwan for a brief port visit and then proceeded to the Tonkin Gulf, South China Sea as part of Commander, Task Force 77 (CTF 77). MASSEY cruised off the coast of Vietnam 9-16 March as surface escort for the carrier USS KITTYHAWK (CVA 63) which was conducting day and night air strikes against North Vietnamese targets from Yankee Station, the northern carrier strike force operating area. On 17 March, MASSEY anchored in Manila Bay with a resounding ship’s party marking the stay. On 25 March, MASSEY returned to Vietnam waters supporting carriers ENTERPRISE CVN 65, MIDWAY CVA 41 and AMERICA CVA 66 in strike operations from Dixie Station, the southern station where flight operations were conducted 24 hours a day against Viet Cong targets in South Vietnam.
After refueling from USS PLATTE AO-24 on 9 April, MASSEY provided gunfire support in both Quang Nam province in northern I Corps under U.S. Army spotter plane control and in the southern IV Corps areas. On 10 April, the ship fired 170 rounds in two NGFS missions and was credited with destroying eight enemy structures, damaged seventy-five, and sinking ten sampans.On 16 April, the ship rearmed from USS WRANGELL AE-12. MASSEY also participated in several search and rescue (SAR) missions for downed aircraft crews. On 19 April, the ship with Commander, Cruiser Destroyer Force, Pacific (COMCRUDESPAC), our temporary Type Commander (normally COMCRUDESLANT), embarked, MASSEY conducted a surface SAR sweep for a reported downed U.S. Navy F-4 fighter bomber near Hon Me and Hon Mat Islands off the coast of North Vietnam. With two ENTERPRISE air wing A-1D Sky Raider ground attack aircraft under her control, MASSEY broke the Battle Ensign and with all four boilers on line, steamed through uncharted waters between the islands in search of the downed aircraft and pilot. After additional SAR operations, the ship proceeded to Subic Bay after refueling from USS SACREMENTO AOE-1 arriving in Subic on 30 April. Again underway on 6 May, MASSEY reported as plane guard for ENTERPRISE on 10 May, refueled from USS KAWISHIWI and replenished from USS MARS AFS-1 on 11 May, and again returned to Subic Bay on 16 May for upkeep.
On 21 June 1966, CDR. W.S. Lewis relieved CDR J.S. Kearns.
The ship’s Engineers remained busy keeping the Old Girl running in peak condition and received the runner-up’ Engineering “E”award. MASSEY also received numerous congratulatory messages upon her completition of duty in WESTPAC. Particularly noted was her smart underway replenishments and performance in SAR operations for downed pilots. The ship completed CTF 77 support operations and departed the Tonkin Gulf on 3 July 1966.
During her WESTPAC deployment, MASSEY visited Kaioshiung, Taiwan, Manila and Subic Bay, Philippines, Hong Kong and Sasebo, Japan. While on one of many visits to Subic Bay for maintenance and R&R, MASSEY got underway in an emergency sortie on 17 May with most of the crew including the Captain ashore to proceed to Typhoon anchorage. With Typhoon Irma bearing down on Subic bay, the ship got underway for storm anchorage with the duty section from Boton Wharf. With the weather rapidly worsening and the foc’sle awash, MASSEY with the Captain and most of the crew back aboard, slipped her port anchor and proceed to sea under Typhoon evasion orders. At the end of her Seventh Fleet assignment, MASSEY returned to NEWPORT, Rhode Island via the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, thereby completing an around the world cruise. Port visits included brief refueling stops in Penang, Malaysia, Cochin, India, Aden, South Yemin (with an open insurgency in full bloom), and some true R&R in Palma de Mallorca. MASSEY arrived in her homeport after circumnavigating the globe in August 1966.
On 28 September 1966, the ship entered the Boston Naval Shipyard for regular overhaul. For Veteran’s Day, 11 November the ship was represented by fifteen enlisted men and an officer in a parade held on the grounds of the Bedford, MA Veterans Hospital to honor the aged Vets living there. The 24th of November the MASSEY’s 22nd Birthday was celebrated with a shipboard observance.
Back in top shape 3 February 1967, MASSEY prepared for upcoming refresher training at GTMO. After six weeks of training and a successful four-day Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI), the ship departed GTMO on 5 April for Newport via gunfire support qualifications at Culebra Island.
On 2 May 1967, MASSEY with Destroyer Squadron 12 and USS BERRY (DD 858) departed Newport for the Mediterranean. The ship sailed through the famous Straits of Gibraltar on 11 May and operated with the SIXTH Fleet for the next five months. While in transit from Gibraltar to the Ionian Sea, successful gunnery exercises resulted in MASSEY achieving the “E” for excellence for each of her three 5”/38 gun mounts.
In the eastern Mediterranean, MASSEY relieved the destroyer DYESS (DD 880) in towing the sloop ATLANTIS to Rhodes after the 39 footer had been damaged in a collision with a merchant tanker. Two of our MASSEY shipmates who had previous sailing experience relieved the tired crew of the sailing boat for the transit.
Arab-Israeli tensions had became explosive in June 1967, less than a year after MASSEY transited the Suez Canal from her previous WESTPAC deployment. After fighting erupted, word arrived on 8 June that Israeli gunboats and aircraft had attacked and severely damaged the Navy research ship, LIBERTY (AGTR 5). MASSEY and USS DAVIS (DD 937) were ordered to immediately headed toward the stricken ship at flank speed. Enroute doctors, corpsmen, and emergency medical supplies were transferred from the aircraft carrier AMERICA (CVA 66) to the two destroyers. Early the next morning, MASSEY’s motor whaleboat with LT Mike Stubbs aboard as boat officer went alongside LIBERTY’s heavily damaged starboard side to transfer medical personnel to the ship while DAVIS went alongside to prepare LIBERTY for the towing. That afternoon, as Davis towed the stricken LIBERTY to Malta, MASSEY screened AMERICA as Task Group (TG) 60.1 steamed through the troubled waters of the eastern Mediterranean.
MASSEY resumed operations with TG 60.2 and on the Fourth of July was celebrated with gunnery exercises that produced a ‘hashmark’ under each “E”. On 10 August, aircraft from USS ESSEX (CVS 9) sighted a Soviet WHISKEY class diesel submarine.
The sub dived and used evasive tactics including air slugs and false target devices to escape detection. MASSEY maintained continuous sonar contact on the Whiskey Class sub with her VDS towed array sonar and after 3 hours, the sub surfaced and steamed toward the Algerian coast. Two other submarines were tracked for twenty hours and fifteen hours each with the VDS during this deployment. On 12 September 1967, MASSEY began her Atlantic crossing arriving Newport on 21 September.
After tender availability with USS CASCADE (AD 16) The MASSEY operated from 17 October until 2 December in the Atlantic from Newport to Key West. She spent the last month of the year in Newport along with some tender time with the CASCADE that saw the ship’s laundry completely renovated.
“From start to finish, 1967 was a long and busy year indeed.”
CDR. W. S. Lewis
Note: The historical information provided on this web site is not the official history of the USS MASSEY. It is based in part on the recollection of many authors, some former Commanding Officers, all former MASSEY shipmates, who contributed to developing the chronology of events that marked some of the noteworthy contributions of this fine Man O’ War to our Navy’s history over nearly 30 years of active service.
I was aboard the Massey 1967-1968. I was the boat signalman during the Liberty incident.
I was on the Dyess DD 880 ,We were the last US Ship to go through the Suez canal , before they sank a ship a the port of Said 9 hrs later ,That cut us off from the med . fleet , Israel was hitting targets all along the canal as we went through . They knew exactly what they were doing .
Charles R. Cooke – One of the two Cooke brothers (Bennie)who served aboard the Massey between September 1966 thru June 1968.
The Westpac cruise, including our support operations to forces in Viet Nam, and continuing on to complete an around the cruise back to our homeport of Newport, Rhode Island, was the highlight of my entire life to this day.
Yes, I also remember the U.S.S. Liberty incident so well, and also to this day, it too still affects my emotions so much each time I hear the name, or see a picture of that horrible day!
I still remember the Liberty incident. Was in radio shack up on HiComm with Ivanhoe and other nets listening to aircraft being scrambled to assist the Liberty and being called back. Also listened as names of the deceased were stated to be read over non secure HiComm before being asked to stop. In my opinion Israel knew it was an American ship.
Are you Mike More that lived in New jersey exit 5 on the turnpike. I lived in skid row with Tiffany and Don Dobry. I also remember the Liberty and the 38 shipmates that perished. We recieved no reconistion for this duty. How are you doing?
I remember the Liberty incident well. i was on the lee helm when
it was live on the radio. I was the boat coxswain driving Mr Stubbs to the Liberty.
Massey finally got the DASH birds during the overhaul in late ’66 – early ’67. By the way, the url below provides a look at the Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation – giving you a history of the DASH.
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