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.
Served with bm3 schuckmann 68–70 I was in charge of paint locker.massey was well maintained during those years.
I was on her winter of 68 to mid 70 as a stew burner called FRENCHY and was with Joe Castellucci and Mike Moore. The “snipes” would come out of there hole, around mid-nite underway , and needed cans of raisins. BT’S and snipes knew what magic was created that night. Man, what memories.
That was Gene Cross in the above paragraph
I served aboard the Massey from December 1967 until I was released from active duty April 2, 1971. I came aboard as a QMSN and departed as a QM2. I was the Helmsman for sea and anchor detail, refueling detail and for all special operations except general quarters. I was at aft steering for that. Made the ’68 and ’69 Med Cruise and numerous other cruises down the east coast. I met and got to know a lot of great Sailors. What a time it was.
I also served with Joe Cattelluci 1967 1968 1st.div with all other Boatswains mates. Great memories !
I served on the USS Massey in 1967 1968 when it was home ported in Newport RI and was on that med. cruise that year. I do remember Joe Castellucci and Rivera Serrano Castellucci ran the paint locker and Serrano was deck hand like I was also during that time I served with great pride.
Served on as a reserve crew member before and after active duty. My time in the navy was from 1969 thru 1975.
I sailed on her in the ’70’s as a shipboard observer and evaluator with Reserve Underway Training Unit (RUTU) and FTG 202. We operated out of the Whitestone N.Y. reserve Center.
We would pick up the ship on Friday night or Saturday morning at Ft Schyler or Brooklyn and hold underway drills.
We wore the red ball caps.
I served on the Massey 1971/72, knew Jan McCollum, and Jim Ogle, and remember John Cherubini. When I served the Massey was at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Brooklyn Navy Yard, and finally at Ft. Schuyler, Throggs Neck in the Bronx. When we came down Long Island Sound we would pick up a Hell-Gate Pilot, who would guide the ship to her berth at Ft. Schuyler. The pilot was Jimmy Thombs a neighbor of mine at City Island. When the Massey was decommissioned he was able to get some artifacts from the ship including the Compass/Binnacle post which is in a yacht yard office across the street from where I am on City Island. I will forward a photo of it later.
I also have super 8 movies of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in September of 1971 of which I plan to convert to a dvd.
I pretty much lived a “McHales Navy” on the Massey, had my surfboard onboard and slept home most nights when in port and not on duty. I do have fond memories and respect for the officers, CWO’s, and crew of the Massey.
I served from 1967 to 1971, those were the best years of a great military life.Now retired I can still remember the great times during the Med cruises. Thank you all for the memories.
I served on the Massey Oct. 70 till Dec. 72. I knew Jim Ogle as I was a QM in the Ops Dept. Proud to say that Jim and I are still great friends today. Seems to me that Milazzo rings a bell. I have great memories of the Massey and her crew from my days on Board.
I also served proudly on the Massey 1966-1968 with Joe
After a routine six-month deployment with NATO Forces in the Mediterranean, MASSEY returned to Newport in the latter part of September 1968. Her inport period during the latter part of 1968 and the first few months of 1969 were interspersed mainly by local operations and short deployments to Key West, Florida and the Caribbean area. **Addition: I was aboard from Dec.’68-Feb.’70. We also had a Med. Cruise in there. I believe May – Oct. ’69. Iwouldn’t forget that; Barcelona, Spain; Malta, Rome, Athens, & anyone remembers… Sfax, Tunisia?
Jim or John did you serve with my brother John R Milazzo (fire control)
I ALSO SERVED ON HER AS A 3RD CLASS BOATS FROM 8/72 TO 9/73, SHE STILL HAD PEP AND VIGER IN HER, WE RAN WEEKEND CRUSES AROUND LONG ISLAND FROM FORT SCHUYLER UP THROUGH N.Y. HOBOR, STOPPING N.Y’S TRAFFIC ALONG THE WAY. ONR CRUSE I HAD THE MID WATCH A CAME ALONG THE RUSSIN FISHING FLEET, WE TOLD BY THE OD TO WAKE UP THE CAPTIN, HE TOOK CONTROL OF THE BRIDGE, RANG UO ALL AHEAD FLANK..THE OLD GIRL WAS GREAT, WE ZIG-ZAG THROUGH THEM AND FLANK SPEED, WHEN WE WERE PASS THEM THE CAPTIN RETURNED TO HIS QUARTERS, WOW THE GOOD OL DAYS, I’LL LEAVE NAMES OUT SO NO ONE IS TO BLEAM….JUST SOME OF THE GOOD TIMES ABOARD THE “USS MASSEY DD778″……….
I PROUDLY SERVED ON MASSEY FROM MARCH ’69 TO JUNE ’72. I ADVANCED IN RANK FROM SEAMAN TO SM2 DURING THOSE YEARS. I AM VERUY PROUD TO SAY I WAS A MASSY SAILOR. ANYONE OUT THERE WHO SERVED WITH ME, I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU. JIM OGLE SM2 USN 732-859-0697