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Hull Number: DD-949

Launch Date: 08/19/1958

Commissioned Date: 10/29/1959

Decommissioned Date: 11/19/1982

Call Sign: NHDX

Voice Call Sign: CENTER FIELD

Other Designations: DDG-33

Class: HULL

HULL Class

Data for USS Richard S. Edwards (DD-950) as of 1965

Length Overall: 418’ 5"

Beam: 44’ 11 1/2"

Draft: 22' 3"

Full Load Displacement: 4,038 tons

Fuel capacity: 665 tons


Three 5″/54 caliber guns
Two 3″/50 caliber twin mounts
Two 12.75″ triple anti-submarine torpedo tubes
Hedgehog Launcher
Depth Charge Track


18 Officers
256 Enlisted


4 Boilers
2 General Electric Turbines: 70,000 horsepower

Highest speed on trials: 33 knots



Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, August 2015

William Sterling Parsons, born at Chicago, III., 26 November 1901, was appointed to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1918 and commissioned Ensign upon graduating in June 1922. His first assignment was in Idaho (BB-42) which was followed by post graduate study in ordnance engineering at the Navy Postgraduate School, Washington, D.C. He then served on board Texas (BB-35) before returning to Washington as Liaison Officer between the Bureau of Ordnance and the Naval Research Laboratory, where he aided in the early development of “RADAR.” In 1939 he was assigned as Experimental Officer at the Navy Proving Grounds, Dahlgren, Va. and helped to develop the radio proximity fuse for anti-aircraft shells for the fleet.

On 15 June 1943 he reported to the Los Alamos Laboratory (Manhatten District) at Los Alamos, New Mexico as Ordnance Division Associate Director. After witnessing the atom bomb test in New Mexico he was appointed Officer-in-charge of the Overseas (Tinian, Marianas) Technical Group, and as Bomb Commander he assembled, in flight, the triggering device of the first atomic bomb used in combat over Hiroshima 6 August 1945. He was next assigned as Assistant Chief of Naval Operations for Special Weapons and as Deputy Commander for Technical Direction and Commander Task Group 1.1, conducting the tests on the effectiveness of atomic weapons on naval vessels at Bikini Island. For “exceptional meritorious service in connection with the development of the atomic bomb…” and “gallantry in action while participating in aerial flight against the Japanese Empire, arming and directing the release of the atomic bomb over Hiroshima 6 August 1945…” and “exceptional meritorious conduct as Deputy Commander for Technical Direction, Joint Task Force One, during Operation CROSSROADS…,” he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star, and the Legion of Merit.

Having served as Commodore from 10 August 1945, and as temporary Rear Admiral from 8 January 1946 to 7 August 1947, he was promoted to Rear Admiral 1 July 1948.

After serving in various ordnance billets and as a member of the Atomic Energy Commission, he was ordered to duty as Deputy and Assistant Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department. While serving in this capacity, he died suddenly 5 December 1953.


Stricken 5/15/1984. Sunk as target 4/25/1989.

A Tin Can Sailors Destroyer History


The Tin Can Sailor, October 2001

The PARSONS was commissioned at Charleston. South Carolina, on 29 October 1959. Operating out of San Diego, she deployed to the Western Pacific for the first time in October 1960. She alternated between San Diego and the Far East until she was  converted to a Guided Missile Destroyer and recommissioned on 3 November 1967 as DDG-33. In September 1968, as DesRon 31 flagship, she headed for Vietnam with the HORNET (CVS-12).

On Yankee Station in the Tonkin Gulf, she served as antisubmarine warfare training coordinator for DesRon 31 and plane guard for the CORAL SEA (CV-43) and HANCOCK (CV-19). By March 1969, she was in the Taiwan Straits as plane guard for the HORNET. In mid-April she and her battle group were on alert in the Sea of Japan in response to the downing of a U.S. Navy plane by North Korean aircraft.

A midshipman cruise, missile tests, exercises with the NEW JERSEY (BB-62), and carrier operations out of San Diego took her into December 1969. She was underway for the Pacific Missile Range on 11 December when a Philippine fishing boat rammed her, causing only minor damage to the PARSONS but requiring immediate action by the destroyer’s crew to rescue the eighteen fishermen before their boat sank.

Bound for Vietnam in March 1970 with the SHELTON (DD-790) and DUNCAN (DD-874), she joined the CORAL SEA off the coast of Cambodia where search and rescue operations occurred with tragic regularity during hazardous missions flown by the carrier’s planes. In May the PARSONS supported U.S. ground forces in Cambodia. By July, she had answered over two hundred calls for fire, tallying twenty-two missions and twenty-two successes. For six days more, she served as plane guard for the attack carrier BON HOMME RICHARD (CVA-31) and then headed for home and overhaul.

In October 1971, the PARSONS changed her home port from San Diego to Yokosuka, Japan with other ships of DesRon 15 and by December, was en route to the Indian Ocean where she operated with the ENTERPRISE (CVAN-65) during the India-Pakistan crisis. In January 1972 she returned to Vietnam, the gun line, and the North Search and Rescue area of the Tonkin Gulf, operating at various times with the WORDEN (DLG-18), MAHAN (DLG-11), WHIPPLE (DE-1061), and JOHN R. CRAIG (DD-885). On the gun line near the DMZ on 22 April, coastal guns fired some twenty-five 155-mm rounds at her but inflicted no damage. Following escort duty with the HANCOCK, she returned to Yokosuka after seventy-seven days at sea.

Through the summer and into the fall, she returned several more times to the gun line, at Point Diane and Point Allison; patrolled north of the DMZ to interdict boats supplying the North Vietnamese; participated in exercises with the Nationalist Chinese Navy off Kaohsiung, Taiwan; engaged in plane guard duty for the ORISKANY (CVA-34); and operated with the ENGLAND (DLG-21) in the North SAR area.

During one nineteen-day period in October 1972, the PARSONS fired 3,246 rounds supporting South Vietnamese efforts to retake the northern region of Quang Tri Province. On the gun line on 6 December, the PARSONS and TOWERS (DDG-9) came under enemy fire south of Cap Lay. Emerging unscathed, they answered with a deadly barrage.

During February 1973 the PARSONS joined the TRIGGER (SS-564), KRAUS (DD-864), and O’CALLAHAN (DE-1051) for ASW exercises with the Republic of China Navy and, following the cessation of hostilities, operated with the CONSTELLATION (CVA-64), GOLDSBOROUGH (DDG-20), GURKE (DD-783), and FANNING (DE-1076) in the Tonkin Gulf. On 1 March she  headed back to Japan and operations with the ROWAN (DD-782), GURKE, and BAUSELL (DD-845). The summer was spent in exercises off Taiwan with the HAMMOND (DE-1067) and EDSON (DD-946), a visit to Pusan, South Korea, and routine operations in Japan. In August, the PARSONS joined the WHIPPLE (DE-1062) and GRAY (DE-1054) on the North SAR station. Gunnery exercises in the Philippines, operations with the Korean navy, and plane guard duty with the MIDWAY (CVA-41) in the Tonkin Gulf, the Philippines, and the Sea of Japan occupied her through April 1974. She spent the rest of the year undergoing a regular overhaul.

Exercises with the Australian and New Zealand navies and escort duty with the MIDWAY in Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Korea took her into September 1977 when she got underway for her first Indian Ocean cruise. In 1978 and 1979, she underwent an overhaul, refresher training, and routine operations before accompanying the KITTY HAWK (CVA-63) to the Gulf of Thailand. There, on 7 August 1979, the PARSONS rescued eighteen South Vietnamese refugees. She was with the MIDWAY, BAINBRIDGE (DLGN-25), KNOX (FF-1052), and STEIN (DE-1065) on 24 November when the battle group was ordered to the Arabian Sea to take station off Iran in response to the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the taking of  hostages, a crisis compounded by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. After three months at sea, she returned to Yokosuka in February 1980.

In June 1980, she and the MIDWAY responded following the assassination of South Korean President Park and in September, stood by during the Iran-Iraq War. Returning to the Philippines in October, the PARSONS picked up 111 Vietnamese refugees 240 miles southeast of Saigon and took them with her to Subic Bay. En route to Yokosuka, her skipper received a broken leg when the destroyer was caught by Typhoon Betty. She finally made port on 5 November and on 1 December exchanged home ports with the TOWERS (DDG-9) leaving Yokosuka for San Diego after nine years in Japan. Routine operations kept her busy until her decommissioning on 19 November 1982. The PARSONS was struck from the navy’s list on 15 May 1984.

USS PARSONS DD-949 Ship History

Wikipedia (as of 2024)

USS Parsons (DD-949/DDG-33) began her career as a Forrest Sherman-class destroyer of the United States Navy. She was named in honor of Rear Admiral William S. Parsons (1901–1953), who worked on the Manhattan Project during World War II.

Parsons’ keel was laid down 17 June 1957 by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was launched on 17 August 1959, sponsored by Mrs. William S. Parsons, and commissioned 29 October 1959 at Charleston, South Carolina.

After shakedown, Parsons reported to her home port, San Diego, California, and commenced operations with the First Fleet in February 1960. In October she deployed to the Western Pacific with Seventh Fleet units. She returned to resume West Coast operations in July 1961 and entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 6 October for major improvements in her communications and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) equipment. She then rejoined the First Fleet in extensive coastal training from January to November 1962, deployed for her second WestPac tour in November, and returned in July 1963 to the California coast.

Under the command of Cdr. Jack Jester, USN, during the summer and fall of 1963 she carried out AAW and ASW operations in the San Diego, California area. During November she escorted Midway (CVA-41) and Hancock (CVA-19) to the Western Pacific and returned to San Diego. During the summer of 1965, Parsons visited San Francisco, Puget Sound, and Hawaii as part of the Pacific Midshipman Training Squadron.[1] Parsons continued her training and service operations alternately with First Fleet and Seventh Fleet until she was decommissioned at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard on 19 January 1966.

Parsons was one of four Forrest Sherman-class destroyers selected for conversion from all-gun destroyers to the new Decatur class of guided missile destroyer. The others were Decatur (DD-936/DDG-31), John Paul Jones (DD-932/DDG-32), and Somers (DD-947/DDG-34). Parsons was assigned hull classification symbol DDG-33 on 15 March 1967, recommissioned 3 November 1967, and assigned to the Cruiser-Destroyer Force, Pacific Fleet. Following shakedown she carried out a rigorous testing program for her missile systems, and in September 1968 she assumed duties as flagship for Destroyer Squadron 31 (DesRon 31) and immediately deployed to the Western Pacific for operations with the Seventh Fleet off Vietnam. Interspersed with her aircraft carrier escort duties on Yankee Station, she conducted on-station training operations, assuming duties as ASW training coordinator ship with Commander Destroyer Squadron 31 (ComDesRon 31) embarked. Parsons also visited KaohsiungYokosuka, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sasebo. She returned to San Diego, California, on 12 May 1969 to resume operations from there and train for her next deployment.

The conversion removed both of the after 5 in (127 mm) 54-caliber gun mounts and installed one AN/SPG-51C Missile Fire Control System (MFCS), one Mk.13 Guided Missile Launching System (GMLS), one Anti-Submarine Rocket (ASROC) system, and modified the Gun Fire Control System to accommodate an illuminator to provide a second missile capable Gun/Missile Fire Control System (G/MFCS). The ship could then engage two air targets simultaneously (one with each FCS) using from two to four Tartar medium-range, less than 20 nautical mile (37 km) missiles, depending upon the engagement policy in force (Shoot-Look-Shoot or Shoot-Shoot-Look).

The forward five-inch/54-caliber gun mount was retained as were the torpedo tubes. The 5 in (127 mm) 54-caliber gun was, nominally, a rapid-fire mount capable of firing over 30 rounds per minute at targets up to ranges of 12 nautical miles (22 km). The torpedo launchers each held three Mk46 torpedoes, for use only against submarines.

The conversion created a unique ship, but one that never found a unique role. In the long run, one of the ship’s best capabilities, convoy escort, was taken over by the Oliver Hazard Perry class.

After conversion, Parsons was homeported in San Diego, California, from re-activation until late 1971, when the ship, as part of Destroyer Squadron 15 (DesRon 15), was forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. As part of this movement, the families of all eligible crewmen were transported to Japan, where they lived in U.S. Navy Housing, located in both the Yokosuka and Yokohama areas.

From December 1971 through December 1972, Parsons provided support to forces afloat and ashore involved in the Vietnam War by operating as:

  • Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS) unit in both I and IV Corps areas, with the vast majority of operating time spent very close to the DMZ, supporting Marines in that area.
  • Search and Rescue (SAR) unit (or escort when a DLG held the SAR position) at both the North (N-SAR) and South (S-SAR) stations in the northern Tonkin Gulf. This station provided a means to rescue downed U.S. pilots.
  • Carrier escort on Yankee Station.

Parsons left Vietnam for the last time on or around 19 December 1974.

On 29 October 1980 she rescued 111 Vietnamese refugees 330 miles south of Saigon.

DDG operations ranged from Anti-Aircraft Warfare (AAW) to Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to Anti-Surface Warfare (SUW) and Naval Gunfire Support (NFGS) and included, as necessary, Electronic Warfare (EW).

Parsons was decommissioned on 19 November 1982. She was stricken from the Navy Directory on 1 December 1984, and finally disposed of as a target on 25 April 1989.