Guided Missile Destroyer

DD 949 / DDG 33  -  USS Parsons



DDG-33 USS Parsons patch crest insignia

DDG-33 USS Parsons

Type, Class:


Guided Missile Destroyer; Decatur - class (converted Forrest Sherman DD)

built as DD 949; converted to DDG 33



Litton Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA



Laid down: June 17, 1957

Launched: August 19, 1958

Commissioned: as DD 949: October 29, 1959

Decommissioned: as DD 949: January 19, 1966

Commissioned: as DDG 33: November 3, 1967

Decommissioned: as DDG 33: November 19, 1982


Fate: Stricken May 15, 1984

finally sunk as a target on April 25, 1989

- off the west coast by a Harpoon fired by USS Fletcher (DD 992)






Named after and in honor of Rear Admiral William Sterling Parsons (1901 - 1953)

> see history, below;

Ship’s Motto:



Technical Data:

(Measures, Propulsion,

Armament, Aviation, etc.)


see: INFO > Decatur - class Guided Missile Destroyer


ship images


DDG-33 USS Parsons


DDG-33 USS Parsons



William Sterling Parsons


William Sterling Parsons, US Navy


Robert Oppenheimer, Leslie Groves, Robert Sproul and William Sterling Parsons

J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leslie Groves, Robert Sproul and William S. "Deak" Parsons at Army-Navy E Award ceremony



Namesake & History:

Rear Admiral William Sterling Parsons (November 26, 1901 – December 5, 1953):


William Sterling Parsons, born at Chicago Illinois, 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. 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.


USS Parsons (DDG 33):


DDG-33 began her career as Forrest Sherman-class destroyer. Her keel was laid down 17 June 1957 by Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi. She was launched on 17 August 1958, sponsored by Mrs. William S. Parsons, and commissioned 29 October 1959 at Charleston, South Carolina with Commander W. R. Loomis in command.

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 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.

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. 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 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 embarked. Parsons also visited Kaohsiung, Yokosuka, 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.




DDG-33 USS Parsons patch crest insignia  DDG-33 USS Parsons cruise patch



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