The USS Parsons DD-949 was built by Ingalls Shipbuilding located in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The vessel was laid down June 17, 1957. She was launched on August 17, 1959, and commissioned in October of that year. The Forrest Sherman-class destroyer weighed 4,000 tons and had a length of 418 feet. She was capable of reaching speeds up to 33 knots per hour. Following shakedown, she reported to her home port in San Diego, California, under the command of Commander W. R. Loomis.
The Parsons joined the 1st Fleet in the early part of 1960. She then deployed in October for the Western Pacific. The following October, she entered the Long Beach Naval Shipyard, where her communications system was improved. She was also equipped with antisubmarine warfare. In January 1962, she once again rejoined the 1st Fleet. This took her on extensive coastal training through November. The same month she went on her second WestPac Tour and then returned in July 1963 to the coast of California. After conducting AAW and ASW operations in San Diego, escorting some other ships, she returned to San Diego. She was then decommissioned on January 19, 1966, at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard.
Action in the Vietnam War
After being converted from an all gun destroyer to the new Decatur class, the Parsons was recommissioned on November 3, 1967. After undergoing her shakedown, she joined a testing program for her missile systems. She once again joined the 7th Fleet off Vietnam. Her capabilities included escorting other ships.
She was then sent to Yokosuka, Japan, in 1971. During the next year, the Parsons offered support to those forces afloat as well as those ashore involved in the Vietnam War. She spent her time there offering Naval Gunfire Support (NGFS). This caused her to spend most of her time close to the DMZ, supporting the Marines in that specific area. She also offered search and rescue (SAR) assistance. She focused primarily on U.S. pilots who had been downed. She was also a carrier escort on Yankee Station. Her DDG operations ranged from AAW to ASW, SUW, and NFGS assistance as needed. She left Vietnam in December 1974. In October 1980, she successfully rescued 110 Vietnamese refugees.
The USS Parsons DD-949 was decommissioned November 19, 1982. This was followed, on December 1, 1984, by her being removed from the Navy list. She was then used as a target and sunken on April 25, 1989.
Asbestos in Navy Ships
Although an essential component of the naval fleet, especially during World War II, naval destroyers also pose a lasting health risk to soldiers serving on them. Unfortunately, products containing asbestos were common, especially on older ships, because of the material’s high resistance to heat and fire. Despite its value as an insulator, asbestos fiber intake can lead to several serious health consequences, including mesothelioma, a devastating cancer without cure. Current and former military personnel who came into contact with these ships should seek immediate medical attention to detect possible health consequences associated with asbestos exposure.