USS Parrott (DD-218)

USS Parrott (DD-218) was a Clemson class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean and Black Sea in 1922-25 and with the Asiatic Fleet from 1925 onwards. She survived the disastrous attempt to defend the Malay Barrier early in 1942, and returned to the US, from where she carried out escort duties and took part in anti-submarine hunter killer operations, before being decommissioned after she was badly damaged in a collision in 1944.

The Parrott was named after George Fountain Parrott, a US naval officer who was killed when the destroyer Shaw (DD-68) collided with the troopship HMS Aquitania on 9 October 1918.

The Parrott was laid down at Cramp’s of Philadelphia on 23 July 1919, launched on 25 November 1919 and commissioned on 11 May 1920.

The Parrott’s first tour of duty saw her join Destroyer Division 38 of the Pacific Fleet, based at San Diego. She arrived at her new base on 7 September 1920, where she became the flagship of her division. She operated along the west coast of American, from US waters to Valparaiso, Chile.

USS Parrott (DD-218) at Manila, 1931
USS Parrott (DD-218)
at Manila, 1931

On 3 December 1921 the Parrott was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet, and moved to Philadelphia. On 26-30 May 1922 she was used to escort the Presidential yacht Mayflower from Hampton Road to Washington. She was then chosen for service in the Mediterranean and Black Sea.

The Parrott and her division (Bulmer, Litchfield (DD-336), Parrott, Edsall (DD-219), MacLeish (DD-220), Simpson (DD-221) and McCormick (DD-223)) departed for Turkish waters on 12 June 1922. This flotilla departed from Philadelphia on 5 June and Newport on 12 June and reached Gibraltar on 22 June 1922. She reported to the Commander, US Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters at Constantinople. She was used to support relief efforts around the Black Sea coast of Russia and coast of the collapsed Ottoman Empire, as a communications ship, carrying mail between US bases, and as a station ship. From 13 September to 25 October 1922 she was used to evacuate refugees from Smyrna after the great fire that broke out soon after Turkish troops regained control of the port.

The Parrott was also used to show the flag. From 6 July-24 August 1923 she visited Greece, Turkey, Romania, Bulgaria and Russia.

On 6 May 1924 the Parrott was transferred to the command of the Commander, Naval Forces, Europe, as the presence in the Near East was scaled down. During 1924 she made formal visits to Bizerte, Tunis, Legarno, Genoa, Patmos, Villefranche, Cagliari and Sardinia. After this diplomatic tour she returned to the United States, reaching New York in July 1924.

The Parrott’s next assignment was to the Asiatic Fleet, where she would remain well into the Second World War. She left Philadelphia on 3 January 1925, and joined the Asiatic Fleet at Chefoo (now known as Yantai) in China on14 June 1925. She arrived during a period of high tension around Shanghai, and the Parrott joined a US flotilla that moved there, putting a landing force ashore. The Parrott remained at Shanghai until 31 July, and then returned again between 10 September and 16 October 1925 to serve with the Yangtze River Patrol.

Anyone who served on the landing force in June-July 1925 qualified for the Shanghai Expeditionary Medal.

Crashed Nakajima E8N1 alongside USS Parrott (DD-218), Shangai, 1937
Crashed Nakajima E8N1 alongside USS Parrott (DD-218), Shangai, 1937

The general pattern of operations for the Asiatic Fleet at this time was to spend the winter in Philippine waters and the summer in Chinese waters. The Parrott spend the period from 19 October 1925 to 15 March 1926 operating from Manila, and then joined the South China Patrol at its base at Swatow (Shantou), where she remained until 14 June. She spent the rest of the summer operating along the Chinese coast, before being relieved on 25 October 1927. Once again she returned to Manila, this time via Hong Kong, Bangkok and Saigon.

On 26 August 1928 the minesweeper USS Avocet (Minesweeper No.19) ran aground on a sand bar during a typhoon. It took a great deal of effort to lift her back off the sand bar. This included using the Parrott, MacLeish (DD-220) and Simpson (DD-221) to steam past her at high speed to create a wave to rock her free. Eventually this played a part in her successful rescue.

In 1928 the Parrott was used to show the flag at a number of Philippine ports that rarely saw American warships. This also included a trip to Guam, where she was photographed on 3 November 1928.

Anyone who served on her during one of fifteen periods between 7 January 1927 and 25 October 1932 qualified for the Yangtze Service Medal.

In February 1932 the Parrott was part of a US fleet that moved to Shanghai during the first Japanese attack on the city.

In 1935 she was ordered to French Indo-China to collect hydrographic data in and around Saigon (as part of a squadron that included the destroyers Peary, Pillsbury and Pope and the support ship Black Hawk). The squadron reached Tourane on 16 October and Saigon on 22 October, and departed for Manila on 2 November.

Between 1936 and 1940 she served as the station ship at Amoy and at Swatow.

In 1937 she returned to Shanghai to protect US interests as the Japanese attacked the city once again. In August 1937 she was docked at Gough Island, near Shanghai, when a Nakajima E8N1 ‘Dave’ floatplane was shot down, ended up in the water right along side her. Japanese salvage operations thus had to take place with an interested American audience.

In June 1938 she took part in a goodwill visit to French Indochina (with the Pope and Stewart), visiting Tourane from 20-25 June and Haiphong from 26-28 June, before returning to Manila on 30 June.

Anyone who served on her during four periods between 7 July 1937 and 4 September 1939 qualified for the China Service Medal

1941

The Parrott spent the first two months of 1941 at the Cavite Navy Yard, having anti-mine and sound detection gear installed. On 6 October she was assigned as the off shore sound patrol picket at the entrance to Manila Bay. However Admiral Hart, the commander of the Asiatic Fleet, didn’t want his destroyers to be trapped in Philippine Waters if the Japanese attacked, and in late November the Parrott joined Task Force 5 (Marblehead (CL-12), Stewart (DD-224), Barker (DD-213), Parrott (DD-218) and Paul Jones (DD-230)), which was making a visit to Tarakan, Borneo, in the Dutch East Indies.

The task force was still at Tarakan when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and invaded the Philippines. It moved south to Surabaya, Java, where it operated with British, Dutch and Australian forces as part of the new ABDA command.

On 27 December 1941 the Parrott left Surabaya as part of Task Force 5 (Holland(AD-3), Whippoorwill (AM-35), Langley, Marblehead, William B. Preston (AVD-7) and Stewart, heading for Darwin, Australia, arriving on 5 January 1942.

1942

In mid January the Parrott was part of a US force that attempted to catch a Japanese force at Celebes, but by the time the Americans arrived, the Japanese had gone. The task force returned to Kupang Bay on Dutch Timor on 18 January.

The Parrott then took part in one of the few Allied successes of this campaign, when she took part in a destroyer attack on a Japanese naval force in Balikpapan Bay. Between them the Parrott, John D. Ford (DD-228), Pope (DD-225) and Paul Jones (DD-230) sank four transports and one patrol boat (a First World War era destroyer) early on 24 January 1942 and then escaped intact.

The Parrott returned to Surabaya on 25 January. On 30 January she sailed to help escort two Dutch ships (Tjileboet and Tjitjalengka) to the Lombok Strait. On 2 February the destroyers were ordered to join a US convoy heading to Java from Darwin, reaching Tjilatjap on 4 February.

In mid-February the Parrott took part in an attempt to intercept a Japanese force heading for the east coast of Sumatra. On 15 February the ABDA force was attacked three times by Japanese aircraft, but the Parrott was undamaged during this attack.

After refuelling at Surabaya the Parrott was part of a sizable ABDA force that attempted to attack Japanese forces off Bali (battle of Badung Strait, 19-20 February 1942). Despite outnumbering the Japanese, the Allies were far worse at night fighting, and they lost one destroyer (the Dutch Piet Hein), while the Japanese escaped. The Parrott ran aground in the shallows off Bali but managed to get herself free and returned to Surabaya with the rest of the fleet.

By now the Parrott was running short of torpedoes and other supplies. She was chosen to escort SS Seawitch to Tjilatjap, arriving on 28 February. She was then sent to Fremantle, and thus missed the disastrous battle of the Java Sea.

The Parrott escorted the tender Black Hawk to Pearl Harbor, arriving on 15 June.

The Parrott continued on to the West Coast, where she underwent repairs that were over by July. She then served as an escort on eight trips from San Francisco to Pearl Harbor, often operating with the Bulmer, another survivor of the Asiatic Fleet.

1943

On 21 February she left San Francisco along with the Henderson (AP-1), Bulmer (DD-222) and William Ward Burrows, reaching Pearl Harbor on 2 March despite running into heavy weather.

On 30 March 1943 the Parrott, along with the Barker and Paul Jones left San Francisco heading for New York. They passed through the Panama Canal on 6 May and moved to New York, where they reported for duty on the transatlantic convoys.

The Parrott moved to New York in June, and carried out one return trip on escort duty. She then joined the hunter-killer anti-submarine group based around USS Croatan (CVE-25), along with the Paul Jones and the Belknap (AVD-8). She served with the Croatan’s group until 15 October, when she joined the hunter-killer group based on the Block Island (CVE-106) (Paul Jones (DD-230), Parrott, Barker (DD-213) and Bulmer (DD-222)).

On 25 October the Parrott was sent to investigate a radar contact, which turned out to be the surfaced U-488. The Parrott opened fire and managed to hole the submarine’s conning tower, but she managed to escape. On 28 October aircraft from the Block Island sank U-220. The cruise ended when the group reached Casablanca on 5 November,

On 10 November the group left Casablanca as part of the escort for Convoy GUS-220. She was then detached to try and find submarines off the Azores, before reaching Norfolk on 25 November 1943.

The Parrott remained with the group when it departed from the US on 15 December, as part of the escort for Convoy UGS-27. On 19 December the hunter-killer group was detached to hunt for U-boats north of the Azores. On 29 December the Parrott’s sonar detected a group of nine U-boats, but the weather was too bad for the Block Island’s aircraft to operate, and the destroyers were unable to sink any of the U-boats. The group reached Casablanca on 4 January 1944.

1944

The group left Casablanca on 8 January 1944 as part of the escort for two British convoys.

On 11 January 1944, while moved west across the Atlantic, she took part in a depth charge attack on a possible U-boat, again serving alongside the Bulmer. Later on the same day (or possibly on 14 January) the two destroyers rescued the captain, three other officers and thirteen enlisted men from a U-boat that had been sunk by land-based aircraft, probably U-231, sunk in the same area north-east of the Azores. The group then stopped at the Azores, where the Bulmer and Parrott were able to take on more depth charges. However bad weather limited the group’s effectiveness after this and they returned to Norfolk on 3 February. This ended the Parrott’s connection with the Block Island, which sailed with a different escort group on her next mission.

In March 1944 the Parrott returned to convoy escort duties. She escorted Convoy UGS-35 to Casablanca, arriving on 26 March. She was then used to bombard the coast of Spanish Morocco, close to Cape Spartel, on 27 March 1944, part of an effort to put pressure on Franco. She then helped escort Convoy GUS-34 back to Boston, arriving on 15 April 1944.

The Parrott’s war came to an accidental end on 2 May 1944. She was rammed by the SS John Morton while getting underway at Norfolk. The lightly constructed destroyer suffered such heavy damage that she had to be towed ashore by tugs. She was towed to Norfolk Naval Yard, but was considered to be too badly damaged to be worth repairing. She was decommissioned on 14 June 1944, struck from the Navy List on 18 July 1944 and sold for scrap on 5 April 1947.

Parrott earned two battle stars for service in World War II, for Asiatic Fleet operations (8 December 1941-7 March 1942) and for engagements in the Dutch East Indies at the Makassar Strait on 23-24 January 1942 and Badoeng Strait on 19-20 February 1942)

Displacement (standard)

1,190t

Displacement (loaded)

1,308t

Top Speed

35kts
35.51kts at 24,890shp at 1,107t on trial (Preble)

Engine

2-shaft Westinghouse geared tubines
4 boilers
27,000shp (design)

Range

2,500nm at 20kts (design)

Armour - belt

 

 - deck

 

Length

314ft 4in

Width

30ft 10.5in

Armaments

Four 4in/ 50 guns
One 3in/23 AA gun
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple mountings
Two depth charge tracks
One Y-Gun depth charge projector

Crew complement

114

Launched

25 November 1919

Commissioned

11 May 1920

Sold for scrap

5 April 1947

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann . The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.
cover cover cover

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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (28 March 2019), USS Parrott (DD-218) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_USS_Parrott_DD218.html

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