USS Floyd B. Parks DD-884
"The Fightin' Floyd B"

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Floyd B. Parks (DD884)

Tony Allou former CIC officer

After completing 16 weeks of training at the Naval CIC Officer's school, NAS, Glynco in Brunswick I was transferred to the USS Floyd B. Parks on 3 February, 1958. I reported on board on 11 February. At that time the Parks was the flagship for COMDESDIV 11 and COMDESRON 1. The DESDIV 11 ships were:

Floyd B. Parks (DD 884)
John R. Craig (DD 885)
Orleck (DD 886)
Perkins (DDR 877)

At this time right before the 1958 WESTPAC deployment the officer roster was:

Commanding officer Emmett M. Compton CDR USN
Executive officer John O. Bachert LCDR USN
Operations officer Albert O. Floyd LT USN
Engineering officer Thomas F. Arnold LTJG USN
Gunnery officer Jerry Ainsworth LTJG USN
Supply officer Bruce Haupt LTJG USNR
CIC officer John Ayres LTJG USN
Comm officer Kent Larabee ENS USN
EMO Ralph Armstrong LTJG USNR
ASW/Fox div Dan Gaines ENS USNR
First division John O'Rourke LTJG USNR
Second division Thomas P. James ENS USN
Main prop asst Milton McCutcheon ENS USN
Damage cont asst Edmund Miller ENS USNR


COMDESRON 1 Nathan Sugarman CAPT USN
Mat'l officer Andy Jurash LCDR USN
Operations Dan Banks LT USN
COMM officer Dennis Osbourne LTJG USNR
Staff Aerographer Doug Brannock LTJG USNR

( I may not have the correct ranks or the USN/USNR designations but I believe they are pretty close-good enough for government work!) Before reporting, that is while I was in CIC Officer School located at NAS Glynco in Brunswick, Georgia I received correspondence from LCDR Buell the retiring XO, whom I never met and Al Floyd who was to be my boss.

The Parks was under way for the 1958 WESTPAC cruise only a few days after I reported aboard. The main event of the cruise was supporting the nuclear weapons tests of Operation Hardtack at Eniwetok Proving Grounds (EPG). The Parks was going to be incorporated in joint task force (JTF) 7 and was to operate as a weather ship and be available for emergency evacuation duty.

As I can best remember on the second week of February we were underway from San Diego 32nd Street Naval station enroute to Pearl Harbor with the eight ships of DESRON 1. The transit to Pearl was eventful to me since gales battered us for the greatest part of the time. I was a green ensign (what is known as a boot "insect") and felt every roll and pitch of our little tin can. The weather mitigated on the day we arrived in Pearl Harbor and the greenhorns amongst the crew had a chance to regain our equilibrium.

After a few days at "Pearl" we were underway for the South Pacific. I was serving as assistant CIC officer to John Ayres whom I would relieve later in the cruise. En route to Pago Pago, on Tutuila, American Samoa we crossed the equator on February, 28.The crossing was memorable with the "pollywogs" among us getting washed down with water from firehoses fitted with "suicide" nozzles, crawling through the gauntlet, kissing the "sea" baby's belly and crawling through the garbage chute. A couple of days later the squadron pulled into Pago Pago.

We spent a Sunday in Pago Pago and I remember going to Mass in a small open walled, thatched roofed and rough board floored church. The priest was a bearded Frenchman probably from Tahiti. The locals, mostly polynesian were in their Sunday white suits and dresses, but were all bare footed-an interesting sight to me. After church we went to a hotel which reminded people of the one in Maugham's short story, "Rain." Heavy drinking was the order of the day. One young seaman returned to the ship drunk and was perturbed when dressed down by the MAA at the quarterdeck. he found a Very pistol in the bridge and shot the MAA in the head with a flare, fortunately it only grazed the head and the flare ignited far from the ship. The young fellow was incarcerated in the Desron staff office until we could turn him over to the authorities in Eniwetok for court martial.

On Monday the squadron was underway. Desdiv 12 departed for Australia and we were enroute to Eniwetok proving grounds with stops at Auckland, New Zealand and Suva on Viti Levu, Fiji Islands.
My memory has dimmed over the years, but I think it took us about five days to transit from American Samoa to New Zealand. In fact I seem to remember that we arrived on a Saturday. The harbor in Auckland was crowded with sailboats participating in some sort of regatta. We moored across the bay from Auckland at a New Zealand navy base HMNZS something or other- I can't remember the name. Auckland was a delightful port of call. We reached the city by ferry and could enjoy the hospitality of the "Kiwis" as the folks called themselves. One thing I can remember is the tides which varied by 13 feet from low to high. At high tide the main deck was at a slightly higher level than the dock and at low tide you had a steep climb to go ashore. We spent a good part of the week in New Zealand, being befriended by some officers from a frigate also tied up at the naval station. We grudgingly left Auckland and were once more underway, this time for Suva in the Fiji Islands.

The elapsed time for the transit to the Fijis was about a week. About half way there the division was caught by a full blown typhoon. Our ships took aterrific beating with sustained winds inthe 80 knot range. We steamed in a loose expanded diamond formation for maneuvering room while keeping in sight of one another. We were taking some terrific rolls and if my memory serves me right, I saw the bridge inclinometer needle swing to over 40° while I was standing a JOOD watch. You could see the screws of the other ships coming clear of the water as we all strove to head into the waves to prevent broaching. I was quartered in the after wardroom or "Boys Town" (junior officer bunk room)as it was known.
I can remember shoes and other items floating in the couple of inches of water that had penetrated the area. One of the things that I found fascinating was one of the Mark 11 ASW torpedoes along with its dolly had broken loose on the main deck and was roving around everytime the ship rolled. No one could get to it to somehow stop it, however as luck would have it, it lodged fast between a stanchion and the main deck superstructure. In the rough weather we also lost some of the compressed helium gas cylinders stored on the fantail.

We made landfall at Viti Levu after riding out the storm. As we maneuvered in Suva harbor, a Canadian light cruiser, HMCS Ontario, was clearing the breakwater also planning to moor at the pier. She signalled the Parks to " get the hell out of my way!" This angered CAPT Sugarman the DESRON 1 commodore and he bounded from the ship as soon as we had the gangway down racing to meet the Ontario. Wearing his dress whites he was quite a sight going up the gangway to confront the cruiser's skipper. A forthcoming apology was accepted by our commodore. Unfortunately the incident caused some friction between the DESDIV 11 sailors and their Canadian counterparts and the ensuing near riots culminated in DESDIV 11 being asked to leave early the next morning.

We were now underway, bound for Eniwetok Proving Grounds where we would participate in the testing of nuclear and thermonuclear warheads. The transit was uneventful and after about a week we entered Eniwetok Atoll through the passage between Parry and Japtan Islands. The division anchored in the atoll with the other ships of joint task force 7.

Our mission was weather and evacuation. The destroyers would act as weather ships reporting high altitude winds for predicting fallout areas after the various tests. With our presence in the area the task force would have ships to help evacuate in case of natural disasters or mishaps with the weapons testing.

Our initial time spent in Eniwetok was preparing for the high altitude tracking of aluminum chaff with our main battery fire control radar. We tested small un guide rockets fired through the barrels of mount 51's fully elevated 5" 38's. These rockets released chaff at high altitudes. However acquisition by the F/C radar was unreliable at best. The method of blowing chaff to coat the inner surface of a large, atmospheric sounding balloon. This was done while filling the balloon with helium from compressed gas cylinders located on the fantail. We found the radar could easily lock-on and we could track it up to 100 000 feet in the stratosphere.

As far as recreation went the only thing available was liberty on Japtan. The island was fitted with two thatch roofed bars, one for officers and the other for enlisted men. Most of the time was spent drinking and playing volley ball; the island wasn't big enough to have a softball field. The liberty boats making the rounds were either LCM's or LCT's. Usually the liberty boats would make the rounds of the ships anchored in the atoll and dump them on a beach at Parry Island, then an LCT would pick up the combined liberty parties and off-load at Japtan. The hot sun combined with plenty of low cost booze had the effect of essentially rendering the troops to a mass of incoherent humanity. Thank God we didn't have to many liberties there as we were underway a good part of the time.

We refuelled from an oil barge which had a reinforced concrete hull instead of one of steel. This was of some historical interest as a good many of these concrete "ships" were built to conserve steel during the second world war. Only a few were still in service through the early 1960's. We would sortie from Eniwetok to take station a couple of hundred miles from the islands prior to a "shot" to help map the upper altitude winds. The balloons would be released from the fantail and as the ship steamed at very low speed - say five knots or so- the Mark 37 main battery control would acquire the rising balloon with its fire control radar. The altitude, range and bearing would relayed by sound powered phone to CIC where the information was plotted on a DRT trace and wind velocities calculated. This procedure was followed (I believe) four times a day. The results would be encrypted and sent to the central weather office in Eniwetok so that wind patterns could be predicted to determine fallout areas. The ship would be maneuvered so that the mount's 720° maximum rotation was not exceeded. We participated in one surface test of about 1.5 megaton yield at Eniwetok and a like test at Bikini. We also participated in a subsurface trial of a nuclear depth charge which had a yield in the low kiloton range.

Two aberrations from our routine occured. While we were on weather station, Tom James our Fox division officer came down with an acute appendicitis attack. We raced back to Eniwetok at full speed to deliver him to the Army hospital. He recovered well with antibiotic treatments and was back on board after a little less than two weeks. The second item was the sonar detection of an unidentified submarine. We had assistance tracking this contact from P2V's stationed on Guam. Unfortunately the sonar power vacuum tubes overheated and we couldn't maintain contact.

When our tour at EPG ended we were again underway for longer journeys, this time to Yokosuka, Japan.
Before the 1959 WESTPAC deployment the officer roster was:

Commanding officer Walter F.V. Bennett CDR USN
Executive officer James Yerly LCDR USN
Operations officer Thomas W. McNamara LT USN
Engineering officer Edmund Miller LTJG USN
Gunnery officer Thomas F. Arnold LTJG USN
Supply officer John V. Bell LTJG USNR
CIC officer Tony Allou ENS USNR
Comm officer Robert Wintz ENS USNR
EMO Robin Ollivier ENS USNR
ASW/Fox div Thomas P. James ENS USNR
First division John O'Rourke LTJG USNR
Second division Berton Robbins III ENS USN
Main prop asst Milton McCutcheon ENS USN
Damage cont asst William Demchak ENS USNR


Mat'l officer Andy Jurash LCDR USN
Operations Dan Banks LT USN
COMM officer Kent W. Larabee LTJG USNR

Later additions to the roster included, chronologically; ENS Dave Whitehead (in Guam), Keith Knoblock (in Hong Kong), Bill Wirth (on return CONUS), LTJG John Ulrich (on return CONUS), ENS Bill Bancroft (on return CONUS) and ENS Al Crosby SC (on return CONUS). Note that all these replaced various officers transferred from the Parks.

Tony Allou
Historian FBP Association