Ships of Pearl Harbor: USS Ramsay

February 23, 2019

USS Ramsay (DD-124) was laid down as a Wickes-class destroyer at Newport News, VA in December of 1917, and launched on June 8, 1918. She was commissioned into service in the US Navy on February 15, 1919, under the command of Cmdr H. H. Norton.

Early Service of USS Ramsay

Laid down and launched during the final months of World War I, the new destroyer wasn’t commissioned into service until after the war’s end. She was assigned to Division 12, Destroyer Force of the Atlantic Fleet and spent her first few months participating in fleet maneuvers off the East Coast of the United States, briefly sailing to the Azores to act as a guide and weather observer for early transatlantic airplane flights.

Returning to the United States in June of 1920, Ramsay began preparations to transfer to the West Coast, where she would serve two years with the Pacific Destroyer Force. On June 30, 1922, USS Ramsay was decommissioned for the first time and berthed in San Diego, CA, becoming part of the Reserve Fleet. In June of 1930, she was recommissioned and reclassified as a light minelayer. With the new designation DM-16, she was sent to her new home port of Pearl Harbor, in the Territory of Hawaii.

USS Ramsay Goes to War

On December 7, 1941, USS Ramsay was moored at Pearl Harbor after taking part in operations with Mine Divisions 5 and 2. At Berth D-3 in the harbor, Ramsay’s crew watched as the Japanese attack unfolded. When a bomb landed on the western end of Ford Island shortly before 0800, her commanding officer ordered general quarters and began firing her 3” 23 caliber guns on the incoming enemy planes. It was the first time her guns had been used in combat.

Aerial view of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941

Aerial view of Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941

Within an hour, Ramsay got underway to leave the harbor. As she was moving through the channel, her crew engaged a Japanese aircraft. According to gun crew reports and witnesses, the plane was destroyed by fire from the minelayer.

The attack had mostly subsided by the time Ramsay left the harbor. Fearing another strike, she was ordered to anti-submarine patrol near the harbor's entrance. Later that morning, at approximately 1120, USS Ramsay made contact with an enemy submarine. After releasing ten depth charges, her crew watched as oil started to spread across the area, indicating she had at least damaged—and likely sunk—one of the Japanese midget submarines that had taken part in the attack. Just over a week later, during an escort mission off Kauai, she made another contact. After dropping more depth charges, another oil slick rose to the surface.

For much of the War in the Pacific, USS Ramsay performed minelaying and escort patrols to Samoa, Fiji, the Aleutians, and other locations throughout the Pacific Theater. After the actions at Pearl Harbor and Kauai, Ramsay didn’t engage in further combat for the remainder of the war.

Ramsay was decommissioned in October of 1945. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 13 and eight days later she was sold for scrap. For her service in the Pacific, USS Ramsay received three battle stars.

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