USS Meade (DD-274)/ HMS Ramsey

USS Meade (DD-274) was a Clemson class destroyer that had a very brief career in the US Navy before going to Britain as part of the Destroyers for Bases deal, where she became HMS Ramsey. In British service she served on convoy escort duties, but her turbines proved to be unreliable and in August 1943 she was chosen for use as an air target ship, performing that role for the rest of the war.

Destroyer Division 31 in 1921
Destroyer Division 31 in 1921

The Meade was named after the brothers Richard Worsam Meade and Robert Lemy Meade, nephews of General George Meade. Richard served in the US Navy during the Civil War while Robert served in the US Marines during the Civil War, Spanish-American War and Boxer Rebellion.

The Meade was laid down by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp at Squantum, Mass on 23 September 1918. She was launched on 24 May 1919 and sponsored by Miss Annie Paulding Meade. She was commissioned on 8 September 1919 and allocated to the Pacific Fleet.

The Meade was based at San Diego for most of the next two years, taking part in the normal mix of fleet and squadron exercises. During 1922 she was part of Destroyer Division Thirty-One, made up of Bailey (DD-269), Thornton(DD-270), Morris (DD-271), Tingey (DD-272), Swasey (DD-273) and Meade (DD-274). She was decommissioned on 25 May 1922 and went into the reserve.

The Meade was recommissioned on 18 December 1939 as the US Navy expanded after the outbreak of war in Europe. She moved to the East Coast in 1940 and joined DesRon 9. She was then chosen as one of the fifty destroyers that went to Britain as part of the Destroyers for Bases deal, and was transferred to British control on 26 November 1940.

As HMS Ramsey

The Ramsey left Halifax on 5 December, and arrived later in the month. She was then taken into the Devonport Dockyard for conversion into a convoy escort ship. The refit was completed on 29 January 1941, and she was allocated to the 5th Escort Group, based at Liverpool. However that group wouldn’t get much service from her. She deployed with the group in February 1941 and had to move to Liverpool for repairs after her machinery broke down on 9 March.

The repairs took a month, and the chance was taken to given her improved radar. On 5 April she began a period of local convoy escort duty, before in May she was chosen to join the new Newfoundland Escort Force, which was to escort convoys from Canada to the Mid Atlantic Meeting Point.

From 3-7 June 1941 she formed part of the local escort of military convoy WS9A as it left the Clyde and headed through the North Western Approaches. After that she crossed the Atlantic to Newfoundland.

USS Meade (DD-274) from the left USS Meade (DD-274) from the left

In July the Ramsey began operating with Newfoundland Escort Force, and in August she joined the 22nd Escort Group. She operating in the western Atlantic from July-October 1941, and then went to Boston for a refit that lasted from November 1941 until January 1942.

From February 1942 to early April she operated with the 22nd Escort Group, but she then developed problems with her turbines. On 5 April she was taken in hand for repairs at Halifax, but the local facilities were unable to complete the work, so in May she was transferred to Charlestown, South Carolina. The turbines were clearly proving to be very troublesome, for in July it was decided to complete the work in the UK. On 27 July she left Halifax with convoy HX200, reaching Liverpool on 7 August. She moved to Belfast in September and the Clyde in October, and was finally considered to be ready for service later in that month.

On 22 October 1942 she joined the 6th Escort Group, but she only completed one Atlantic crossing with this group before she was withdrawn for a further refit, this time at Grimsby. This time she was given a new bridge in a lengthy refit that lasted until May 1943, and that would appear to have been something of a waste of effort!

In June 1943 she was recommissioned, then moved to Tobermory to work up ready to be deployed. However in August she was withdrawn from service as a convoy escort, and was chosen for use as an air target ship. In September her main armament and any other bits of unnecessary equipment were removed.

In October 1943 she was posted to the Irish Sea, where she was used to train aircrews in torpedo attacks. She continued to perform this roll until July 1945, when she was finally paid off and placed into the reserve at Rosyth.

The Ramsey was placed on the disposal list in 1947 and sold to BISCO on 18 February 1947. She was towed to the scrap yard at Bo’ness near Edinburgh in July 1947, and scrapped.


Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

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


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


2,500nm at 20kts (design)


314ft 4in


30ft 10.5in


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



24 May 1919


8 September 1919

Sold for scrap


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 (1 April 2020), USS Meade (DD-274)/ HMS Ramsey ,

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