USS Ramsay (DD-124/ DM-16)

USS Ramsay (DD-124/ DM-16) was a Wickes class destroyer that entered service too late for the First World War, but that served as a light minelayer and anti submarine patrol vessel during the Second World War.

The Ramsay was named after Francis Munroe Ramsay, a US naval officer during the American Civil War, who spent much of the war operating with the river fleets.

The Ramsay was laid down at Newport News on 21 December 1917, launched on 8 June 1918 and commissioned on 15 January 1919.

USS Ramsay (DD-124) making smoke
USS Ramsay (DD-124)
making smoke

She joined Division 12, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet in time for the fleet manoeuvres of April 1919. In May she moved to the Azores to act as one of the guide ships for the successful trans-Atlantic flight by the Navy Curtiss NC-4 flying boat. She then visited Portugal, before returning to the United States in early June. In July she prepared for a move to the Pacific, and on 7 August she reached San Diego, where she joined the Destroyer Force, Pacific. She served with this fleet until 1922, and on 30 June 1922 she was decommissioned into the Reserve Fleet.

Assigned to Division 12, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, Ramsay completed shakedown off Cuba in March, participated in fleet manoeuvres in early April, then sailed for New York. She got underway in May for the Azores to act as a guide and weather observer for the NC transatlantic flights. Steaming between the Azores and Portugal from 16 to 25 May, she returned to the United States 6 June. For the next month she conducted tactical exercises along the east coast and, on 6 July, put into Norfolk to prepare for transfer to the Pacific. She reached her new base at San Diego on 7 August, and spent the next two years operating with the Destroyer Force, Pacific. She was decommissioned on 30 June 1922.

The Ramsay was recommissioned as a light minelayer on 2 June and redesignated as DM-16. She joined Minecraft, Battle Force, based at Pearl Harbor, and operated around Hawaii for the next seven years. On 14 December 1937 she was decommissioned for the second time, at San Diego.

The Ramsay was recommissioned on 25 September 1939 and joined MinDiv 5, Minecraft, Battle Force, based on the Pacific Coast. In December 1940 she moved to Pearl Harbor, and she spent the next year operating with MinDiv 5 and MinDiv 2.

The Ramsay was moored on the outside of four destroyers at berth D-3 (along with the Breese (DM-18), Montgomery and Gamble) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. She opened fire with her AA guns at 0805, and got under way first of the group at 0855. On the way through the outer channel she fired at a Japanese aircraft that came within machine gun range and claimed to have shot it down. She then began to carry out anti-submarine patrols outside the harbour. She carried out two depth charge attacks on possible targets between 11.20 and 12.30, dropping ten depth charges in the first attack. Oil came up on both occasions, suggesting that she might have damaged one of the Japanese midget submarines.

The Ramsay continued to carry out patrols around Hawaii until late February 1942. On 15 December she made a second possible contact with a submarine and dropped depth charges. Once again oil appeared, but no victory was recorded.

On 22 February the Ramsay left Hawaii as part of Task Force 19, heading for Samoa. She reached Pago Pago on 4 March and was used to place minefields off Tutuila and Apia. She was escorted to Suva in the Fiji Islands by USS Walke (DD-416), arriving on 19 April. She spent the next two weeks on mine work in the Fiji Islands, before departing for the New Hebrides on 3 May.  Together with USS Montgomery (DM-17) she laid a defensive minefield around Efate. This task was completed by 11 June, and the Ramsay then returned to Pearl Harbor.

After two months of escort duties around Hawaii, Ramsay and Montgomery departed for the Aleutians on 14 September 1942. She reached Adak on 22 September, and on 25 September began to lay mines. She remained Aleutians until September 1943, apart from a visit to Hunter's Point, California in November 1942-January 1943. She spent most of her time on escort and patrol duties.

After another refit the Ramsay joined ServRon 6 and in January 1944 sailed for the Gilberts. She joined TG 50.15 on 30 January and screened the Pensacola (CA-24) as the cruiser bombarded Wotje. On 31 January she performed the same role for the Chester (CA-27). During February and the first half of March she carried out antisubmarine patrols off Majuro. She then escorted a convoy to the Gilberts, before returning to Pearl Harbor. From late March until mid-September she was used to escort convoys between Majuro, San Francisco, Eniwetok and Hawaii. In October she briefly served with the Submarine Training Force, and in November she moved back to Majuro for a mix of escort and training duties.

In February 1945 the Ramsay returned to the Submarine Training Force. At the end of February she moved to San Pedro, where she had another overhaul. On 5 June he was redesignated as miscellaneous auxiliary, as AG-98. She the returned to Pearl Harbor, where she spent three months serving as a plane guard helping aircraft carriers undergoing training in the area.

On 24 September she returned to San Pedro. On 19 October she was decommissioned for the final time. On 13 November she was struck off and on 21 November 1946 she was sold for scrap.

The Ramsay earned three battle stars during the Second World War, for Pearl Harbor, the Aleutians and the Marshall Islands.

Displacement (standard)

1,160t (design)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35kts (design)
35.34kts at 24,610shp at 1,149t on trial (Wickes)


2 shaft Parsons turbines
4 boilers
24,200shp (design)


3,800nm at 15kts on trial (Wickes)
2,850nm at 20kts on trial (Wickes)

Armour - belt


 - deck



314ft 4in


30ft 11in

Armaments (as built)

Four 4in/50 guns
Twelve 21in torpedoes in four triple tubes
Two depth charge tracks

Crew complement


Laid down

21 December 1917


8 June 1918


15 February 1919


19 October 1945

Sold for scrap

21 November 1946

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 (23 August 2017), USS Ramsay (DD-124/ DM-16) ,

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