John Dorsey, a native of Maryland, was appointed midshipman 28 April 1801. He was killed 7 August 1804 in the attack on Tripoli in north Africa when Gunboat No.9 was blown up by an enemy shell.
(DD-117: dp. 1,090; l. 314'5"; b. 31'8"; dr. 8'8"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 100; a. 4 4", 2 3", 12 21" tt.; cl. Rathburne)
Dorsey (DD-117) was launched 9 April 1918 by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa.; sponsored by Mrs. A. Means, distant relative of Midshipman Dorsey; and commissioned 16 September 1918, Commander G. F. Neal in command.
Dorsey sailed with a merchant convoy from Philadelphia 20 September 1918, escorted it to Ireland, and returned to New York 19 October. Between 28 October and 20 November, she voyaged on escort duty to the Azores, then operated locally out of New York until 13 January 1919 when she got underway for target practice and fleet maneuvers in Cuban waters, returning 2 March. Three days later she sailed to escort George Washington with President Woodrow Wilson embarked as far as the Azores, returning to Guantanamo Bay 21 March to join the Fleet for maneuvers.
Dorsey sailed from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 9 April 1919, and arrived at Valetta, Malta, 26 April to report to Commander, Adriatic Squadron, for duty in the execution of the terms of the armistice with Austria. She served in the Mediterranean until 9 July when she proceeded to New York arriving on the 21st.
Dorsey sailed from New York with her division 17 September 1919 for the west coast, arriving at San Diego 12 October. She joined in fleet maneuvers in the Canal Zone and operated with seaplanes at Valparaiso, Chile, until clearing San Diego 25 June 1921 to join the Asiatic Fleet.
Dorsey arrived at Cavite, Philippine Islands, 24 August 1921, and served in experimental submarine practice and long-range battle and torpedo practice. On 3 June 1922 she sailed from Manila to call at Shanghai and Chefoo, China, Nagasaki, Japan, and Pearl Harbor on her passage to San Francisco where she arrived 2 October. She was placed out of commission at San Diego 9 March 1923.
Recommissioned 1 March 1930 Dorsey operated on the west coast, in the Canal Zone, and in the Hawaiian Islands acting as plane guard for carriers and participating in tactical maneuvers with the fleet. In reserve from 10 to 29 June 1935, she then entered Mare Island Navy Yard for the installation of gear for her new assignment as a high-speed towing vessel.
Dorsey continued to operate from San Diego providing high-speed target towing for ships in training along the west coast, in the Canal Zone, and, between 29 December 1938 and 25 April 1939, in the Caribbean. From 3 July 1940 she was based at Pearl Harbor. She entered Pearl Harbor Navy Yard 6 November for conversion to a high-speed minesweeper and was reclassified DMS-1 on 19 November 1940.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor 7 December 1941, Dorsey was at sea with TF 3 bound for Johnson Island. The force returned to its base on the 9th, and Dorsey was assigned to the Hawaiian Sea Frontier for patrol, local escort, and training duty. Except for overhaul at San Francisco from 1 January to 11 February 1943, she remained on this duty until 24 September 1943.
After scouting convoys to Efate, New Hebrides, and Noumea, New Caledonia, Dorsey sailed to the Solomon Islands for patrol and minesweeping operations. She swept and patrolled off Cape Torokina, Bougainville, and screened transports during the landings of 1 November, returning on 8 and 13 November with reinforcement and supply convoys. She escorted from her base at Port Purvis to Neoumea until 29 March 1944, then screened transports between Port Purvis, Kwajalein, Manus, and New Georgia until arriving at Majuro 12 May for duty towing targets at high speed for ships in training. From 20 June to 9 July she guarded convoys between Kwajalein and Eniwetok, then escorted Makin Island (CVE-93) to Pearl Harbor, and proceeded to San Francisco for overhaul.
Returning to Pearl Harbor 1 October 1944 Dorsey had towing duty and joined in minesweeping experiments until 9 November when she got underway as convoy escort for Port Purvis. On 1 December she arrived at Manus for minesweeping operations until 23 December. Continuing to San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Dorsey sortied on 2 January 1945 for the invasion of Lingayen Gulf. During the preinvasion minesweeping she accounted for several attacking planes and rescued five survivors from stricken LCI(G)-70.
Dorsey arrived off Iwo Jima for preinvasion mine-sweeping 16 February 1945. She patrolled during the assault landings, and towed bomb-damaged Gamble (DM-15) to safety 18 February. She sailed from Iwo Jima 1 March for Ulithi to prepare for the invasion of Okinawa, where she arrived 25 March to sweep mines. On the 27th she was struck a glancing blow by a suicide plane which killed three of her crew and wounded two. Dorsey remained on duty, screening assault shipping during the landings of 1 April and patrolling until the 4th when she departed for Pearl Harbor and battle damage repairs.
Returning to Okinawa 1 July 1945 Dorsey joined the minesweeping unit operating in conjunction with the 3d Fleet raids on the Japanese home islands. She sailed on 14 September for minesweeping operations in the Van Diemen Straits, returning to Okinawa five days later. On 9 October she was grounded by a severe typhoon. Decommissioned 8 December 1945, her battered hulk was destroyed 1 January 1946.
Dorsey received six battle stars for World War II service.