Ralph Earle, born 3 May 1874 at Worcester, Mass., graduated from the Naval Academy in 1896. He served at sea in several ships, among them Massachusetts (BB-2), Essex, and Hornet. While on board Missouri (BB-11), he won commendations from the President and Secretary of the Navy for his conduct at the time of a disastrous turret explosion. He commanded Dolphin (PG-24) at the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and later commanded Connecticut (BB-18).
Ashore, Earle had duty at the Naval Academy and the Naval Proving Ground. An expert on guns and explosives, he was made Chief of the Bureau of Ordnance shortly before the United States entered World War I. Under his administration the North Sea mine barrage was conceived and executed using a new type of mine, and the plan of mounting naval 14-inch guns on railway cars for use as long-range artillery on the Western Front, was evolved and carried out. After his retirement in 1927, Rear Admiral Earle served as president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute until his death, 13 February 1939.
(DD-635: dp. 1,630; l. 348'1"; b. 37'; dr. 17'5"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 261; a. 4 5", 5 21" tt.; cl. Benson)
Earle (DD-635) was launched 10 December 1941 by Boston Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. John F. Hines, Jr., daughter of Rear Admiral Earle; and commissioned 1 September 1942, Lieutenant Commander H. W. Howe in command.
Between 12 December 1942 and 28 April 1943, Earle escorted three convoys carrying essential men and supplies to Casablanca. On her first voyage, she made two night attacks on surfaced submarines. Sailing from Norfolk 8 June she arrived at Oran on the 22d to prepare for the invasion of Sicily, and screened the transport area off Scoglitti 10 July. Two days later she carried on an inspection of the beach area, then served on escort duty between north Africa ports and Sicily until 11 August when she got underway for New York, arriving the 22d.
From 6 December 1943 to 1 May 1944, Earle escorted convoys between Boston and New York and the United Kingdom, making four such voyages. She crossed to Naples, arriving 31 May for a summer of general escort duty and training in the Mediterranean between 19 November 1944 and 11 June 1945.
Earle arrived at Norfolk 20 June 1945 for conversion to a destroyer minesweeper, and was reclassified DMS-42, 23 June 1945. Ordered to the Pacific at the war's end, she left Norfolk 27 August and called at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Eniwetok before arriving at Okinawa 15 October. She served in the Far East on occupation duty until 18 March 1946, sweeping minefields off Korea, later in a team directing Japanese minesweepers in their home waters. Arriving at San Francisco 9 April, Earle was placed out of commission in reserve 17 May 1947. Her classification reverted to DD-635, 15 July 1955.
Earle received two battle stars for World War II service.