Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, born at Rocky Point, South Kingston, R.I., 20 August 1785, was appointed Midshipman 7 April 1799 and served in revenue cutter General Green during the Naval War with France. He fought in frigates Adams and Constellation during the Barbary Wars. In the War of 1812, Perry constructed and commanded a fleet of American warships on Lake Erie. When his flagship Lawrence was shattered and sinking in the Battle of Lake Erie, Perry fired her last effective gun, took his battle flag, and rowed across shot-splashed waters to Niagara where he fought on to victory, and reported, “We have met the enemy and they are ours...” The victory gave the United States control of Lake Erie and enabled Perry and General Harrison to take a large part of Canadian territory which helped American Commissioners at Ghent to negotiate a treaty favorable to the United States. When peace was restored, Perry commanded frigate Java in the Mediterranean. In May 1819 he went to Venezuela to seek help in protecting American ships off the northern coast of South America, waters then plagued by pirates. After sailing to the Spanish Main in John Adams, he ascended the Orinoco River in Nonsuch. At Angostura, Perry succeeded in negotiating a favorable treaty, but contracted fever and died 23 August 1819.
(DD–11: dp. 480 (n.); l. 250’6”; b. 23’8”; dr. 7’3”; s. 29 k.; cpl. 73; a. 2 3”, 5 6-pdrs., 2 18” tt.; cl. Bainbridge)
The second Perry (DD–11) was laid down 19 April 1899 by Union Iron Works, San Francisco; launched 27 October 1900; sponsored by Miss Maude O’Connor; and commissioned 4 September 1902, Lt. Theodore C. Fenton in command.
Perry was assigned to the Pacific Torpedo Flotilla and based at Mare Island until the United States entered World War I. Her operations took her as far north as Alaska and south along the coast of Mexico; and in the fall of 1908, combined fleet maneuvers took tier to Hawaii.
Perhaps the highlight of the torpedo boat destroyer’s career came during the earthquake which struck San Francisco 18 April 1906 and the resulting fire which devastated the city. For four sleepless days after they were awakened by severe rolling and pitching of their ship before dawn on IS April, the indefatigable crew labored to save the western metropolis by fighting fires ; patrolling districts where stores, warehouses, and homes were threatened by looters; and providing medical aid to countless injured men, women, and children.
When the United States entered World War I, Perry patrolled off the California Coast until steaming to Panama where, beginning 28 July 1917, she guarded the entrance to the vital canal. On 30 May 1918, she sailed for Key West for patrol duty in the Florida Keys. After the Armistice, she got under way for the Delaware Bay, 29 January 1919, and remained at the Philadelphia Navy Yard until decommissioning 2 July. Perry’s name was struck from the Navy List 15 September 1919, and she was sold for scrapping 5 January 1920.