Francis Munroe Ramsay, born in the District of Columbia 5 April 1835, was appointed Midshipman 5 October 1850. After training in Preble and in St. Lawrence, he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1856. He subsequently served in Falmouth with the Brazil Squadron; in Merrimac on the Pacific Station; on ordnance duty at the Washington Navy Yard; and in Saratoga on the African Station. On 23 March 1863, he assumed command of Choctaw, for duty in the Mississippi Squadron. In that gunboat, he participated in Yazoo River operations during April and May. Then on 7 June, he supported a Union garrison at Milliken's Bend, La., in holding off some 4,000 Confederate troops. Moving on to Vicksburg, he commanded a battery of heavy guns mounted on scows in exposed positions before the city, 19 June-4 July. After the capture of the river stronghold, he was given command of the 3d Division, Mississippi Squadron. During February and March 1864, he led expeditions up the Black and Ouachita Rivers and from mid-March to early May participated in Rear Admiral Porter's expedition up the Red River. On 28 September, he was transferred to the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron in command of Unadilla. He participated in amphibious assaults on Fort Fisher 24 December 1864 and on 13 January 1865, and in subsequent attacks against Fort Anderson and other forts along the Cape Fear River. In April, he assisted in removing torpedoes (mines) from the James River and was present at the capture of Richmond.
After the Civil War, Ramsay served in many and varied positions afloat - as Fleet Captain, South Atlantic Squadron and as commanding officer of Guerriere, Ossipee, Lancaster, and Trenton. Ashore, he served at the Naval Academy, at Newport, in London as naval attachι, and at Boston and New York as commandant of the Navy Yards. In 1889 he became Chief of the Bureau of Navigation and remained in that post until his retirement 5 April 1897. He was promoted to rear admiral on 5 April 1894, and died in Washington, D.C., 19 July 1914.
(Destroyer No. 124: displacement 1,060; length 3145; beam 31; draft 103; speed 33.5 knots; complement 133; armament 4 4, 2 3, 12 21 torpedo tubes; class Wickes)
Ramsay (Destroyer No. 124) was laid down 21 December 1917 by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co., Newport News, Va.; launched 8 June 1918; sponsored by Miss Mary Virginia Ramsay, granddaughter of Rear Admiral Ramsay; and commissioned 15 February 1919, Comdr. H. H. Norton in command.
Assigned to Division 12, Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, Ramsay completed shakedown off Cuba in March, participated in fleet maneuvers 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.
Ramsay arrived at San Diego 7 August and, after overhaul at Mare Island, commenced 2 years of operations with Destroyer Force, Pacific. On 17 July 1920 she was designated DD-124. In the spring of 1922, she prepared for inactivation and, on 30 June 1922, she was decommissioned and berthed at San Diego as a unit of the Reserve Fleet. Recommissioned 8 years later, 2 June 1930, she was reclassified as a light minelayer, redesignated DM-16 on 13 June, and homeported at Pearl Harbor. Converted at the Navy Yard there, she operated with Minecraft, Battle Force, primarily in the Hawaiian area until 1937 when she returned to San Diego for her second inactivation and decommissioned 14 December 1937. Recommissioned 25 September 1939, she joined MinDiv 5, Minecraft, Battle Force, and for the next year conducted patrols engaged in gunnery drills and landing exercises, and trained naval reservists along the Pacific coast.
On 10 December 1940, Ramsay returned to Pearl Harbor and, throughout the next year, operated with Mine Divisions 5 and 2. Moored at Pearl Harbor on the morning of 7 December 1941, she fired her guns in combat for the first time at carrier-based planes delivering Japan's declaration of war on the United States.
Underway from the harbor before 0900, for offshore patrol, Ramsay made sound contact with a submarine at 1120; released 10 depth charges; then watched an oil slick spread over the attack area. She had damaged, and possibly had sunk one of the midget submarines used by the Japanese in the attack. Eight days later, while escorting a merchant ship off Kauai, she made her second contact. During two runs over the enemy, she dropped her depth charges and again was rewarded by the appearance of an oil slick on the surface indicating damage to her quarry.
Into February 1942, Ramsay continued patrol escort services in the Hawaiian area. On the 22d, she got underway with TF 19 for Samoa. Arriving Pago Pago 4 March, she planted defensive minefields off Tutuila and Apia, then shifted to Suva for mining activities amongst the Fiji Islands. On 3 May she steamed out of Suva for the New Hebrides and by 11 June had completed, with Montgomery (DM-17), the Efate defensive minefields. The next day, she cleared Vila harbor, and returned to Pearl Harbor on 3 July.
For the next 2 months she again performed escort and patrol assignments in the Hawaiian Islands. Then, on 14 September, she sailed for the Aleutians. Still with Montgomery, she arrived at Adak 22 September and 3 days later resumed mineplanting activities. In November she returned to California; underwent overhaul at Hunter's Point; and on 13 January 1943 arrived back in the Aleutians for 9 months of escort and patrol duty from Unalaska in the east to Attu in the west.
On 17 September Ramsay sailed south. Steaming via Pearl Harbor, she put into San Francisco 4 October for another overhaul. Out of the shipyard by 20 December, she sailed west on the 24th; she joined ServRon 6 at Pearl Harbor on 2 January 1944, and on the 21st headed for the Gilberts. After a brief stop at Tarawa, she rendezvoused with TG 50.15 on the 30th and screened Pensacola (CA-24) during the bombardment of Wotje that afternoon. The next day she guarded Chester (CA-27) during shelling; and, on 2 February, she arrived at Majuro, whence she conducted antisubmarine patrols until 14 March. An escort run to the Gilberts followed and on the 19th she got underway to return to Pearl Harbor. Arriving on the 27th, she was assigned convoy escort duty. Between then and mid-September, she shepherded ships to Majuro, San Francisco and Eniwetok. In October, she served with the Submarine Training Force and, in November, returned to the Marshalls for escort and training duty off Majuro.
With the new year, 1945, Ramsay headed east and during February again worked with the Submarine Training Force. At the end of the month, she sailed for San Pedro, where, after overhaul, she was designated a miscellaneous auxiliary and was reclassified AG-98, effective 5 June. On the 15th she once more got underway for Pearl Harbor and for the next 3 months served as plane guard for carriers training in Hawaiian waters. On 24 September, she arrived back at San Pedro to await her third, and final, inactivation. She was decommissioned 19 October 1945, struck from the Navy list 13 November 1945; and sold for scrapping 21 November 1946.
Ramsay (DM-16) earned three battle stars during World War II.
16 September 2005