Captain David Ross, formerly a lieutenant in the Continental Navy, commanded the American private armed ship Belvedere (14 guns) at the end of the 18th century. While en route to London, on 23 December 1799, his ship was caught in a hurricane. Provisions, seven guns, and a quantity of shot were thrown overboard to lighten ship. Nineteen days later, on 12 January 1800, she was overtaken by a French brig, whose captain demanded that the American haul down her flag. Ross's answer was a broadside. A 2-hour engagement, within pistol shot, followed; and after the Frenchman had sheered off, Belvedere, with damage to her rigging, sails, and hull, continued on.
(DD - 563: displacement 2,050; length 376’6”; beam 39’8”; draft 17’9”; speed 37 knots; complement 314; armament 5 5”, 10 40mm., 7 20mm., 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks, 10 21” torpedo tubes; class Fletcher)
Ross (DD-563) was laid down 7 September 1942 by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle, Wash.; launched 10 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. William J. Malone; and commissioned 21 February 1944, Comdr. Benjamin Coe in command.
Ross completed shakedown off California in early May 1944, and on the 5th she sailed for Pearl Harbor. On the 29th she sortied with TF 52 for Eniwetok, whence the fleet sailed for Saipan and the beginning of the Marianas campaign.
Attached to the carrier support group, Ross arrived on station in the operating area to the east of Saipan on 14 June. Through the landings on the 15th, and until the 19th, she remained in that area providing screening and plane guard services for the carriers. On the 19th, she headed east with Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) to rendezvous with replacement aircraft from Eniwetok. On the 25th, the two ships rejoined the Saipan support force. Ross remained in the vicinity of Saipan and Tinian well into July, interrupting duty there only at the beginning of the month to escort another replacement aircraft run.
On 1 August, the destroyer returned to Eniwetok, then headed for the Solomons to rehearse the Palau operation. On 6 September she departed Purvis Bay in TG 32.5, the Western Fire Support Group. Off Peleliu by dawn on 12 September, Ross screened the heavier ships as they began bombarding the proposed landing beaches. On the morning of the 13th, she closed White and Orange beaches to provide fire support for the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) clearing the approaches of obstacles and through that day and the next she alternated between that mission and screening duty. On the night of 14-15 September, she shelled Ngesebus Island and conducted patrols to intercept enemy boat traffic. Then, prior to the 0830 landings, she fired on enemy observation posts in the assault area. After the troops hit the beaches, she shifted to call fire support and until the 20th rotated that duty with night patrols and picket duty.
On the 20th, Ross headed for Ulithi. Arriving the next day, she covered UDT operations on Asor, Fallalop [sic; Falalop], and Soclen [sic; Sorlen]. On the 23d, she covered the landings on Fallalop [sic; Falalop] and on the 24th she got underway to return to Peleliu.
En route Ross stopped in Kossol Roads to embark Maj. Gen. Julian Smith, USMC, and his staff, whom she transported to Peleliu. Arriving on the 26th, she provided harassing fire, call fire, and illumination until the 29th, when she sailed for Manus to prepare for her last amphibious operation, Leyte Gulf.
On 12 October, Ross departed the Admiralties. Five days later she arrived off Dinagat Island. On the morning of the 18th, she covered landings there, on Black Beach 2, then joined TU 77.2.6 to provide cover for that minesweeping and hydrography unit. Her duty, however, ended abruptly less than 15 hours later.
At 0133 on the 19th, she struck a mine to port under the forward engineroom and fireroom; and began to list to port. At 0155 she struck a second mine in the vicinity of the after engineroom. The list increased to 14°.
Chickasaw (ATF-83) and Preserver (ARS-8) closed to render assistance.
Soon after 0210, Ross jettisoned six torpedoes, all port depth charges, and miscellaneous gear. Topside movable weights were shifted to starboard. The list began to decrease. At 0315, her medical officer, the seriously injured, and the ship's funds were transferred to Chickasaw. At 0343, she was taken in tow by the ATF and 4 hours later anchored off Montoconan Island.
Casualties from the mine explosions were three killed, 20 missing, nine injured. At 1204 the anchorage was attacked by Japanese planes. Shrapnel injured two more from Ross' crew.
In the afternoon, the destroyer was towed to an anchorage south of Mariquitdaquit Island. At dawn on the 20th, that anchorage was attacked.
Salvage work on Ross began. Air attacks caused frequent interruptions, but the work continued. On 23 November, she was shifted to the Northern Transport Area anchorage and on the 24th, she was towed into San Pedro Bay and docked in ARD-19. The frequent air raids continued, and on the 28th, Ross sustained further damage. A "Tojo" crashed into the ARD, passed through the starboard wingwall, and caused gasoline fed flames to encompass the dock basin deck. As firefighters went to work, another Japanese fighter began a strafing run, but was splashed by gunfire from Ross, the ARD and LST-556.
Repairs to Ross were delayed as the ARD's crew repaired the drydock, but on 13 December the destroyer was underway under tow, for Humboldt Bay. There, further repairs were made and her journey was continued. On 2 March 1945 she reached Mare Island.
Repairs complete, Ross moved down to San Diego at the end of June and in July she steamed for Pearl Harbor en route back to the Western Carolines. She arrived at Ulithi on 14 August, the day hostilities ended.
From 24 August to 4 September, Ross was on air-sea rescue duty as occupation troops were moved by air from Okinawa to Tokyo. On the 5th, she entered Tokyo Bay and into October remained on occupation duty.
Ross departed Japan for the United States on 21 October. On 9 November, she reported for inactivation at Seattle, and with the new year, 1946, she shifted to San Diego where she was decommissioned on 4 June.
For the next 5 years Ross remained berthed with the Reserve Fleet at San Diego. In the summer of 1951 she was activated and on 27 October she was recommissioned. Into March 1952 she operated off southern California. On the 12th, she departed San Diego for the U.S. east coast, arriving at her new homeport, Norfolk, on the 29th. During the spring she operated in the Gulf of Mexico. Local operations occupied the summer; and, with the fall, she moved to Philadelphia for overhaul. In February 1953, she again steamed south, operated in the Caribbean into April, then returned to Norfolk to prepare for a summer cruise to Scotland and Norway. In August she was back in the Caribbean, and in September she returned to Norfolk. Further operations off the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean followed, then in the spring of 1954 she began a cruise around the world.
Departing Norfolk 20 April, Ross transited the Panama Canal and crossed the Pacific. Arriving at Yokosuka on 28 May, she served with the 7th Fleet until the end of August, ranging from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. From 24 to 29 July she participated in operations off Indochina as residents of North Vietnam were allowed to move to South Vietnam.
On 31 August, Ross departed Sasebo. Then, steaming via Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, and the Suez Canal, she crossed the Mediterranean, and entered the Atlantic. On 28 October she reached Norfolk.
Coastal and Caribbean operations were resumed in May 1955, following an overhaul. In November, she headed east and, for the next 2½ months, operated with the 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. Returning to Norfolk on 26 February 1956, she conducted local operations through the spring, then repeated her 1953 schedule - a northern European cruise followed by exercises in the Caribbean.
In 1957, the destroyer again deployed to the Mediterranean. Departing the east coast in late October, she arrived at Gibraltar at the end of the month and continued on. On 8 November she transited the Suez Canal and until mid-December operated in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, Indian Ocean area. She then retransited the Canal, and remained with the 6th Fleet until 16 February 1958.
Ross returned to Norfolk 5 March. During the summer, she conducted her last summer cruise to Northern Europe. Into the summer of 1959 she remained on the east coast. In July she operated in the Key West-Guantanamo Bay area and in August she departed Norfolk for Beaumont, Tex., and inactivation.
In reserve from 10 August, Ross was decommissioned on 6 November 1959. Struck from the navy list on 1 December 1974, the destroyer was sunk as a target on 11 February 1978.
Ross (DD-563) earned five battle stars during World War II.
21 October 2005