Ralph Earle, born 3 May 1874 at Worcester, Mass., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1896. He served at sea in several ships, among them Massachusetts (Battleship No. 2), Essex, and Hornet. While on board Missouri (Battleship No. 11), he received commendations from the President and Secretary of the Navy for his conduct at the time of a disastrous turret explosion. He commanded the dispatch boat Dolphin at the occupation of Vera Cruz, Mexico, and later commanded Connecticut (Battleship No. 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 Adm. Earle served as president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute until his death on 13 February 1939.
(DD-635: displacement1,630; length 348'1"; beam 37'; draft 17'5"; speed 35 knots; complement 261; armament 4 5-inch, 6 .50-caliber machine guns, 2 depth charge tracks, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Benson)
Earle (DD-635) was laid down on 14 June 1941 at Boston, Mass., by the Boston Navy Yard; launched on 10 December 1941; sponsored by Mrs. John F. Hines, Jr., daughter of Rear Admiral Earle; and commissioned on 1 September 1942, Lt. Cmdr. Hamilton 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 22nd to prepare for the invasion of Sicily, and screened the transport area off Scoglitti on 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 on the 22nd.
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 on 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 high speed minesweeper, and was reclassified DMS-42 on 23 June 1945. Ordered to the Pacific at the war's end, she left Norfolk on 27 August and called at San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Eniwetok before arriving at Okinawa on 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 on 9 April 1946, Earle was placed out of commission in reserve on 17 May 1947. Her classification reverted to DD-635 on 15 July 1955.
Stricken from the Naval Vessel Register on 1 December 1969, ex-Earle was sold to NAASCO, Terminal Island, Calif., on 19 October 1970 and broken up for scrap.
Earle received two battle stars for her World War II service.
Updated, Robert J,. C rtessman
3 March 2022