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Ross I (DD-563)


David Ross. Captain Ross commanded Belvedere, a 14 gun private armed ship sailing out of Philadelphia, Pa., at the turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. During the Quasi-War against the French on 12 January 1800, Belvedere sighted a brig and quickly overtook her, Ross beating to quarters and clearing for action. The enemy proved to be a French brig of 18 guns and 150 men. The French demanded that the Americans haul down their colors, but Ross unleashed a broadside that raked the French ship fore and aft. The ships fought for two hours, often within pistol shot, until the French brig sheered off. Belvedere suffered damage to her rigging, sails, and hull, but also survived.

(DD-563: displacement 2,050; length 376'6"; beam 39'8"; draft 17'9"; speed 37 knots; complement 314; armament 5 5-inch, 10 40 millimeter, 7 20 millimeter, 6 depth charge projectors, 2 depth charge tracks, 10 21-inch torpedo tubes; class Fletcher)

Ross (DD-563) was laid down on 7 September 1942 by the Seattle-Tacoma Shipbuilding Corp., Seattle, Wash.; launched on 10 September 1943; sponsored by Mrs. William J. Malone; and commissioned on 21 February 1944, Comdr. Benjamin Coe in command.

Ross completed her shakedown off California in early May 1944, and on 5 May sailed for Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Islands. On 29 May she sortied with Task Force (TF) 52 for Eniwetok, whence the fleet sailed for Saipan and during Operation Forager: 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 19 June she remained in that area providing screening and plane guard services for the carriers. The destroyer then came about and headed east with escort aircraft carrier Kalinin Bay (CVE-68) to rendezvous with replacement aircraft from Eniwetok. On 25 June, 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 Solomon Islands to rehearse Operation Stalemate II: the landing of the 1st Marine Division on Peleliu. 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 following morning, 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 20 September rotated that duty with night patrols and picket duty.

Ross then came about and headed for Ulithi. Arriving the next day, she covered UDT operations on Asor, Fallalop [sic; Falalop], and Soclen [sic; Sorlen]. On 23 September, she covered the landings on Fallalop [sic; Falalop] and on the next day got underway to return to Peleliu. En route Ross stopped in Kossol Roads to embark Maj. Gen. Julian C. Smith, USMC, and his staff, whom she transported to Peleliu. Arriving on 26 September, she provided harassing fire, call fire, and illumination for three days, when she sailed for Manus to prepare for her last amphibious operation, Leyte Gulf.

On 12 October 1944, Ross departed the Admiralties. Five days later she arrived off Dinagat Island. On the morning of 18 October, she covered landings on Black Beach 2, then joined Task Unit (TU) 77.2.6 to provide cover for that minesweepers and hydrographers. Her duty, however, ended abruptly less than 15 hours later.

At 0133 on 19 October 1944, 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°. Fleet ocean tug Chickasaw (ATF-83) and salvage ship Preserver (ARS-8) closed to render assistance.

Soon after 0210, Ross jettisoned six torpedoes, all port depth charges, and miscellaneous gear. Sailors shifted topside movable weights to starboard. The list began to decrease. At 0315, her medical officer, the seriously injured, and the ship’s funds transferred to Chickasaw. At 0343, the tug took Ross in tow, and four hours later they anchored off Montoconan Island. The mines killed three men, and the ship reported 20 more missing and nine wounded. At 1204 Japanese planes attacked the anchorage, and fragments wounded two more from Ross' crew. In the afternoon, the destroyer was towed to an anchorage south of Mariquitdaquit Island. The enemy attacked the anchorage again at dawn on 20 October.

Air attacks caused frequent interruptions in salvaging Ross, but the work continued. On 23 November, she was shifted to the Northern Transport Area anchorage and the following day, towed into San Pedro Bay and docked in auxiliary repair dock (non-self-propelled) ARD-19. The frequent air raids continued, and on 28 November, Ross sustained further damage. A Nakajima Ki-44 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 gunfire from Ross, the dock, and LST-556 splashed the attacker.

Repairing the damage to the dock delayed the work on Ross, but on 13 December 1944, the destroyer was under tow for Humboldt Bay, Calif. There, she completed further repairs and continued her journey, reaching Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 March 1945. Her repairs complete, Ross moved down to San Diego at the end of June, and in July steamed for Pearl Harbor en route to the Western Carolines. She arrived at Ulithi on 14 August, the day hostilities ended.

From 24 August to 4 September 1945, Ross performed air-sea rescue duty as planes flew occupation troops from Okinawa in the Ryūkyū Islands to the Japanese home islands. On 5 September, she entered Tōkyō Bay and into October remained on occupation duty.

Ross sailed from Japan on 21 October, reporting for inactivation at Seattle, Wash., on 9 November, and with the New Year, she shifted to San Diego, where she was decommissioned on 4 June 1946.

For the next five years Ross remained berthed with the Reserve Fleet at San Diego. In the summer of 1951 she was activated and on 27 October recommissioned. Into March 1952, she operated off southern California. On 12 March, she departed San Diego for the U.S. east coast, arriving at her new homeport of Norfolk, Va., on 29 March. During the spring she operated in the Gulf of Mexico. Local operations occupied the summer; and, with the fall, she moved to Philadelphia, Pa., 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 operated in the Caribbean, and returning the following month to Norfolk. Further operations off the Atlantic seaboard and in the Caribbean followed, and then in the spring of 1954 she began a cruise around the world.

Sailing from Norfolk on 20 April, Ross transited the Panama Canal and crossed the Pacific. Arriving at Yokosuka, Japan, on 28 May, she served with the Seventh Fleet until the end of August, her operations ranging from the Sea of Japan to the South China Sea. From 24 to 29 July she participated in operations off Indochina as people evacuated from North Vietnam and resettled in South Vietnam.

On 31 August, Ross departed Sasebo. Then, steaming via Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Ceylon (Sri Lanka), and the Suez Canal, she crossed the Mediterranean and entered the Atlantic, returning to Norfolk on 28 October.

Following an overhaul, Ross resumed coastal and Caribbean operations in May 1955. In November, she steamed east and, for the next two months, operated with the Sixth 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 Sixth Fleet. Departing the east coast in late October, she arrived at Gibraltar at the end of the month and continued on into the Mediterranean. On 8 November she passed southward through the Suez Canal and until mid-December operated in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf, and Indian Ocean. She then returned northward through the canal, and remained with the Sixth Fleet until 16 February 1958. Ross returned to Norfolk on 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 area of Key West, Fla., and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in August departed Norfolk for Beaumont, Texas, and inactivation.

In reserve from 10 August, Ross was decommissioned on 6 November 1959. Stricken from the Navy list on 1 December 1974, she was sunk as a target on 11 February 1978.

Ross (DD-563) earned five battle stars during World War II.

Updated and expanded by Mark L. Evans

8 July 2015

Published: Mon Aug 31 12:49:47 EDT 2015