Frederic Brewster Bassett, Jr., was born in New York, New York, on January 4, 1869. He was appointed Naval Cadet from the State of New York, and entered the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on May 19, 1884. Graduated with the Class of 1888, he served the two years at sea, then required by law, and at final graduation on July 1, 1890, was commissioned Ensign in the US Navy. He subsequently progressed in rank to Admiral from April 7, 1919, until February 1922. Retired in his permanent rank of Captain on January 4, 1925, he was advanced to Rear Admiral on the Retired List on June 21, 1930.
After graduation in June 1888, he was ordered to the USS Richmond, and in the rank of Ensign was transferred to the USS Ranger on September 30, 1890. In 1892-1893 he served in the USS Charleston, a protected cruiser assigned to the Pacific Station, and in 1894 was attached to the Coast Survey schooner Eagre. On October 1, 1894 he returned to the Naval Academy for duty on the Staff, and from July 1896 until August 1899 he was again at sea in the USS Marietta, a gunboat assigned to North Atlantic Station.
On September 25, 1899, he reported to the Bureau of Ordnance, Navy Department, Washington, DC, and from May 1, 1901, until July 1, 1905, he had successive service afloat in the Puritan, a double-turret monitor assigned to special service as a gunnery training ship; the gunboat Bancroft, a unit of the Caribbean Squadron; the protected cruiser Atlanta, of the Coast Squadron (1905-1906); the cruiser Denver of the Pacific Fleet (1908) and the battleship Rhode Island, of the Atlantic Fleet. On May 28, 1909, he reported for inspection duty in the Bureau of Equipment, Navy Department, and on September 14, 1910, was assigned duty with the USS Utah, having been promoted to the rank of Commander on July 1, that year.
At her commissioning on August 31, 1911, he joined that battleship of the Atlantic Fleet as Executive Officer, and served in that capacity for almost two years. On July 21, 1913, he returned to the Navy Department, for special duty, in charge of Naval Militia Affairs, Naval Reserves and Naval Districts. Promoted to Captain during that tour of duty, he was again ordered to the Utah at the outbreak of World War I in April 1917, this time as operated in Cuban waters, in the Chesapeake Bay Area, and with the Commander in Chief, Atlantic Fleet (Adm. Henry T. Mayo, USN), on board, steamed into Bantry Bay, Ireland, on September 11, 1918, to assist in the fortification of that harbor. She was there at the time of the Armistice on November 11, 1918, and later visited Portugal and England, and sailed for the French Coast to join the transport George Washington, which had President Woodrow Wilson on board.
Rear Admiral Bassett was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal “For exceptionally meritorious service in a duty of great responsibility in command of the USS Utah, operating in the war zone in association and co-operation with British Naval Forces.”
On April 7, 1919, in the rank of Rear Admiral, he assumed command of the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois, and while in that assignment until June 1920, also served as Commandant of the Ninth, Tenth and Eleventh Naval Districts. From July until December 1920 he served as Commander Destroyers in Reserve, based at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, then was designated Commander Flotilla FIVE, Atlantic Fleet, his flag in the USS Dixie, flagship and tender. In January 1922 he was ordered detached and to the Navy Department, where having reverted to his permanent rank of Captain, he served until July 1925 as Hydrographer of the Navy. He was transferred to the Retired List of the Navy on January 4, 1925, but remained on active duty throughout that year, serving the last five months as Chairman of the Advisory Committee of the Conference on Oceanography.
In addition to the Distinguished Service Medal, Rear Admiral Bassett had the Spanish Campaign Medal and the World War I Victory Medal, Grand Fleet Clasp.