Worth G. Ross
|Worth G. Ross|
Captain Worth G. Ross, USRCS
|Born||19 April 1854|
|Died||24 March 1916
New Bedford, Massachusetts
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch|| United States Coast Guard
Revenue Cutter Service (then)
|Years of service||1877–1911|
|Commands held||Captain-Commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service|
|Battles/wars||Battle of Santiago de Cuba, Spanish American War|
Worth G. Ross (19 April 1854 – 24 March 1916) is known as the third Commandant of the Coast Guard, although he was never formally appointed to that position. Joining the Revenue Cutter Service (known today as the United States Coast Guard) in 1877, he graduated from the Revenue Cutter Service School of Instruction's first class in 1879. He held a variety of appointments during the late 19th century before being appointed Captain-Commandant of the service in 1905. In this capacity he commanded a number of cutters on the United States Gulf Coast and was responsible for moving the School of Instruction to Fort Trumbull, Connecticut.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Ross was appointed as a cadet to the Revenue Cutter Service School of Instruction on 4 January 1877 after successfully completing an entrance examination. He was among ten candidates out of nineteen to pass the required examination and was one of eight cadets that were told to report aboard the USRC Dobbin at Baltimore, Maryland. Dobbin left on a summer training cruise on 24 May and Ross was detached from the cutter awaiting orders on 13 July because of a rules infraction. A week later, Ross was reprimanded for "licentious and scandalous conduct" by Captain John Henriques, head of the school. Records do not specify what his offense was, although Ross apparently arrived in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 15 October with the rest of the class to start cadet academic training. After the first year, he received the most demerits in his class and came very close to being expelled. The school conducted a two year course at the time and Ross graduated on 2 July 1879, after which he was commissioned as a third lieutenant. In 1905, he became the first School of Instruction graduate to become the Captain-Commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service.
His promotion to third lieutenant was made permanent on 28 January 1880 and he was promoted to second lieutenant on 20 October 1884. After he was promoted to first lieutenant on 18 January 1896, he served on the USRC Grant, which was then serving on the Bering Sea Patrol.[Note 2]
Ross was serving as executive officer aboard the USRC Levi Woodbury when the Spanish-American War was declared in April 1898, but he was soon transferred to the USS Harvard, a converted passenger liner, formerly known as City of New York, that the U.S. Navy used as a supply carrier and troopship. Harvard arrived at Santiago de Cuba and rescued over 600 survivors of the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on 3 July 1898. As a crewmember, Ross received a bronze medal from Congress for his actions that day.
On 3 June 1902, Ross was promoted to captain. He was also the plank-owning captain of the USRC Mohawk, a 205-foot (62 m) steel-hulled "First Class Cruising Cutter," that was commissioned at Arundel Cove, Maryland, on 10 May 1904.
On 25 April 1905, Ross was appointed as the Captain-Commandant of the Revenue Cutter Service by Secretary of the Treasury, L. M. Shaw. [Note 3] Soon after his appointment, Ross was directed by Secretary Shaw to take personal charge of six Revenue Service cutters that were being used to quarantine vessels arriving at the ports along the Gulf Coast from the threat of a yellow fever epidemic and defuse tensions caused by the disruption of shipping schedules. Ross established a temporary headquarters at Gulfport, Mississippi, and established patrols for the six cutters and seven chartered vessels under his command, and remained on-scene until 23 October when the crisis had passed.
Despite his School of Instruction experience, Ross later used his position as commandant to procure funding for a permanent home for the Revenue Cutter Service School of Instruction. After USRC Salmon P. Chase was decommissioned, Ross moved the school to Curtis Bay, Maryland, and after the facilities there proved to be too small, to Fort Trumbull, Connecticut, an abandoned U.S. Army fort located one mile (1.6 km) away from the Academy's current home in New London, Connecticut.
Ross retired from active service at his own request because of ill health on 30 April 1911 and was succeeded as commandant by Captain Ellsworth P. Bertholf. He died at his home in New Bedford, Massachusetts, on 24 March 1916.
- The rank Captain-Commandant was both a title and a rank in the Revenue Cutter Service and was authorized by Congress in 1908. Captain-Commandant was equivalent to a U.S. Navy captain. The next lower RCS rank was senior captain which was equivalent to a Navy commander. RCS captains were equivalent to Navy lieutenant commanders.
- References used in this biography do not account for the RCS career of Ross from the time he graduated from the School of Instruction until he reported aboard USRC Grant, a span of over 16 years.
- King states that Ross was promoted effective 1 April 1905.
- "Worth G. Ross, 1905–1911" Commandants of the U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
- Johnson, p 17
- Noble, p 62
- King, pp 157–158
- Strobridge and Noble, p 164
- Harvard, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS), Naval History and Heritage Command, U.S. Navy
- "Mohawk, 1904",Cutters, Craft & U.S. Coast Guard-Manned Army & Navy Vessels, U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office
- King, p 131
- King, pp 131–132
- Johnson, p 18
- References cited
- "Worth G. Ross, 1905–1911" (asp). Commandants of the U.S. Coast Guard. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 17 September 2013.
- "Harvard" (htm). Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS). Naval History and Heritage Command, U.S. Navy. Retrieved 23 September 2013.
- "Mohawk, 1904" (pdf). Cutters, Craft & U.S. Coast Guard-Manned Army & Navy Vessels. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 25 September 2013.
- Johnson, Robert Irwin (1987). Guardians of the Sea, History of the United States Coast Guard, 1915 to the Present. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-0-87021-720-3.
- King, Irving H. (1996). The Coast Guard Expands, 1865–1915: New Roles, New Frontiers. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-55750-458-6.
- Kroll, C. Douglas (2002). Commodore Ellsworth P. Bertholf: First Commandant of the Coast Guard. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-55750-474-6.
- Noble, Dennis L. "Historical Register U.S. Revenue Cutter Service Officers, 1790–1914" (pdf). Coast Guard Personnel. U.S. Coast Guard Historian's Office. Retrieved 24 September 2013.
- Strobridge, Truman R. and Dennis L. Noble (1999). Alaska and the U.S. Revenue Cutter Service, 1867–1915. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland. ISBN 978-1-55750-845-4.
Charles F. Shoemaker
|Commandant of the Coast Guard
Ellsworth P. Bertholf