Navy Author's Bio Pages


Rear Admiral Ralph Earle U.S.N. (dec.)

from "Naval History and Heritage Command"

03 May 1874 – 13 February 1939


Earle was born on 3 May 1874 in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1] He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1896.  He served at sea in several ships, among them USS Massachusetts, Essex, and Hornet.  While on board USS Missouri, he won commendations from the President and Secretary of the Navy for his conduct at the time of a disastrous turret explosion.  He commanded USS Dolphin during the Tampico Affair,[2] and at the U.S. occupation of Veracruz, Mexico, and later commanded Connecticut.  Ashore, Earle had duty at the U.S. 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 1925, Rear Admiral Earle served as president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute until his death.[3][4] Earle, well loved as WPI’s sixth president implemented a five-year plan which brought the students a swimming pool and a new hall named after R. Sanford Riley among other needed campus improvements. He also served as president of the Worcester Economic Club in 1931.[5]  He died of a stroke on 13 February 1939 in Worcester, Massachusetts.[1]

Honored in Ship Naming

The USS Earle, launched 10 December 1941 by Boston Navy Yard, was named in his honor. The launch was sponsored by Mrs. John F. Hines, Jr., daughter of Rear Admiral Earle.
The Naval Weapons Station Earle (New Jersey) was also named (in 1943) to honor the admiral because of his strong association with ordnance projects.


1. “Stroke Is Fatal To Admiral Earle. Head of Worcester Polytechnic Institute Collapses While Addressing Students. Ordnance Chief In War. He Planned the North Sea Mine Field and Originated 14-inch Nasal Rail Batteries”. The New York Times. Associated Press. February 14, 1939.
2. Quirk, Robert (1962). An Affair of Honor: Woodrow Wilson and the Occupation of Veracruz. University of Kentucky Press. pp. 15. ISBN 9780393003901.
3. “Admiral Earle May Head School”. The New York Times. September 26, 1924.
4. “Earle Heads W.P.I. New President Emphasizes the Problem of Living”. The New York Times. October 23, 1925.
5. “Archived copy”. Archived from the original on 2013-08-29. Retrieved 2007-12-01.