U.S. Naval Academy Class Rings

Graduates Remembered

Rear Admiral Joseph Ballard Murdock

RADM Joseph B. Murdock

The class of 1870 representative is Rear Admiral Joseph Ballard Murdock. On July 8, 1937, his son, Kenneth Ballard Murdock donated Admiral Murdock’s class ring to the United States Naval Academy Museum. Manufactured by Black, Starr & Frost, the ring features a center stone with etched overlapping letters “USNA” and rope detail framing.[1]

Rear Admiral Murdock was born February 13, 1851 in Hartford, Connecticut to the Reverend John Nelson and Martha (Ballard) Murdock. On July 25, 1866, he received a nomination to the United States Naval Academy. Midshipman Murdock graduated 9th out of 68 midshipmen on June 7, 1870.[2]On his first assignment, Passed Midshipmen Murdock served in the North Atlantic Squadron on board the Nipsic, earning the rank of ensign while underway. Other early assignments included the Sabine, Monongahela, and Lancaster before a long shore tour as a coastal surveyor. Towards the end of those five years Murdock pinned on Master and married Anne Dillingham on June 26, 1879. After a short stint on the training ship Constitution new Lieutenant Murdock returned to his alma mater as an instructor in physics between September 1880 and August 1883. During the Spanish American War Murdock was the executive officer of the USS Panther based in the North Atlantic Squadron.

After his third round of study at the Naval War College, Commander Murdock commanded the training ship Alliance and served as commissioning commanding officer of armored cruiser USS Denver. From July 1907 to March 1909, Captain Murdock was Commanding Officer of the battleship Rhode Island (BB-17) as part of the Great White Fleet. The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the American Naval battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from December 16, 1907 to February 22, 1909 by order of President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of four squadrons of four battleships each, with escort vessels. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability.

Rear Admiral Murdock’s naval career culminated in May 1911 while serving as Commander of the Asiatic Fleet. His flagship Saratoga protected American missionaries and assets during the Chinese Revolution off the coast of Shanghai.[3]In retirement, Rear Admiral Murdock served in the House of Representatives, representing New Hampshire. Murdock died on March 20, 1931 in Manchester, New Hampshire at 80 years old and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts along with his wife and daughter.


[1] United States Naval Academy Class Ring Collection Master List, retrieved January 7, 2014.

[2] United States Naval Academy Alumni Association, Inc., 2013 Register of Alumni, (Chesapeake, VA: Harris Connect, 2012), A5.

[3] John Langellier, US Armed Forces in China 1856-1941, (Oxford, GB: Osprey Publishing, 2009), 5.