HMS Arun (1903)

HMS Arun was a River class destroyer that served with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15, the Portsmouth Local Defence and Escort Flotillas in 1915-1917, the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla in 1917-18 and the First Destroyer Flotilla in 1918.

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun. Later on the Arun had her 6-pounders replaced with a three 12-pounders, two of them side by side on the forecastle. She lacked the sponsons of the original design.

During the First World War her original bridge was enclosed and a new open bridge built on top. Her main mast was moved forward and a cross bar for a wireless aerial added.

At the end of October 1903 the Arun carried out her official trials. She achieved an average speed of 25.72 knots on a four hour high speed run with a full load. This made her the second River class destroyer to complete her official trials.

By 1912 Brassey’s Naval Annual listed her as being armed with four 12-pounders, after the 6-pounders were replaced across the River class as they were no longer felt to be effective

Pre-War Career

In August 1904 it was announced that the Waveney was to replace the Arun as part of the Devonport torpedo-boat instructional flotilla.

On Saturday 13 August the Arun collided with the destroyer Decoy during night exercises off the Scilly Islands. The Decoy was part of the escort for a battleship squadron that had left Queenstown on Friday 12 August to carry out a mock attack on the Scilly Islands. The Arun struck the Decoy on the port side of the aft stokehold, which soon filled with water. The Decoy was sunk in the collision and one of her crew killed. The survivors were rescued by the Arun and the Sturgeon.

At the time the Arun was commandeered by Reginald Tyrwhitt, later to become one of the most famous British naval commanders of the First World War. A court of inquiry into the loss was held at Devonport on Monday 22 August 1904, and the Arun was blamed for the loss of the Decoy. She was found to have lost touch with the rest of her flotilla, and having not carried navigation and stern lights. On Monday 30 -Tuesday 31 August 1904 a court martial was held. Tyrwhitt was charged with hazarding both ships by negligence or default. His actions were defended by the commander of the Home Fleet Destroyers, but and he was found guilty of hazarding his ships, but not of neglect and was reprimanded. His career wasn’t greatly harmed, and in 1906 he was given command of the Adventure class scout cruiser HMS Attentive.

As a result of the damage she suffered the Arun lost her place in the Devonport torpedo-boat destroyer instructional flotilla and at the end of August was replaced by the Waveney.

The Arun herself suffered significant damage to the bows, which had to be replaced. She was recommissioned for new trials on 27 September 1904.

The Arun took part in the 1904 torpedo craft manoeuvres, where the River class destroyers proved they were superior sea boats to the older 30 knotters. The Arun’s captain reported on run between Queenstown to Scilly where the two River boats were able to easily cope with seas that caused problems for the older destroyers, and that his ship was able to reach 22 knots without any problems other than spray.

In 1904 the Arun was chosen for service in the Mediterranean, and she was commissioned for her new post on Thursday 1 December 1904. However serious faults were found with one of her main shafts, and she had to undergo repairs. Her place in the Mediterranean was taken by the Blackwater, and the Arun was later chosen to be one of three River class destroyers posted to the China Station. She didn’t make the voyage until 1905. In late March the Diadem was ordered to escort her from Plymouth to the Gibraltar. She was reported to have left Gibraltar heading for Malta at the start of May 1905. On 11 May she was reported to have left Port Said heading for Colombo. Three more arrived later in 1905, but they all returned home in 1906. 

In 1906-1907 the Arun was one of six River class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, which then contained the main battleship force.

On Sunday 30 December 1906 Stoke Michael Murphy of the Arun slipped on frozen snow at Keyham Dockyard, fell into the basin and drowned.

In 1907-1909 the Arun was one of fourteen River class destroyers in the 1st or 3rd Destroyer Flotillas of the Channel Fleet, which was now becoming less important. As a result its destroyers only had nucleus crews.

At the start of September 1908 the Arun and the Liffey escorted the King on the Royal Yacht Alexandria from Calais.

On Wednesday 19 August 1908 the Arun was one of a number of destroyers anchored in Torbay. During the night the Kennet snapped her cable and was drive onto the Arun. However it was the Kennet that suffered the most damage, with a hold smashed in her engine room.

In 1909-11 the Arun was one of thirteen River Class destroyers in the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and its destroyers were partly manned.

In 1911-12 the Arun was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

In 1912-14 the Arun was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

In June 1913 the Arun and the Vulcan took part in a week of manoeuvres and exercises with six submarines in the Firth of Forth.

In January 1914 she was serving with the Ninth Patrol Flotilla, one of the Patrol Flotillas. She was commanded by Lt. Thomas G. Carter.

In July 1914 she was one of eight destroyers attached to the First Fleet Battleship Squadrons, part of the Home Fleet.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of four destroyers attached to the First Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and was at Cromarty.

In November 1914 she was one of eighteen destroyers attached to Admiral Jellicoe in his role as C-in-C of the Grand Fleet.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

At the end of March 1915 the Beagle class destroyers, which had been escorting troops across the Channel, were sent to the Dardanelles. The Arun was one of eight destroyers that were moved south to take over from them, forming the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla. 

In June 1915 the Desperate was one of seventeen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, which had been expanded, in part by giving it eight River class destroyers.

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, all River class boats.

In January 1917 she was one of thirteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, now a mix of types.

In June 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, once again all River class boats.

By October 1917 she was part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, part of the East Coast Convoys organisation.

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

By March 1918 she was part of the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth.

In June 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, which now also included the steam powered submarine HMS Swordfish, which had been converted into a surface patrol vessel.

In November 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, although two of the other boats were on detached duty.

By January 1920 she was described as ‘To be Sold’ in the Navy List.

Commanders
Lt & Commander Thomas G. Carter: 17 September 1911-January 1914-
Lt Charles E. Rathkins: 25 July 1917-December 1918-

Displacement (standard)

550t

Displacement (loaded)

625t

Top Speed

25.5kts

Engine

7,000ihp
Laird-Normand Boilers

Range

 

Length

226.75ft oa
220ft pp

Width

23.75ft

Armaments

One 12-pounder gun
Five 6-pounder guns
Two 18in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

70

Laid down

27 August 1902

Launched

29 April 1903

Completed

February 1904

Broken Up

1920

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (17 March 2020), HMS Arun (1903) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Arun_1903.html

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