HMS Comet (1910)

HMS Comet (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport in 1915 then with the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean before she was torpedoed and sunk on 6 August 1918, while being towed back to port after suffering damage in a collision two days earlier.

HMS Comet in 1918 HMS Comet in 1918

The Comet was laid down at Fairfields at Govan on 1 February 1910, launched on 23 June 1910 and completed in June 1911

From 1911-14 the Comet, along with the entire Acorn class and the Laferoy class destroyer HMS Lark formed the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, a fully manned flotilla that was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet until 1912, then part of the First Fleet from 1912-1914. At the outbreak of war in 1914 the First Fleet became the Grand Fleet.

On Friday 15 March 1912 the Comet was caught by the wind as she was leaving her berth at Portland and was blown onto a coal lighter, damaging her side and propeller. She was close to drifting onto nearby rocks before she was towed away by the tug Egerton. This wasn’t a good day for the Acorn class, as the Goldfinch and Ruby later collided while entering their berths!

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Second Flotilla, part of the First Fleet of the Home Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The Second Flotilla contained the entire Acorn or H class of destroyers.

First World War

After the outbreak of war in August 1915 the Comet and the entire class formed the Second Flotilla of the Grand Fleet. By November 1914 they had been joined by the flotilla leader Broke. On 19 February 1915 her sister ship Goldfinch was wrecked, leaving the nineteen survivors in the flotilla. By June 1915 the flotilla contained all nineteen of the Acorn class boats and the M class destroyer HMS Moon.

HMS Comet from the right HMS Comet from the right

On 23 August 1914 the Comet collided with the Rifleman in fog. The Comet was said to be ‘considerably damaged’, but there were no casualties.

On 6 May 1915 the Comet and the Nemesis were escorting the minelayer Orvieto from Scapa Flow into the Heligoland Bight on a mine laying raid. However in dense fog the Nemesis was seriously damaged in a collision, and the raid had to be cancelled.

The class finally began to split up in the summer of 1915. The first big change came in September 1915, when Acorn, Comet, Fury, Hope, Redpole, Sheldrake and Staunch moved south to Devonport. They were still part of the 2nd Flotilla, but were listed as being on detached service as tenders to Vivid, the shore base at Devonport. Over the next few months most of the rest of the class moved south to Devonport, while most of the first wave of ships to move south went on to the Mediterranean.

On 13 November 1915 Comet, Fury, Redpole and Staunch left Devonport, heading for the Mediterranean. The Fury and the Comet had been allocated to a force that was being gathered in case war broke out with Greece

In January 1916 she was one of three H class destroyers under the command of the Vice-Admiral Commanding, Eastern Mediterranean. From then until the end of the war she was part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean.

In October 1916 she was one of four H class destroyers with the main part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla in the  Mediterranean Fleet, while another four were posted at Malta.

In January 1917 she was one of four H class destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean.

In June 1917 she was one of six H class destroyers at Malta, but she was there for repairs.

In late October and early November 1917 the Comet helped support the British offensive in Palestine, which began with the battle of Beersheba (31 October 1917), before the Turkish lines nearer the coast were broke during the third battle of Gaza (1-2 November 1917). On 30 October the Comet and the Staunch escorted the monitor HMS Raglan as it bombarded Deir Sineid railway station. The British destroyers were briefly replaced by the French destroyers Fauconneau and Hache early in November, but continued to support the attack. However direct naval support for the attack ended after UC-38 managed to get into the naval anchorage off Dier el Belah on 11 November and sank the Staunch and the monitor M.15.

On the night of 22 April 1918 the Comet was part of a force of light warships that were protecting the Straits of Otranto, while various attempts at blocking it with nets were being tested and built. The Austro-Hungarians decided to attack these vulnerable ships, and sent a force of destroyers south on a raid. HMS Hornet was very badly damaged in the attack. The Comet was nearby, and reported that enemy cruisers were in sight! The Comet then took part in the pursuit of the retreating Austrians, but this was abandoned without success.  

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

By July 1918 the ships in the Malta Flotilla had joined the Fifth Flotilla, which was based at Brindisi. In addition they had finally been joined by the Brisk, which had disappeared from Ireland in June, and arrived in the Mediterranean in July. This was the first time since June 1915, when the first ships left the Grand Fleet to move to Devonport, that all of the surviving Acorn class ships still in British service had been gathered in the same formation. It didn’t last for long, as by August 1918 Lyra had been moved to Gibraltar.

The Comet was damaged in a collision in the Mediterranean on 4 August 1918 and two men were killed. Two days later, while she was under tow, she was probably torpedoed and sank with the loss of a further six men.

By the time she was lost the Comet had been modified by having both of her torpedo tubes removed, and the aft 4in gun moved to aft torpedo tube position to make space for more depth charges.

Wartime Service
-August 1914-August 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
September 1915-13 November 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
January 1916-June 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean
July 1918-6 August 1918: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi

 

Commanders
Commander the Hon. William S. Leveson-Gower: 18 August 1913-October 1914-

Displacement (standard)

772t

Displacement (loaded)

970t

Top Speed

27 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 Yarrow boilers (most in class)
13,500shp

Range

 

Length

246ft oa

Width

25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in

Armaments

Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement

72

Laid down

1 February 1910

Launched

23 June 1910

Completed

June 1911

Torpedoed

6 August 1918

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 (11 February 2021), HMS Comet (1910) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/name.html

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