HMS Coquette (1897)

HMS Coquette (1897) was a D class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, before being sunk by a German mine on 7 March 1916

HMS Coquette was one of three ships in the second batch of 30-knot destroyers ordered from Thornycroft, as part of the 1896-7 programme. She was similar to the earlier ‘Desperate class’, with Thornycroft’s own four cylinder compound engine and two funnels, but had improved lines that made her five feet longer.

HMS Coquette at sea
HMS Coquette at sea

The Thornycroft boats followed the standard basic layout with a turtleback foredeck, leading to the conning tower, which had the bridge and 12-pounder gun platform on top. The mast was between the forward funnel and the bridge. Two 6-pounders were mounted either side of the bridge, to allow three guns to fire forwards. One 6-pounder was on the port side close to the forward funnel, and another on the starboard side close to the aft funnel. Both of the torpedo tubes were carried between the rear funnel and the final 6-pounder, close to the stern. They had two map tables - one on the bridge and one between the funnels, and at least three wheels - on the bridge, in the conning tower and right at the stern. 

The three ships in the 1896-7 order were slightly longer than the earlier Thornycroft 30 knotters, but were otherwise similar.

The Thornycroft 30 knot destroyers had three boilers in two rooms, with a single boiler in the forward room and two in the rear room. The uptakes from No.1 and No.2 boilers were trunked into a single funnel. This was the same arrangement as in their 27 knot (‘A Class’) destroyers, but using more powerful larger boilers.

In 1899 the Coquette took part in speed and fuel efficiency trials. She reached 30.060 knots at 5,643ihp, consuming 2.091 pounds of coal per iHP per hour and 30.211 knots at 5,917ihp


In August 1898 the Admiralty issued instructions for the Coquette to be delivered to the Medway dockyard reserve authorities once Thornycroft had completed their work. She arrived at Chatham in late September 1898.

In December 1899 she was caught in heavy snow while passing through the North Sea, and arrived at Sheerness with 5in of snow on her decks!

In January 1900 the Mermaid, Coquette, Mallard, Sturgeon, Cygnet, Ariel and Angler carried out a cruise to Felixstowe and back to Southend.

In May 1900 her steering gear broke down in steam trials in the North Sea and she was forced to return to port to have the damage repaired. This delayed her planned departure for the Mediterranean by a week.

The Coquette took part in the Mediterranean Naval Manoeuvres of 1902. She formed part of Fleet X, which was given the task of escaping from two blockading fleets that were smaller individually, but larger when operating together.

On Saturday 2 July 1904 the Cygnet was paid off at Malta and her crew transferred to the Coquette.

In 1905 the Coquette was part of the Atlantic Fleet, based at Gibraltar. That unit was disbanded in February 1906. At the start of January the Admiralty announced that the destroyers Cherwell, Coquette, Cygnet, Cynthia, Fawn and Foyle were to accompany the Second Cruiser Squadron when it returned to Britain from Gibraltar.

In 1906-7 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of three that supported the Home Fleet battleships.

She remained with the Portsmouth Flotilla in 1907-9, but this was now a local defence force.

On Friday 3 May 1907 she suffered an accident while taking part in a naval display at Portsmouth. She was part of a flotilla that was ‘attacking’ HMS Dreadnought, but became unmanageable during the display. She managed to avoid the cruiser HMS Mercury but then hit a floating coal depot, suffering damage to her bow. She took on water but was able to reach the docks safely.

In 1909-11 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, still at Portsmouth. This was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, which contained the older battleships. The destroyer flotillas were partly manned.

From 1911 she was part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, still with the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet.

By 1913 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, with a reduced complement.

In May 1914 she took part in the hunt for the missing aviator Gustav Hamel, who disappeared on 23 May while attempting to fly back from France. It was a sign of how dangerous aviation was in those early days that two of the seaplanes used to try and find Hamel were themselves lost, although their crews were rescued. The Coquette aided Seaplane No.140, piloted by Commander Samson, a key pioneer of British naval aviation.

In July 1914 the Coquette was one of twelve destroyers in active commission at Sheerness/ Chatham.

First World War

At 2am on 5 October the Coquette believed she was chasing a German submarine off the North Foreland. This came at a bad time, just as the 7th Division of the BEF was about to cross the channel. Luckily this was a false alarm, as the Germans had been unable to dispatch any U-boats to try and interfere.

In August 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In November 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla. In mid-month they were to escort a force of monitors to Dunkirk.

In June 1915 she was one of eleven destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1916 she was one of ten destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

The Coquette hit a mine and sank in the North Sea on 7 March 1916 (along with the torpedo boat TB.11). Twenty-one men from the Coquette were killed.

Lt & Commander Reginald H. Ransome: 3 April 1912-January 1914-
Lt Vere Seymour: - 7 March 1916.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots in theory


Four cylinder compound engines
Three boilers


215.5ft oa
208ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

8 June 1896


25 November 1897


November 1899


7 March 1916

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 (25 September 2019), HMS Coquette (1897) ,

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