HMS Dove (1898)

HMS Dove (1898) was a C class destroyer that served with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1914, briefly at Scapa in 1914-15 then helped form the North Channel Patrol in February 1915. She was officially part of that force for the rest of the war, but was taken over by the senior naval officer at Liverpool in February 1915 and never returned to Larne.

Earle built two ships in the 1896-7 programme. They had four Thornycroft boilers in two stokeholds, with the second and third boilers sharing the middle funnel of three. Earle also put forward a tender for repeat ships in the 1897-8 programme, but were turned down as neither of the earlier ships had yet completed their trials.

The Dove’s launch attracted a large crowd to Earle’s shipyard in Hull. The naming ceremony was carried out by Mrs Pellow, the wife of Staff –Engineer Pellow, the Royal Navy’s resident engineer in the Yorkshire District.

HMS Dove from the right
HMS Dove from the right

On Thursday 10 May 1900 the Dove carried out a trial in the Humber, where she averaged 30.5 knots.  

On 20 September 1900 the Dove carried out a steam trial off Portsmouth. Another trial was carried out on Tuesday 16 October 1900, this time a full power steam trial.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1901 published some of her trial data. She achieved 29.250 knots at  5,802ihp, consuming 2.307 lbs of coal per iHP per hour and 29.368 knots at 6,012ihp.

The Dove’s sister ship Bullfinch suffered a disaster caused by the failure of some connecting rods. At the inquest evidence of weakness in the Bullfinch’s rods, including those that had not failed, was presented, but at the same time the similar rods in the Dove were said to have operating safely at higher engine pressures.

By April 1918 she had the approved depth charge armament of two throwers and eighteen charges, with the aft gun and the torpedo tubes removed to compensate for the extra weight.

In 1901-1905 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of three that contained all of the home based destroyers.

The Dove took part in the 1901 naval manoeuvres, which began in late July. These involved two fleets – Fleet B began in the North Sea, and had the task of keeping the English Channel open to trade. Fleet X began off the north coast of Ireland, and had the task of stopping trade in the Channel. The Dove was part of a force of destroyers from Portsmouth that joined Fleet B. This was the first time both sides in the annual exercises had been given an equal force of destroyers. The exercises ended with a victory for Fleet X. The destroyer forces didn’t live up to expectations, either in torpedo attack or as scouts.

On Thursday 15 August 1901, after the exercises were over, the Dove was one of four destroyers that were paid off at Portsmouth.

On 21 May 1902 she arrived at Queenstown (escorted by the Bullfinch), after her port propeller was knocked off when it struck a rock. The Dove docked at Queenstown to have the damage repaired. The Dove had hit rocks on the entrance to Killery Bay, and at first had been towed by the Bullfinch, before the hawser parted and she had to make the rest of the voyage under her own power. At the time she was flagship of the Portsmouth flotilla. She left Queenstown on 22 May, heading to Portsmouth for full repairs. She reached Portsmouth by 27 May and went into the dry dock, where the damage to her hull was found to be more serious than previously believed. On 29 May her crew were transferred to the Success, which replaced her in the Portsmouth Instructional Flotilla.

In the aftermath of the incident there was a minor scandal over the choice of Portsmouth for her repairs, and an inquiry into the status of the Haulbowline navy base (on an island in Cork Harbour), where all ships on the Irish station were meant to be repaired.

Her captain on the day, Commander Douglas Romilly Lothian Nicholson, was court-martialed on 10 June 1902, charged with having ‘negligently hazarded his vessel’. Nicholson was found guilty of having hazarded his vessel, but not negligently, and was severely reprimanded. The incident doesn’t appear to have damaged Nicholson’s career. He was promoted to captain in 1904, served as captain of the battleships Lord Nelson, St. Vincent and Conqueror before the First World War, captain of the Agincourt in 1914-16. He was then promoted to flag rank and served as a rear admiral in the Third Battle Squadron in 1917 and commander of the Fourth Battle Squadron in 1918-1918.

In late November 1903 the Dove suffered considerable damage in a gale in the Channel and had to return to Portsmouth on 29 November.

In April 1904 she took part in the salvage operations that lifted the submarine HMS A1, which had been lost with all hands after being accidently rammed during an exercise off Portsmouth.

In the following month she was dry docked for repairs, which were complete by 26 May when she left the dry dock.

In 1905-9 she was part of the Nore Flotilla, which was generally filled with older destroyers, while the newer boats were attached directly to the Channel Fleet and Atlantic Fleet and their battleships.

In mid April 1905 the Dove was damaged during a steam trial in the North Sea. Her starboard propeller hit a floating object. One blade broke off, hit the ship and punched a hole in her hull. One of her rear compartments was flooded and she had to return to Sheerness for repairs.

In mid May she carried out a successful steam trial in the North Sea, and then returned to Sheerness to prepare to join the Portsmouth Reserve Squadron.

The Dove took part in the 1906 Naval Maneouvers, where she was part of the ‘British’ fleet. She was captured by the ‘enemy’ torpedo gunboat Skipjack on Saturday 30 June 1906

In 1909-1912 she was part of the 5th Destroyer Division at Devonport, with a reduced complement. This was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, built around the older battleships.

In 1912 she joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, one of the new patrol flotillas, again with a reduced complement.

In July 1914 she was part of the Seventh Patrol Flotilla at Devonport, part of the Second Fleet of the Home Fleet.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of eleven destroyers from the Seventh Flotilla that had moved to its new war base on the Humber

On 17 August 1914 the German submarine U-22 approached Flamborough Head, where she waited for a suitable target. On the afternoon of 18 August the Dove spotted her 15 miles to the west of the Spurn Lightship, noting her as U.27. She gave chase, but was unable to catch the submarine. After suffering from engine trouble overnight U-22 began the return trip to Germany on 19 August and reached safety on 20 August. 

In August 1914 she was one of eleven destroyers from the flotilla that had moved to the flotilla’s new base on the Humber, others were scattered along the east coast. 

She was one of twelve destroyers that were ordered to move north to Scapa Flow on 7 November 1914, and was dispatched north on 8 November.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

On 16 February 1915 the Dove, Garry and Thorn left Scapa Flow to form a North Channel Patrol, protecting the northern entrance to the Irish Sea. The patrol was to be commandeered by the CO of HMS Tara, under the overall authority of the admiral in charge at Larne.

On 20 February 1915 she took part in the hunt for a submarine in Liverpool Bay. This was triggered by the sinking of the steamer Cambank at 11am on 20 February 10 miles to the east of Point Lynas on Anglesey by U-30. The Dee and the Dove were sent from the North Channel Patrol to try and find the submarine. However the submarine achieved another success before heading home around the northern end of Scotland. The Dove reached Liverpool on 21 February, and the senior naval officer at Liverpool then ordered her to patrol off the Calf of Man. The Dove and Dee were retained in Liverpool waters well into April, when a newly appointed Admiral at Larne attempted to get them back.

In June 1915 she was part of the North Channel Patrol and was officially based at Larne.

In January 1916 she was one of four destroyers in the North Channel Patrol but was officially listed as being under the orders of the senior naval officer at Liverpool.

In April 1916 the Dove and Dee helped cover the movement of troops from England back to Ireland to deal with the Easter uprising. By this point she was described as a ‘Liverpool destroyer’, demostrating that the commander at Larne had failed to get her back.

In October 1916 she was listed as being based on the Mersey.

In January 1917 she was one of two destroyers from the North Channel Patrol based at Liverpool.

In June 1917 she was one of two destroyers from the North Channel Patrol based at Liverpool.

In January 1918 she was one of two destroyers from the North Channel Patrol based at Liverpool but was undergoing repairs.

In June 1918 she was operating on patrols on the Grand Fleet area and was one of two destroyers from the North Channel Patrol based at Liverpool.

In November 1918 she was one of six destroyers in the North Channel Patrol.

The Dove was sold in January 1920.

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots




80 tons coal capacity (Brassey)


214.5ft oa
210ft pp




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

Crew complement

60 (Brassey)

Laid down

17 September 1896


21 March 1898


July 1901

Broken Up


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 (16 May 2019), HMS Dove (1898) ,

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