HMS Fame (1896)

HMS Fame (1896) was a D class destroyer that spent almost her entire career on the China station, from 1897 to 1921 when she was broken up.

The Fame was one of three 30-knot destroyers ordered from Thornycroft as part of the 1894-5 programme. She was powered by Thornycroft’s own four cylinder compound engines and had two funnels (which placed her in the ‘D’ Class’ when the letter classes were introduced in 1912). This group of Thornycroft destroyers had a ‘semi-tunnel’ stern which made then impressively manoeuvrable, and kept their speed better than most, but were wet forward.

Officers of HMS Fame, 1900
Officers of
HMS Fame, 1900

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 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.

Brassey’s Naval Annual for 1896 reported that she had reached an average speed of 30.155 on six runs over the measured mile, but unusually didn’t give a speed for her average time on a three hour run. The 1898 annual recorded a speed of 30.168 knots over the three hour run.

Pre War Career

HMS Fame from the left HMS Fame from the left

Soon after being commissioned, the Fame was allocated to the China Station, departing in 1897. She spent the rest of her career on that station, serving there throughout the First World War.

In 1900 raiding parties from the Fame and Whiting, led by Roger Keyes, captured four Chinese destroyers without suffering any casualties, during the attack on the Taku forts. During the same campaign Keyes also led a party that destroyed a deserted fort above Tong-ku on the Peiho River. Keyes was also awarded a medal by the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a sailor from the Peiho on 8 July. Keyes was awarded the China Medal for his role in the campaign.

After the relief of Tientsin, the Fame was used to run a ferry service between Taku and the fleet.

In July 1914 the Fame was one of eight destroyers on the China Station.

First World War

In August 1914 the Fame was one of three destroyers on the China Station based at Hong Kong (along with the Jed and the Chelmer).

In November 1914 the Fame was of eight destroyers on the China Station based at Hong Kong.

In June 1915 the Fame was one of four destroyers on the China Station, after the more modern River class destroyers were moved to the Mediterranean.

In January 1916 the Fame was on the China station, and had been ordered to move from Hong Kong to Singapore.

In October 1916 the Fame was one of nine destroyers on the China Station, which had been reinforced by a flotilla of Australian destroyers.

In January 1917 the Fame was back to being one of three destroyers on the China Station, after the Australians moved on.

Early in 1917 the German raider Wolf was at large in eastern waters, having slipped past the British blockade of Germany late in 1916. When she first appeared the Fame was at Hong Kong. By late March she was part of a sizable squadron guarding the southern end of the Malacca Straits, the main shipping lane between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. The Wolf remained at large throughout the year, despite the Allied effort, and by late in 1917 the Fame was in the Java Sea.

In June 1917 the Fame was one of three destroyers on the China Station.

In January 1918 the Fame was one of three destroyers on the China Station.

In June 1918 the Fame was one of three destroyers on the China Station.

She was listed as being paid off in the Navy List for August 1918.

In November 1918 the Fame was one of three destroyers on the China Station.

The Fame was broken up in 1921.

Charles M. Blackman: 9 December 1913-January 1941-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots on trial
25 knots realistic sea speed


Four cylinder compound engines
Three boilers


210ft oa
208ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

4 July 1895


15 April 1896


June 1897

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 (28 August 2019), HMS Fame (1896) ,

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