HMS Kestrel (1898)

HMS Kestrel (1898) was a C class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla in 1914-1918 and the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla for most of 1918.

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.

The Kestrel arrived at Portsmouth for her trials on Saturday 7 October 1899.

In 1899 the Kestrel took part in speed and fuel efficiency trials. She reached 30.044 knots at 6,682 ihp, consuming 2.35 pounds of coal per iHP per hour and 30.04 knots at 6,600 ihp. On a low speed run she reached 13.089 knots at 456ihp at 2.060 pounds of coal per iHP per hour. These results were later published in Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1900.

On Tuesday 17 October 1899 she carried out another low speed trial off Portsmouth, a 10 hour coal consumption trial. On this occasion she produced 530hp at 165rpm, producing a speed of 13.5 knots at 2.3lb of coal per ihp per hour.

On Thursday 26 October 1899 she carried out another 10 hour coal consumption trial, this time producing 475hp, a speed of 13 knots and consumed 2.24lb per ihp per hour.

Pre-war Career

In 1900-1905 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of the three that contained all of the home based destroyers.

The Kestrel took part in the 1900 naval manoeuvres, when she formed part of the Portsmouth division of Fleet B, the defensive fleet. Fleet A was smaller, but was expecting reinforcements from the Mediterranean, suggesting that the potential enemy at this stage was France. During the exercises she claimed to have torpedoed HMS Gibraltar, but this was disallowed by the umpires.

These early destroyers weren’t terribly robust vessels. The Kestrel suffered an engine failure while steaming from Kenmara to Kingstown in October 1900, and had to limp into port. The slide cover of her starboard engine broke, causing damage in the starboard engine room. Temporary repairs were carried out in Ireland, and she then returned to Portsmouth with both engines working, for full repairs.

The Kestrel 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 Kestrel 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 Tuesday 10 February 1903 the Kestrel attempted to carry out a test of some newly repaired machinery, but after three quarters of an hour the top gut on her starboard air pump failed and she had to return to Portsmouth.

In 1905-1906 the Kestrel was part of the 1st Division, which was attached to the Channel Fleet as part of a restructuring of the British destroyer forces. 

In mid April 1905 the Kestrel had a narrow escape from disaster while leaving Portsmouth Harbour. She ran across a long forgotten chain, which caught her propellers and held her in place, causing damage as the engines strained against the ropes. She had to be towed back into dock after suffering some structural damage.

In 1907-1909 she moved away from the battle fleet, and returned to the Portsmouth Flotilla.

In August 1907 she was damaged in a collision with the Teviot. Her bows were badly damaged and she had to be towed stern first back to Portsmouth by the cruiser HMS Eclipse.

In 1909-1912 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and was based at Chatham with a reduced complement. This flotilla was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, which contained the older battleships.

From 1912 onwards she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, with a reduced crew complement.

In June-July 1912 she was used to support naval aircraft during a Royal Review at Weymouth and again at Portsmouth.

In July 1914 she was in active commission at Sheerness/ Chatham

First World War

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 Flitlla.

In June 1915 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

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

In October 1916 she was one of eight destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1917 she was one of seven destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla

In January 1918 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

On 19 May 1918 the dirigible Z-51 reported sighting a periscope below the surface west of Bardsey off the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula (North Wales). A sizable force of surface vessels soon arrived on the scene, starting with USS Patterson. The Kestrel was one of three British destroyers to arrive on the scene, but despite a series of heavy attacks no U-boat was sunk.

In June 1918 she was part of the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla, and was one of five destroyers based at Kingstown.

In November 1918 she was one of five destroyers in the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla based at Kingstown.

The Kestrel was sold in March 1921.

Displacement (standard)

350ft

Displacement (loaded)

395ft

Top Speed

30 knots

Engine

5,800ihp

Range

80 tons of coal capacity (Brassey)

Length

222.5ft oa
218ft pp

Width

20.5ft

Armaments

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

Crew complement

60 (Brassey)

Laid down

2 September 1896

Launched

25 March 1898

Completed

April 1900

Broken Up

1921

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 (23 May 2019), HMS Kestrel (1898) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Kestrel_1898.html

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