HMS Larne (1910)

HMS Larne (1910) was an Acorn class destroyer that served with the Second Destroyer Flotilla with the Grand Fleet in 1914-15 and at Devonport later in 1915, with the British Adriatic Squadron attached to the Italian fleet in late 1916-early 1917, the Malta Flotilla for most of the rest of the war and the main Fifth Destroyer Flotilla from July 1918 onwards.

The Larne was laid down by Thornycroft at Southampton on 8 December 1909, launched on 23 August 1910 and completed in February 1911.

HMS Larne from the right HMS Larne from the right

On her full power trials she averaged 28.723 knots on 14,900shp at 720.2rpm.

From 1911-14 the Larne, 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 Saturday 1 July 1911 seven members of the class (Acorn, Alarm, Rifleman, Nemesis, Lyra, Nymphe and Larne) carried out high speed trials off Berehaven, where they were all said to have reached 28 knots. However the weather was rough, and when they reached Portland on Tuesday 4 July they were all said to have been leaking, with some water getting into the oil bunkers. Repairs had to be carried out by divers at Portland.

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 Larne 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.

Later in the war a big problem was the inability to spot submarines when they were present, but early on the problem was quite the opposite. In early November a series of reports reached the Grand Fleet of submarines around the Scottish islands. On 12-13 November firm reports came in from the Hebrides, so the Rifleman and Larne was sent to investigate. On their return they reported having found clear evidence that German submarines were indeed using the western Hebrides. Whatever this evidence was, it had nothing to do with the U-boats, which weren’t actually in the area at the time!

In February 1915 the Larne’s division (Cameleon, Larne, Rifleman and Ruby) was sent from Scapa Flow into the Irish Sea to help defend against a U-boat raid and were posted at Barrow-in-Furness. However this was a short-lived posting. They remained at Barrow for a few days, then escorted the battleship HMS Conqueror south to Liverpool on her to Devonport for repairs after suffering damage in a collision. They arrived at Liverpool on 14 February, and then began the voyage back to Scapa. This didn’t go terribly well – the Larne was the only one to reach Scapa without problems. Ruby and Riflemen was found to be leaking when they reached the Clyde and had to dock, while the Cameleon ran into the harbour wall at Greenock! The Ruby reached Scapa on 18 February, the Cameleon and Rifleman on 24 February!

The Larne remained with the Grand Fleet into December 1915, but by this point only six members of the class were still with the fleet. The flotilla had begun a slow move to Devonport by September 1915, and the Larne moved south early in 1916. She was listed as being based at Devonport in the January 1916 Navy Lists.

On 28 April 1916 the Larne opened fire on a U-boat at long range while returning to Devonport from escort duty. This was one of three U-boats that had not heard the German radio message ending a period of almost unrestricted U-boat war around the British coast, but she survived this encounter with the Larne.

On 9 September 1916 the Larne was escorting the SS Elby when the Norwegian SS Pronto was sunk by a U-boat in the area to the north-west of Ushant. The Larne arrived on the scene while the U-boat was still on the surface and opened fire from 6,000 yards, driving it off. She then picked up the crew of the Pronto.

In November 1916 the Cameleon was still listed as being at Devonport, but in December 1916 she was one of four Acorn class ships (Cameleon, Nereide, Larne and Nemesis) that had moved to the Mediterranean to join the British Adriatic Squadron. In January 1917 all four were reported as being attached to the Italian Fleet. However their time in the Adriatic was short, and by March they were all part of the contingent from the 5th Destroyer Flotilla that was based at Malta, joining four of their sisters (Acorn, Minstrel, Rifleman and Sheldrake). In May 1917 these eight ships all became part of the separate Malta Flotilla.

In June 1917 Cameleon, Nereide, Larne and Nemesis were listed as being with the Malta Flotilla, but also as still attached to the Italian Fleet.

In January 1918 she was one of six H class destroyers that were part of the Malta Patrol.

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.

In November 1918 she was one of fourteen H class destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, now at Mudros, although it isn’t clear when she moved to the Aegean.

In the February 1919 Navy List she was part of the destroyer flotilla at Malta.

In November 1919 she was one of seven H class destroyers in the hands of care and maintenance parties in the Devonport reserve.

Wartime Career
-August 1914-December 1915: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
January 1916-November 1916: Second Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
December 1916-January 1917-: British Adriatic Squadron (reported as attached to Italian Fleet in January and June 1917)
March 1917-April 1917: 5th Destroyer Squadron, Malta
May 1917-June 1918: Malta Flotilla
July 1918-August 1918-: Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Brindisi
-December 1918-February 1919-: Aegean Squadron, Mudros

Commander Rafe G. Rowley-Conwy: 12 May 1914-July 1914-
Lt Commander Aubrey T. Tillard: - October 1914-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines (most in class)
4 Yarrow boilers (most in class)




246ft oa


25ft 3in to 25ft 5.5in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

8 December 1909


23 August 1910


February 1911

Sold for break up

May 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 (11 March 2021), HMS Larne (1910) ,

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