HMS Myrmidon (1900)

HMS Myrmidon (1900) was a B class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean and Home Waters before the First World War and the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Dover Patrol, during the First World War. She was sunk in a collision in the channel on on 26 March 1917.

The first Palmer 30-knotters had four boilers with the middle two feeding a single funnel, but this changed in the 1897-8 programme, with all four boilers getting their own funnel. The middle two funnels were positioned close together, in the same area as the original merged funnel. The new layout was retained in the 1898-9 programme.

Pre-War Career

The Myrmidon was ordered as part of the July 1898 supplement to the 1898-99 naval construction programme.

The Myrmidon was laid down on 23 October 1899 and launched at Jarrow on Saturday 26 May 1900, the fourteenth destroyer launched at Palmer’s shipyard. At the time she was described as having a displacement of 316t, somewhat under her real weight. She was sponsored by Miss Florence P McLaren, daughter of the chairman of Palmers.

The Myrmidon was accepted into the Royal Navy in May 1901.

Between 1901 and 1905 the Myrmidon was part of the Mediterranean Destroyer Flotilla. This was where many later destroyer tactics were worked out, as the size of the theatre and the limited number of home bases meant that the destroyers had to operate with the main fleet. 

The Myrmidon took part in the combined Mediterranean, Channel and Cruiser Squadron Manoeuvres which took part in the Mediterranean in the autumn of 1902, and were intended to test out the problems of conducting a close blockage of an enemy fleet in port. She was one of seven destroyers in B Fleet, one of two blockading fleets.

On 1 October, the first night of the blockade the Myrmidon and the Chamois attacked two destroyers from X Fleet, having mistaken them for torpedo boats. At the time they claimed to have disabled them, but the rules of the manoeuvre weren’t very well thought out. The umpires didn’t make their judgement on individual actions until the event was over. They then judged the Chamois to have been knocked out earlier in the day, and the Myrmidon to have been operating alone against superior forces, and thus knocked out. As this wasn’t known at the time the Myrmidon continued to take part in the exercises, and later on was mislead by a clever use of false lights on part of X Fleet. However a failure of communication meant that the false report didn’t reach the fleet commander.

In March 1903 she had to take the destroyer HMS Chamois under tow.

On 30 October 1904 one of her crew, Able Seaman Samual Sparkes, drowned while the ship was at Malta.

In 1906 she was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla of the Channel Fleet, then the most important part of the home fleet.

In 1907-1909 she was in either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, attached to the Home Fleet and operating with a full crew complement.

In 1911-12 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, attached to the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships, and its destroyers were only partly manned. This marked the point at which the Myrmidon was no longer seen as a front line warship.

From May 1912 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, one of the patrol flotillas, once again serving with a reduced complement.

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

First World War

From August 1914 the Myrmidon served with the Dover Patrol (Sixth Destroyer Flotilla).

On 23 October 1914 she was operating off the Belgian coast in support of the Allied armies when she reported being attacked by German submarines.

In November 1914 the Mymidon was still with the Sixth Flotilla, but she had been in for repairs since the afternoon of 27 October.

In January 1915 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, one of the Patrol Flotillas.

In June 1915 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, based at Dover.

At the start of January 1916 she was once again undergoing repairs, although they were expected to be over by 13 January.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty five destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla of the Dover Patrol, which now included a large number of Tribal class destroyers.

On 26 October 1916, at the start of the battle of the Dover Strait (a successful German raid on the Dover Barrage), the Myrmidon was one of eight British destroyers and a destroyer leader that were at Dunkirk. The Myrmidon was one of five that was already based there, as Dunkirk was a base used on a regular basis by the Dover Patrol.

The Mymidon was awarded a battle honour for operations off the Belgian Coast in 1914-1916.

In January 1917 she was one of twenty active destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, although another twelve were away from Dover undergoing refits.

On 1-3 January 1917 the Myrmidon helped with the salvage of SS Sussex. In July 1918 her crew were awarded naval salvage money for their efforts, although by then the Myrmidon had been lost.

The Myrmidon was sunk in a collision with the SS Hamborn in the Channel on 26 March 1917. Only one of her crew was killed in the incident.

Displacement (standard)

370t

Displacement (loaded)

420t

Top Speed

Two triple expansion engines
Four Reed watertube boilers
30 knots

Engine

6,200ihp

Range

 

Length

220.25ft oa
215ft pp

Width

20.75ft

Armaments

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

Crew complement

 

Laid down

23 October 1899

Launched

26 May 1900

Completed

May 1901

Collision

1917

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 (24 January 2019), HMS Myrmidon (1900) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Myrmidon_1900.html

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