HMS Peterel (1899)

HMS Peterel (1899) was a B class destroyer that served in home waters for her entire career, serving with the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla on the Firth of Forth from 1914-17, then moving to the Humber in 1917, spending the rest of the war with the Seventh Flotilla.

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. As a result the earlier ships became part of the C Class in 1912 while the later ships joined the B Class. Otherwise they were very similar. Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1901 reported that her boilers had a total grate area of 258 sq ft and a tube surface of 13,784 sq ft.

The Peterel wasn’t originally part of an official order. She was laid down ‘on spec’ on 29 July 1898, following on from the company’s single destroyer of the 1897-8 programme, HMS Spiteful, and was offered to the Royal Navy as part of a three destroyer package in the 1898-9 programme, alongside the Myrmidon and Syren.

Pre-War Career

The Peterel was laid down on 29 July 1898 and launched on 30 March 1899.

The Peterel carried out her three hours’ fuel consumption trial from Portsmouth at the end of March 1900. She averaged 30.322 knots at 384rpm over the six runs on the measured mile and 30.097 knots on the three hour run at 380.6 rpm. The Peterel was the tenth Palmer-built boat to undergo her trials, and carried them out at a heavier displacement than the previous nine.

The Peterel was accepted into the Royal Navy in July 1900.

Pre-War Career

HMS Peterel at Sea
HMS Peterel at Sea

From 1900-1905 the Peterel was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of the three big flotillas that contained all of the British home based destroyers.

In 1901 she was the commodore ship of the Portsmouth flotilla of instructional destroyers.

The Panther 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 Peterel was part of 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.

Late in 1901 she was used for trials of aluminium torpedo tubes. In November it was reported that the trials had gone well, and the new design was expected to save a great deal of weight on destroyers. However later sea trials showed that the aluminium tubes corroded too quickly, and couldn’t be used.

Sport was one of the main leisure activities of the British sailors during this period, but in December 1904 the Peterel’s team lost 8-0 against a team from the turbine powered HMS Velox.

In 1904-5 the Peterel took part in trials against her sister ship Spiteful, which had been converted to burn oil instead of coal.

In 1905-1906 she was part of the 1st Division of the Channel Fleet, based at Dover. This was part of the slow move to concentrate the Royal Navy in home waters to deal with an increasing threat from Germany, which eventually saw 18 battleships, one cruiser squadron and four divisions of destroyers based at Dover.
In 1906-1907 she was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla of the Channel Fleet.

In 1907-1909 she was based at Portland, as part of either the 1st or 3rd Destroyer Flotilla of the Channel Fleet. This made her part of the main battle fleet.

In 1909-1910 she was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, in full commission. This was part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet. She was still in full commission.

In 1912-1913 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, a newly formed patrol flotilla based at Portsmouth. This marked the end of her time as part of the main battle fleet.

From 1913 she was part of the 8th Destroyer Flotilla at Chatham, another patrol flotilla.

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

First World War

In August 1914 she was part of the Eighth Patrol Flotilla, which was based in the Firth of Forth, but she was still at Chatham. These coastal patrol flotillas carried out a wide range of duties, including searching for submarines and mines, escorting individual ships and patrolling the coast, but their efforts are often poorly documented.

In November 1914 she was part of the 2nd Division Outer Patrol of the Eighth Flotilla. The two divisions were responsible for patrolling the area from St Abb’s Head (just inside the Scottish border to the north of Berwick on Tweed)) to Gregness (at Aberdeen), and was based at Rosyth, deep inside the Firth of Forth.

In January 1915 she was part of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla, a patrol flotilla

In June 1915 she was part of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla which was now concentrated at Rosyth. 

In January 1916 she was one of six destroyers in the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla, still based in the Firth of Forth. All six had been equipped with Submarine Sweeps, and they were operating in pairs – two patrolling near May Island and two on stand by at Queensferry. Presumably the third pair was resting, and they would swap roles.

In October 1916 she was one of seven destroyers with the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla on the Firth of Forth.

In January 1917 she was one of seven destroyers with the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla on the Firth of Forth.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty three destroyers in the newly formed East Coast Convoys, Humber, created as part of the general introduction of convoys in the face of heavy shipping losses after the Germans resumed unrestricted submarine warfare.

From 13 December 1917 she was commanded by Lt Norman W.M. Kemp.

In January 1918 she was part of the large Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

In June 1918 she was part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the East Coast of England, based in the Humber.

In the same month it was announced that P.O. Telegraphist James Bacon had been awarded the D.S.M. for services rendered on HMS Peterel.

In November 1918 she was part of the large Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

The Peterel was sold for break up in August 1919.

13 December 1917-February 1919-: Lt Norman W.M. Kemp

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots






219.4ft oa
215ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

29 July 1898


30 March 1899


July 1900

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 (22 January 2019), HMS Peterel (1899) ,

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