HMS Porcupine (1895)

HMS Porcupine was an A class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla from August 1914 until November 1917, when she was probably withdrawn from front line service as more modern destroyers became available.

The Porcupine was one of three 27-knot destroyers ordered from Palmer as part of the 1893-94 programme. She carried the standard destroyer armament of one 12-pounder, five six-pounders and two 18in torpedo tubes. She had three funnels, and was considered to be one of the most seaworthy of the early destroyers. 

The Palmer 27 knotters had four Reed water-tube boilers in two boiler rooms, with the uptakes from boilers 2 and 3 trunked together to give the three funnel layout.

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.

Pre-war Service

The Porcupine was laud down on 28 March 1894 and launched on 19 September 1985.

In January 1896 the Porcupine set a record for the voyage from the Tyne to the Thames, taking 15 hours at an average speed of 20mph.

A first attempt to carry out her trials on Tuesday 4 February 1896 had to be cancelled after a leak was found in a condenser tube. When the trials were completed later in the month she reached 27.916 knots over three hours of continuous steaming and a top speed of 28.5 knots on her fastest run over the measured mile.

The Porcupine was accepted into the Royal Navy in March 1896.

The Porcupine took part in the 1896 naval manoeuvres, which were meant to simulate the unexpected outbreak of war. She was part of Fleet B based at Dublin, one of two fleets available to Admiral Kerr’s Channel Fleet.

The Porcupine took part in the 1899 naval manoeuvres, where she was one of the destroyers allocated to the Reserve Fleet (as ‘B Flotilla), which was given the task of using slower capital ships and destroyers to protect a convoy against an attack by faster capital ships. Both fleets included large numbers of cruisers, and the aim was to learn more about how to integrate cruisers and battleships and how to use destroyers.

In the autumn of 1899 the Porcupine was part of a destroyer flotilla that paid a visit to Scottish waters. While she was there Charles Stuart Russell, her engineer, was fatally injured while cycling between Stonehaven and Bervie. He was buried in Aberdeen.

By 1900 the Porcupine was part of the Nore Flotilla, where she remained until 1904. This was one of three large flotillas that contained all destroyers in home waters.

In May 1901 the Porcupine was one of a force of seven destroyers that visited the North East, arriving in the Wear from Chatham on 9 May.

The Porcupine 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 Porcupine was part of a force of destroyers from Chatham that joined Fleet X. 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 23 October 1901 the Porcupine collided with the hospital boat Egidia, while getting under way, damaging the port side of the hospital ship and her own stern.

In July 1902 the Porcupine was part of a fleet that visited Torbay, where one of her crewmen, Cyril Dodsworth, attempted to commit suicide, but survived and was later brought before the local court.

From 1904-1909 the Porcupine was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla. From 1905-1907 this was part of the Home Fleet, containing ships with a reduced complement. From 1907-1909 the Portsmouth Flotilla was a defensive flotilla, while more modern destroyers were allocated to the Home Fleet.

From 1909 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and was based at Chatham with a reduced complement. The flotilla was attached to the 3rd and 4th Divisions of the Home Fleet, which was built around a large number of pre-dreadnought battleships in reduced commission.

In October 1912 the Porcupine and the Lightning visited the Humber to test the Humber defences. After the exercise they visited Grimsby to take on coal before continuing their voyage.

By March 1913 she was in commission with a nucleus crew at Sheerness/ Chatham on the Nore command, and was a tender to the shore establishment HMS Actaeon, with Lt Henry D. Pridham-Wippell in command.

In 1913 the Porcupine was damaged when she ran aground while anchored off Clacton Pier while an officer went on shore, suffering damage to one propeller blade. On 13 December Lt F.S. McGachen of the Porcupine was court-martialed for the incident. He was found guilty, despite claiming that the soundings were incorrect, and was severely reprimanded.

In January 1914 she was in commission with a full crew at Sheerness/ Chatham, and she was still there in July 1914.

Wartime Service

In August 1914 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In November 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers serving with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1915 she was one of eleven destroyers serving with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

From 4 December 1915 until at least the start of 1919 she was commanded by Lt Commander Reginald G. Pardoe.

In January 1916 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

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

In January 1917 she was one of nine destroyers serving with the Chatham & Sheerness Local Defence Flotilla (a temporary renaming of the Nore Flotilla).

In the June 1917 Pink List she was one of seven destroyers serving with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In the October and November 1917 supplement to the Navy List she was one of eleven destroyers with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, but by December 1917 she was no longer serving with the Flotilla.

By January 1918 she was no longer listed in the Admiralty’s Pink List of warship locations, nor in the Navy List supplements.

By February 1919 she was one of a large number of warships that were temporarily based at theNore.

On 20 May 1920 she was sold to Ward at Rainham to be broken up.

-September 1899-: Lt and Commander Besty-Pownall
-March 1913-: Lt Henry D. Pridham-Wippell
1 October 1913-January 1914-: Lt & Commander Charles E. Hamond
4 December 1914-1919: Lt. Commander Reginald G. Pardoe

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Pendant Numbers

1914: P.24
1915-April 1916: D.96
1 January 1918: D.18

Top Speed

27 knots (contract)
22 knots (deep load)


Two triple-expansion engines
Four Reed water-tube boilers
2 screws


1,470 miles at 11 knots
75 tons coal


204.5ft oa
200ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

28 March 1894


19 September 1895


March 1896

Broken Up

April 1920

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


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How to cite this article: Rickard, J (12 December 2018), HMS Porcupine (1895) ,

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