HMS Sprightly (1900)

HMS Sprightly (1900) was a B class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean in 1905-6, but spend the rest of her career in home waters. At the start of the First World War she was part of the Seventh Flotilla on the East Coast, but late in 1914 she was moved to Scapa, where she was based until 1918, when she joined the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla.

The Sprightly was laid down by Laird on spec, and was purchased by the Admiralty in October 1901 to replace the two prototype turbine destroyers, which were both lost earlier in the year. She and her sister ship HMS Lively had very similar careers, and served with the same units throughout the First World War.

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.

In November 1901 the Sprightly moved from Birkenhead to Devonport to be commissioned.

Brassey’s Naval Annual for 1902 reported that she achieved 30.032 knots at 6,309ihp during her three hour full power coal consumption trial using 2.501lb of coal/ ihp, and 30.102 knots at 6,456ihp during her three hour full speed trial.

In 1902 the Sprightly joined the Devonport Flotilla, one of the three flotillas that contained all of the home based destroyers. She was part of that flotilla until 1905.

In February 1903 it was announced that her upper deck and sides alongside the stokeholds were to be strengthened.

The Sprightly took part in the 1903 naval manoeuvres. On Monday 3 August, she was one of five destroyers from the Red Fleet that were captured off the Scilly Islands  (Violet, Arab, Mermaid, Angler and Sprightly) in a move that made the newspapers. The Flirt only escaped after a three hour chase.

In 1905 she joined the Mediterranean Fleet, joining the flotilla with eight River class destroyers and three other 30-knotters (Angler, Quail and Lively).

In Late September 1905 she moved from Corfu to Malta to undergo repairs.

The Sprightly returned from the Mediterranean in 1906. She joined the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet.

In 1907-1909 she was one of the destroyers attached to the Home Fleet, as part of the 2nd or 4th Flotillas, both of which were given a full complement.

In 1908 Dundee became the base of the 7th Submarine Flotilla. The arrival of the Navy in the city wasn’t entirely popular. In October 1909 two stokers from the Sprightly were convicted of breaching the peace in the city, and the judge in the case blamed the arrival of the new navy base.

In 1909-1911 she was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet, with a full crew complement.

On 27 October 1911 she was one of eight destroyers forced to take shelter in Dover Harbour by a powerful gale. Even in the harbour she kept dragging her anchor, and needed help from a local tug.

In May 1912 she joined the 7th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, one of the Patrol Flotillas, marking a move away from the main battle fleets as newer destroyers became available.

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

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of two destroyers from the Seventh Flotilla based at Harwich. The main part of the flotilla had moved to the Humber, but a number of destroyers were posted along the east coast to guard against German raids or even invasion.

In November 1914 she was one of seven destroyers from the Seventh that were based at No.6 Patrol Base, Harwich.

On 7 November 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers that the Admiralty ordered to move from the patrol flotillas to Scapa Flow, and she departed for her new base on 8 November.

In January 1915 she was attached to the Grand Fleet.

In June 1915 she was part of the Scapa Patrol.

In January 1916 she was one of ten destroyers in the Scapa Patrol, considered to be one of the Grand Fleet Destroyers Flotillas. 

In October 1916 she was one of fifteen destroyers that were attached to the Grand Fleet, but not in a named formation.

In January 1917 she was one of ten destroyers in the Scapa Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1917 she was one of eleven destroyers in the Scapa Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1918 she was one of six active destroyers in the Scapa Local Defence Flotilla, with four more undergoing repairs.

From 2 February 1918 she was commanded by Lt. Frank C. Greenwood.

In June 1918 she was one of six destroyers from the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla that were based at Holyhead.

In November 1918 she was one of six destroyers from the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla that were based at Holyhead.

By February 1919 she was one of a large number of destroyers temporarily based at Devonport.

The Sprightly was sold for break up in July 1921.

-August 1903-: Lt and Commander Walter J.C. Lake
2 February 1918-February 1919-: Lt Frank C. Greenwood

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots






219ft oa
215ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

20 June 1899


25 September 1900


March 1902

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 (19 February 2019), HMS Sprightly (1900),

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