HMS Swale (1905)

HMS Swale (1905) was a River class destroyer that served with the Grand Fleet in 1914, at Portsmouth in 1915-1917, escorting troop ships across the Channel, the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1917-1918 before moving back to Portsmouth for most of 1918.

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun.

The Swale was one of thee River class destroyers ordered from Palmers in the 1903/4 batch. They all had four funnels, in two pairs.

The Swale, Ure and Wear were all built with automatic forced lubrication gear that had been tested in HMS Syren in April 1903. This pumped oil into the bearings, removing the need to have this done manually.

The Swale was launched at Jarrow on Monday 20 March 1905, and was christened by the wife of Admiral H.F. Cleveland.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1906 reported the results of her official trials. She averaged 25.59 knots at 7,466ihp during her four hour speed trial. They also gave the details of her boilers, which had 15,520sq.ft. of heating surfaces and 319 sq.ft of grate area. Each builder was able to use their own boilers. The Reed boilers used on the Palmers River class boats had the largest grate area, but were in the middle on heating surface.

In 1907-8 the Swale was one of a number of River class destroyers that had their five 6-pounders removed and replaced with three 12-pounder 8cwt guns, two replacing the forward 6-pounders and one on the centreline aft.

Pre-War Career

In 1906-1907 the Swale was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the Channel Fleet, which was then the Royal Navy’s main battleship force.

In 1907-1909 the Swale was part of either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet, which was becoming the main battleship force.

In August 1909 the Swale and the Welland escorted the Royal yacht from Dover to Calais at the start of a Royal visit to the Continent.

In 1909-1911 the Swale was one of seven River class destroyers in the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet. This was a front line force and its destroyers were fully manned.

On 2 September 1910 the Swale had to tow the Rother into Sheerness after she was disabled during gunnery exercises in Scottish waters. She then towed the Rother to Chatham for repairs.

In 1911-12 the Swale was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

In 1912-14 the Swale was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

In November 1912 the Swale and six torpedo boats visited the Tay, after a period based at Granton.

In July 1914 she was one of eight destroyers attached to the First Fleet Battleship Squadrons, part of the Home Fleet.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of four destroyers attached to the First Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet and was at Cromarty.

In November 1914 she was one of eighteen destroyers attacked to Admiral Jellicoe in his role as C-in-C of the Grand Fleet.

In January-March 1915 she was one of eight destroyers attached to the Grand Fleet that were recorded as being attached to the depot ship Tyne.

At the end of March 1915 the Beagle class destroyers, which had been escorting troops across the Channel, were sent to the Dardanelles. The Swale was one of eight destroyers that were moved south to take over from them, forming the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla. However in the Navy Lists for 1915 they were listed as part of the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1915 the Swale was one of seventeen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla, which had been expanded, in part by giving it eight River class destroyers.

In January 1916 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, all River class boats.

In January 1917 she was one of thirteen destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, now a mix of types.

In June 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Portsmouth Escort Flotilla, once again all River class boats.

By October 1917 the Navy List recorded that she had moved to the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

By April 1918 she carried two depth charge throwers and twenty-two charges. One of the light 12-pounders was to be converted to high angle fire and the rear torpedo tube was to be removed.

By March 1918 she had returned to Portsmouth, and the Navy List placed her in the First Destroyer Flotilla. The Escort Flotilla still existed, but was filled with Patrol Boats.

In June 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, which now also included the steam powered submarine HMS Swordfish, which had been converted into a surface patrol vessel.

In November 1918 she was one of eight destroyers in the First Destroyer Flotilla at Portsmouth, although two of the other boats were on detached duty.

Commanders
Lt & Commander Herry McL. Fraser: 7 February 1913-April 1913-
Lt & Commander: Frederic G. Schurr: 15 July 1913-January 1914-
Gerald L. Parnell: 27 February 1914-January 1915-
Conyngham C. Denison (acting); 11 January 1918-February 1919-

Displacement (standard)

550t

Displacement (loaded)

620t

Top Speed

25.5knots

Engine

7,000ihp

Range

 

Length

230ft oa
225ft pp

Width

23ft 11in

Armaments

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

Crew complement

70

Laid down

23 February 1904

Launched

20 April 1905

Completed

September 1905

Broken Up

1919

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (22 November 2019), HMS Swale (1905), http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Swale_1905.html

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