HMS Viking (1909)

HMS Viking (1909) was a Tribal class destroyer that served with the Dover Patrol during the First World War, taking part in the early bombardments of the Belgian coast, surviving very serious damage after hitting a  mine early in 1916 and taking part in the battle of the Dover Straits.

The Viking was one of five Tribal class destroyers built in the 1907-8 programme, the last members of the class. The Viking was unusual in that she was the only six funnelled destroyer to serve in the Royal Navy. Other members of the Tribal class also had six boilers, but trunked the four central boilers into two larger funnels. The Viking had single funnels at the front and rear and two pairs of two funnels between them. The Viking was armed with two 4in guns and two 18in torpedo tubes.

Pre-War Career

In July 1909 the Afridi, Nubian, Crusader, Maori, Zulu and Viking were all ordered to join the First Destroyer Division as soon as they were commissioned, to replace River class boats.

HMS Viking from the right
HMS Viking from the right

On Monday 16 May 1910 the Viking collided with the Shields tug Triton in a fog, which at the time had a pleasure party onboard. Ironically the Viking was at sea for steering trials at the time! The tug was sunk and her twenty passengers rescued by the Viking. Nobody was killed, but several of the passengers were injured. Amongst the injured were a councillor from Tynemouth and a tug owner  

The Viking served with the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet, from June 1910. Five of the Tribal class destroyers joined the flotilla in 1909, and two in 1910.

In 1911-1912 she was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet. The flotilla contained all twelve Tribal class destroyers.

In 1912-1914 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. She was fully manned in this role. The Flotilla was made up of all twelve Tribal class destroyers and eighteen Acasta or K class destroyers

During 1913 the Viking was one of four Tribal class destroyers temporarily moved to the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, after its existing ships were moved to the Mediterranean to form the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty three destroyers in the Sixth Patrol Flotilla at Portsmouth, made up of a mix of Tribal class and old 30-knotters.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of fifteen destroyers from the Sixth Flotilla that had moved to its war base at Dover, where the flotilla was part of the Dover Patrol.

On 20 October 1914 the Amazon and the Viking were part of a flotilla bombarding German positions on the Yser River. One of the Viking’s 4in guns burst and she was forced to retire disabled.

In November 1914 she was part of the Sixth Flotilla

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

One of her roles in this period was to guard the Dover Barrage, a minefield that was meant to block the eastern entrance to the English Channel. In late February the Viking and Afridi were posted to the north-east of the barrage, to force any submarines attempting to pass the barrage to dive. Early on 20 February the Viking spotting one of the indicator buoys moving at 5mph, and assumed that it was being towed by an enemy submarine. The Viking couldn’t stop to deploy her sweep, so she called for assistance from the Afridi. The buoys eventually sank, then reappeared. One sweep and nine TNT charges were exploded, but when the nets were pulled out of the sea, nothing to indicate a submarine had hit them was found.

On 4 March 1915 the Viking spotted U 8. The submarine dived, and the Viking missed her with her anti-submarine sweep. However later in the day HMS Maori spotted her periscope, allowing the Ghurka to deploy her sweep. The sweep’s explosive charge was detonated and U 8 surfaced and surrendered.

In June 1915 she was one of part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, which contained all but one of the Tribal class ships and a large number of the older 30-knotters..

The Viking was part of the support forces for the bombardment of Zeebrugge on 23 August 1915, operating alongside the Ghurka as Destroyer Patrol No.5.

In September 1915 the Viking was part of a fleet that was to attack Ostend and Westende. She formed part of No.1 T.B.D. Patrol, itself part of Division I, which once again was built around a number of monitors. The attack itself took place on 7 September 1915, and only caused limited damage.

On the night of 8 September 1915 the Leven collided with a troop transport and suffered heavy damage. She was later found drifting towards Boulogne by the Viking, who took her in tow stern-first and got her back to Dover (with help from the destroyer Tartar and the tug Lady Crundall).

On 19 September 1915 the Viking took part in another bombardment of the Belgian coast. This time the Marshal Ney suffered engine problems, and the Viking had to tow her to safety.

On 6 October 1915 the paddle minesweeper Brighton Queen hit a mine laid by UC.5. She broke in half and sank quickly, but 34 of her crew of 41 survived. The four worst wounded were taken to a hospital at Dunkirk, while the Viking took the other survivors back to Dover.

In January 1916 she was one of fifteen destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

HMS Viking on fire
HMS Viking on fire

Mine damage to HMS Viking
Mine damage to HMS Viking

On 29 January 1916 the Viking hit a mine in the Dover Straits, suffering nine dead and eight wounded. One of the dead was Harold Courtenay Tennyson, grandson of the famous post Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the third son of Hallam Tennyson, who had served as governor-general of Australia. In 1917 Hallam founded the Harold Tennyson Memorial Prize, which rather fittingly was to reward the Cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, who scored the highest mark in an exam on English Literature.

The mine had been laid by an unidentified U-boat off Boulogne. The Viking was described as looking like she had been crushed by a giant hand, with her stern only connected to the rest of the ship by the propeller shafts. Even so she remained afloat, was towed to Chatham and repaired.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty five destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

During 1916 the Viking was given a 6in Mk VII BL gun to see if the Tribal class destroyers could cope with the heavier gun. This was removed late in 1916 after the trials were completed, and she was given two 4in QF Mk V guns instead and 2 2-pounder pom poms.

In late October 1916 the Germans carried out a raid into the Dover Straits. The British were expecting some sort of attack, but had no information about its target, so Admiral Bacon left six Tribal class destroyers, including the Viking, at Dover to act as a striking force. The raid itself began on 26 October, and at 10.50pm the Tribal class destroyers were ordered to sea.

The Tribal flotilla didn’t perform particularly well during the raid. Its commander, on the Viking, decided to send them out of Dover by two entrances, and the two sub-divisions didn’t find each other for the rest of the night. The Viking, Mohawk and Tartar stayed together, and early on 27 October sighted the Germans. However Commander Oliphant, on the Viking, wasn’t sure if they were friend of foe and issued the standard identification challenge. The Germans responded by steaming past the starboard side of the British formation and opening fire. The Mohawk was hit, and her helm hammed. Her commander decided to fall out of the formation to port, and the Tartar followed. The Viking attempted to follow the Germans, but almost ran into the Mohawk and had to take evasive action. Once the confusion was sorted out, the Viking attempted to find the Germans, but without success.

In January 1917 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla.

On 25 February 1917 the Germans carried out a destroyer raid on the Downs. The Viking was the flagship of the ‘stand-by’ destroyers at Dover, but although they were soon at sea, they failed to find anything, and returned to port at 6.30am on the following day.

When the Germans attacked again on 17-18 March she was once again at sea, but again didn’t encounter the enemy.

In June 1917 she was one of active twenty nine destroyers in the Sixth Flotilla, which had been enlarged with a number of more modern ships.

In January 1918 she was part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, now with over forty destroyers, although ten were undergoing repairs. The Viking was away from the normal base, and was at Portsmouth.

The Viking was damaged in a collision in the Channel on 3 February 1918 and four men were killed.

In June 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla.

In September 1918 all of the surviving Tribal class ships were given a part of two 14 torpedo-tubes mounted at the break of the forecastle, for use in close range combat.

In November 1918 she was one of seventeen destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

By February 1919 she was listed as part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in the Navy List.

In July 1919 the Admiralty ordered that the Tribal class destroyers Afridi, Cossack, Saracen, Tartar, Viking and Zubian should all be sold out of the Royal Navy as being no longer required for service.

By December 1919 she was listed as ‘To be Sold’ in the Navy List.

The Viking was awarded one battle honour, for the Belgian Coast in 1914-15.

Commanders
Lt & Commander Robert G. Hammond: 15 December 1910-January 1914-
Commander Edward R.G.R. Evans: 3 December 1914-January 1915-
-29 January 1916: Commander Thomas C. H. Williams (KIA)
Lt in Command Edward T.W. Church: April 1918-February 1919-

Displacement (standard)

1,090t

Displacement (loaded)

1,200t

Top Speed

33 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons steam turbines
6 Yarrow boilers
14,000shp

Range

 

Length

280ft 2.75in

Width

27ft 5in

Armaments

Two 4in/ 45cal BL Mk VI
Two 18in Torpedo Tubes

Crew complement

68

Laid down

11 June 1908

Launched

14 September 1909

Completed

June 1910

Sold

1919

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 (9 July 2020), HMS Viking (1909) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Viking_1909.html

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