HMS Zephyr (1895)

HMS Zephyr was an A class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla in 1914-1917 and the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla in 1918

The Zephyr was one of two 27-knot destroyers ordered from Hanna Donald and Wilson as part of the 1893-4 programme. They were originally built with a single funnel, the only single funnel destroyers before the 1930s, but their original locomotive boilers failed to provide enough power and they were unable to reach the required 27 knots. Both had to be given new Reed water tube boilers before they entered service, and even then only reached 26 knots. The rebuilding gave them four funnels, so they never saw service with the single funnel. The failure of these ships eventually helped force Hanna Donald and Wilson out of business. It took over six years for the Zephyr to be completed, far too long for a ship of her size.

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 Career

The Zephyr was laid down on 23 April 1894 and launched on 10 May 1895.

The Zephyr underwent trials in 1900 with her new Reed boilers. She achieved a speed of 27.171 knots at 3,885ihp. In a sign of the failure of the original design, all but one of the other destroyers undergoing trials in 1900 were from the next generation of 30 knot destroyers, and she was the last of the 27-knotters to be accepted for service.

The Zephyr was accepted into the Royal Navy in July 1901.

From 1901-1905 the Zephyr was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of the three large groups that all destroyers were split between.

The Zephyr 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 Zephyr was part of Squadron C, a force of destroyers from Devonport that joined 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.

From 1905-1907 the Zephyr was still part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, but by this point the more modern destroyers had been allocated to the Channel and Atlantic Fleets. The Portsmouth Flotilla was part of the Home Fleet and its ships were in reduced commission with a nucleus crew.

From 1907-1911 the Zephyr was still with the Portsmouth Flotilla, now seen as a local defence force.

From 1911-1912 the Zephyr was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, which was split between three ports. The Zephyr was at Chatham. The 6th Destroyer Flotilla was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, and its ships were in reduced commission with a limited crew.

From 1912 the Zephyr was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

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. Charles L.M.M. Crichton in command.  

By July 1914 she was back in active commission at Sheerness/ Chatham.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, along with a large force of torpedo boats.

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

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

In January 1916 she was one of ten destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was not listed as part of the flotilla.

In January 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla. By now the flotilla also included ten P-boats, dedicated submarine chasers and a force of torpedo boats.

On 23 May 1917 the Zephyr was about half way between Felixstowe and Ostend, when at about 2pm a torpedo was fired at her, possibly by UC-64.

In June 1917 she was one of seven destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, along with the P-boats and torpedo boats.

From December 1917 she was commanded by Sub-Lt John T.S. Hall.

In January 1918 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, but was under repair. By this point the P-boats and torpedo boats were no longer with the flotilla.

During the first part of 1918 the Zephyr was briefly stranded, giving the Southend lifeboat its only call of 1918. The Zephyr was refloated safely.

During the spring of 1918 the Zephyr was moved to the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla.

On 19 May 1918 the dirigible Z-51 reported sighting a periscope below the surface west of Bardsey off the tip of the Lleyn Peninsula (North Wales). A sizable force of surface vessels soon arrived on the scene, starting with USS Patterson. The Zephyr was one of three British destroyers to arrive on the scene, but despite a series of heavy attacks no U-boat was sunk.

In June 1918 she was serving with the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla, and was one of five destroyers based at Kingstown in Ireland.

On 11 November 1918 she was one of five destroyers of the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla to be based at Kingstown.

By February 1919 she was one of a large number of ships temporarily based at the Nore.

On 10 February 1920 she was sold to Ward at Rainham to be scrapped.

Commanders
December 1917-February 1919-: Sub Lt John T.S. Hall

Displacement (standard)

275t

Displacement (loaded)

320t

Pendant No.

1914: N.86
September 1915: D.4A
January 1918: D.98

Top Speed

27 knots (contract)

Engine

Locomotive boiler as designed
Four Reed boilers after early rebuild
2 screws
4,000ihp

Range

60 tons coal capacity
1,370 miles at 11 knots

Length

204.25ft oa
200ft pp

Width

19ft

Armaments

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

Crew complement

50 (Brassey)

Laid down

23 April 1894

Launched

10 May 1895

Completed

July 1901

Sold to be 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

 

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

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 December 2018), HMS Zephyr (1895) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Zephyr_1895.html

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