HMS Cockatrice (1912)

HMS Cockatrice (1912) was an Acasta class destroyer that served with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, but missed Jutland, then moved to the Humber Force, then the south coast, before ending the war with the Northern Force at Dundee.

The Cockatrice was laid down at Hawthorn on 23 October 1910, launched on 8 November 1912 and commissioned in March 1913. When the Acasta class became the K Class the new name Kingfisher was chosen for her, but it was never used.

In July 1914 she was one of twenty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla of the First Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. The flotilla contained all twenty Acasta or K Class destroyers.

HMS Cockatrice from the left HMS Cockatrice from the left

In August 1914 she was one of twenty K destroyers in the Fourth Flotilla of what was becoming the Grand Fleet. At the outbreak of war all but the Porpoise were at sea. Over the next two years five members of the class were sunk, while the surviving members of the class remained with the Flotilla into July 1916.

On 11 December 1914 the Cockatrice was on patrol in very bad weather. She was forced to run for shelter, and suffered some damage on the way to safety.

In January 1916 nineteen K class destroyers were in the Fourth Flotilla, based at Scapa. She had been equipped with a modified sweep.

In April 1916 Admiral Jellicoe asked for eight of the class to have one of their 4in guns converted to a high angle gun by placing it on a trap door that could tilt up to fifty degrees. The Cockatrice was one of the ships selected to be converted.

On the eve of Jutland the Cockatrice was part of the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Scapa Flow, but she was in dockyard hands.

In August 1916 the Fourth Flotilla was relegated from the Grand Fleet after suffering heavy losses at Jutland, and now formed the Humber Force. It contained fifteen of the K class destroyers.

On 8 November the Cockatrice came out from Portland and joined the Martin, Brisk and Unity from Devonport on a sweep in the Channel. On 10 November they passed fairly close to a  submarine that was attacking the steamer Channel Trader, but without noticing the incident.

On 28 November a submarine clashed with the armed trawler Gavina. The Cockatrice, Contest and Spitfire were sent out from Portsmouth to hunt the U-boat but without success.

On 29 November the Christopher, Cockatrice, Hardy and Midge were hunting submarines in the Portsmouth area, but without success.

In December 1916 the Cockatrice and the Fourth Flotilla moved again, and was now based at Portsmouth. It had also been reduced in size once again, and now contained ten K class destroyers (and the light cruiser HMS Active). The remaining five members of the class moved to the Sixth Flotilla at Dover.

On 1 January 1917 the Cockatrice and Garland were sent to hunt for a submarine that had been reported off Trevose Head by an unknown ship, but found nothing and were back at port by 2 January.

At the start of 1917 German submarines disrupted the shipping route from Portugal to France, threatening the movement of Portuguese troops. The Cockatrice, Garland, Midge and Owl arrived at Lisbon on 27 January and were used to patrol the route while three troop transports steamed to France.

In March 1917 the Fourth Flotilla moved to Devonport. It now contained ten Acasta class destroyers and six Laforey or L class destroyers. In April the five ships from Dover rejoined the flotilla at Devonport.

On 6 July the Cockatrice was escorting part of Convoy HH4, the fourth trans-Atlantic convoy to leave the US in June, when the SS Karroo was the target of a torpedo which missed. The Cockatrice dropped five depth charges on the submarine, UB-32, but without success.

On 19 October 1917 the ocean escort Bostonian was sunk while she was reorganised Convoy HH25. The Cockatrice rescued 105 of her crew, and only for men were lost.

In January 1918 she was one of forty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Plymouth, which was now made up of a mix of various types.

Early in 1918 she lost both of her torpedo tubes and gained more depth charges, including a rail with twenty charges and several throwers with four charges each.

In June 1918 she was one of fifty destroyers in the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, made up of a mix of types.

In November 1918 she was one of three K class destroyers in the Northern Patrol Force at Dundee.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Portsmouth Reserve. She was sold to be broken up in May 1921.

War Service
August 1914-July 1916: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
August-November 1916: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Humber Force
December 1916-January 1917: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Portsmouth
March-August 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport
November-December 1918: Northern Patrol Force

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

29 knots


2-shaft Parsons turbines
4 Yarrow boilers




267ft 6in




Three 4in/ 45cal BL Mk VIII
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down

23 October 1910


8 November 1912


March 1913

Sold for break up

May 1921

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 (20 January 2022), HMS Cockatrice (1912),

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