HMS Fervent (1895)

HMS Fervent was an A class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla and was still active enough in 1918 for her commander to win the DSC.

HMS Fervent at sea
HMS Fervent at sea

The Fervent 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 six years for her to be completed, far slower than was reasonable.

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 Fervent was laid down on 27 March 1894 and launched on 20 March 1895.

In 1899 the Fervent took part in speed and fuel efficiency trials. She reached 26.730 knots at 4,085 ihp, and on a low speed run 10.128 knots at 227ihp at 1.860 pounds of coal per hour.

The Fervent was accepted into the Navy in 1900, after her speed problems were solved.

Until 1902 the Fervent was part of the Devonport Flotilla, one of the three large flotillas that contained all home-based destroyers.

The Fervent 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 Fervent 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 1902-1905 the Fervent was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, another of the three big destroyer flotillas.

In February 1903 one of the Fervent’s boilers was damaged by an explosion, forcing her to return to Portsmouth. Nobody was injured in the explosion.

During 1905 she was part of the 1st Division of the Channel Fleet, the main home-based battle fleet, built around twelve battleships.

From 1906-1909 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, part of the Home Fleet, made up of older ships with a reduced complement.

On 13 December 1910 Lt Herbert Edward Christian Whyte was found guilty at court martial of negligence when he allowed the Fervent to be stranded on Maplin Sands, damaging her propellers.

From 1911 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and was based at Chatham. This was part of the 3rd and 4th Divisions of the Home Fleet, effectively the reserve, and with a reduced complement.

From 1912 she 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

First World War

By July 1914 she was back in active commission at Sheerness/ Chatham, one of twelve destroyers based there.

In August 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla. These flotillas had fairly active wars, hunting for submarines reported in the local area, escorting shipping, patrolling, searching for mines and carrying out rescues, but sadly few of the details are now easy to find. In the case of the Fervent we know she was still active in 1918, as her commanding officer at the time was awarded the DSC for services in Local Defence Flotillas, but the exact details are obscure.

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

On 17-18 November 1915 the Fervent was one of nine Royal Naval ships that helped with the salvage of SS Athamas. In September 1917 her crew was awarded naval salvage money for their efforts.

On 26 February 1915 she was escorting a fleet auxiliary when they were attacked by two German aircraft two miles to the west of the Sunk Light Vessel, although neither ship suffered any damage.

In June 1915 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, now reduced to eleven destroyers, although with sixteen torpedo boats.

On 9 June 1915 she was fired at by a German U-boat while searching for a submarine that was known to be in the area.

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

In October 1916 she was one of eight destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla. She was now serving alongside nine P boats, small purpose-built submarine chasers and fourteen torpedo boats.

From 29 July 1916 she was commanded by Lt Frank J. Couldrey.

In January 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1917 she was one of seven destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1918 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, although two were undergoing repairs.

In June 1918 she was one of only six destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla. The P boats had also gone, but there were now thirteen torpedo boats.

Lt Couldrey, her commanding officer, was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for services in Local Defence Flotillas between 1 January and 30 June 1918.

On 11 November 1918 she was one of six destroyers with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, along with the thirteen torpedo boats

By February 1919 she was one of a large number of ships temporarily based at the Nore, as the Navy returned to a peacetime footing.

On 29 April 1920 she was sold to Ward at Rainham to be scrapped

-December 1910-: Lt Herbert Edward Christian Whyte
29 July 1916-February 1919-: Lt Frank J. Couldrey, DSC

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Pendant Nos.

1914: N.17
September 1915: D.97
January 1918: D.39

Top Speed

27 knots (contract)


Locomotive boiler as designed
Four Reed boilers after early rebuild
2 screws


70 tons coal capacity
1,370 miles at 11 knots

Armour - belt


 - deck



204.25ft oa
200ft pp




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

Crew complement

50 (Brassey)

Laid down

27 March 1894


20 March 1895


June 1900

Sold to be Broken Up

May 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 (17 December 2018), HMS Fervent (1895) ,

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