HMS Mohawk (1907)

HMS Mohawk (1907) was a Tribal class destroyer that served with the Dover Patrol during the First World War, where she survived being mined and was damaged during the battle of the Dover Straits. She ended the war with the X Submarine Flotilla, on the Tees

The Mohawk was one of five Tribal class destroyers that were ordered in the 1905-6 programme.

HMS Mohawk from the right
HMS Mohawk
from the right

The Mohawk differed from the standard Tribal class boats by having a turtleback forecastle, similar to those used on the earlier 30-knotters and abandoned on the River class boats. However her sea keeping was so poor in this configuration (she was very wet and rolled badly) that she was re-built with a high forecastle in 1908, making her look similar to the standard Tribal class boats. She did reach 34.916 knots on her trials, so speed wasn’t a problem. Her builders (White) didn’t repeat their mistake on their next Tribal class destroyer, the Saracen.

She had four funnels, with the first and last narrow and the middle two wider. At first the forward funnel on the four funnel boats was too low, pouring smoke onto the bridge, but they were later raised to try and reduce the problem.

The Mohawk was built with three 12-pounder quick firing guns. In 1909 she was given another pair of guns, giving her a total of five.

In November 1907 Mohawk reached an average speed of 34.25 knots during her six hour trials, making her the fastest naval ship in the world. On the measured mile she averaged 34.5 knots, and the press make a great deal of fuss of her having a top speed of 40 miles per hour.

Pre-War Career

In 1908-1909 the Mohawk was one of four Tribal class destroyers that served with the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet. This was the main battle fleet at the time, and its destroyers were all fully manned.

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

On Sunday March 6 1910 the Mohawk and the Crusader escorted the King on the Royal Yacht Alexandra as he moved from Dover to Calais at the start of a trip to Paris and Biarritz.

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

In May 1912 the Mohawk was one of four Tribal class destroyers that arrived in Manchester after steaming up the Ship Canal. They were on public display and their crews entertained by the Corporation.

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.

The Mohawk was one of the destroyers used to escort the 7th Division as it crossed to France early in October 1914. None of the transport ships were attacked, but the Mohawk reported being attacked by a U-boat during the crossing. She spotted the U-boat at 8.25pm on 6 October near the South Goodwin Light, while it was still close to the surface with her conning tower awash. The Mohawk turned towards the submarine and opened fire, but without success. The U-boat submerged and fired a torpedo which passed under the destroyer’s stern.

In November 1914 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, and had been equipped with a modified sweep.

On 18 October 1914 the Mohawk took part in an operation to support the Belgian and French armies on the Yser River. The force was led by a mix of light cruisers and monitors, supported by the destroyers of the Sixth Flotilla. The force came under heavy artillery fire but the Mohawk was undamaged.

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

On 11 February 1915 the Maori and the Mohawk were used to support a large air raid on German targets along the Belgian coast. They took up position near the normal position of the Wandelaar Light Vessel, to act as rescue ships if any of the seaplanes involved got in trouble. The two destroyers were within sight of the coast, and German guns opened fire but didn’t have the range to hit. During the afternoon a series of German seaplanes attacked the two destroyers. At one point the Mohawk’s steering gear broke down, leaving her vulnerable to attack, especially as neither destroyer had any anti-aircraft guns. On this occasion no damage was done.

On 4 March 1915 the Ghurka, Syren, Mohawk and Ure were standing by at Dover when a submarine was detected in the line of nets blocking the channel. They were all ordered out to sea, but the Mohawk didn’t come into contact with the U-boat. Ghurka was luckier, and used her sweep to force U-8 to the surface, where she had to surrender.

In April 1915 the Mohawk was used to collect the results of the Venerable’s gun calibration, carried out off Maplin Sands. The Mohawk had to be sent to Southend Pier to pick up the results and bring them back to the fleet.

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. She was undergoing repairs at Chatham.

On 1 June 1915 the Mohawk was damaged by a mine in the Dover Straits and five of her crewmen were killed (three engine room artificers and two stokers). She had run into the first U-boat laid mines laid by the Flanders based UC-boats (in this case by UC-11). Her crew spotted the mines before hitting them, but were unable to avoid them because of a strong tide flowing to the east. The Mohawk was towed back into Dover with her upper deck almost level with the sea.

In January 1916 she was paid off at Chatham while undergoing repairs, which were expected to be complete by 31 March.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty five destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, which was largely filled with Tribal class boats and older 30-knotters.

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 Mohawk, 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 jammed. 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.

By 1917 most of the early Tribal class destroyers had had their 12-pounder guns replaced, but the Mohawk retained all five. Her stern gun had been placed into a tub, suggesting it might have been turned into an anti-aircraft gun. She still had both torpedo tubes and had a single .303in Maxim anti-aircraft machine gun.

On 11 February 1917 the Mohawk came to the assistance of SS Woodfield, which had been torpedoed by U-C-66, but stayed afloat. The Mohawk and a number of tugs were able to tow the Woodfield into Newhaven.

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.

The October 1917 Navy List still placed her with the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, but in the November 1917 Navy List she had been moved to the X Submarine Flotilla, on the Tees.

In January 1918 she was one of two destroyers supporting the X Submarine Flotilla on the Tees.

In June 1918 she was one of two destroyers supporting the X Submarine Flotilla on the Tees.

In September 1918 all of the surviving Tribal class ships were given a pair 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 two destroyers supporting the X Submarine Flotilla on the Tees.

By February 1919 she was one of a large group of destroyers that were temporarily based on the Nore.

The Mohawk received one battle honour, for operations off the Belgian Coast in 1915-16

Commander Cyril Asser: -7 March 1910-
Lt & Commander Bruce L. Owen: 1 February 1912-January 1914-
Lt in Command Harold D. Adair-Hall: 3 December 1914-January 1915-
Lt-Commander H.S. Braddyll: -26 October 1916-
Lt Commander Cuthbert P. Blake: October 1917-December 1918-
Ch Artif Eng Wallace O’Sullivan: - February 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

33 knots


3-shaft Parsons steam turbines
6 White-Foster boilers




270ft pp




Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt QF
Two 18in Torpedo Tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

1 May 1906


15 March 1907


June 1908



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 (21 May 2020), HMS Mohawk (1907) ,

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