HMS Nautilus (1910-12)/ Grampus (1912-)

HMS Nautilus/ Grampus (1910) was a Beagle class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean for most of her career, taking part in the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns. She returned to home waters during 1918 to carry out anti-submarine patrols and convoy escort duties from Ireland.

In August 1910 she carried out her trials on the Maplin Sands off Shoeburyness, still named Nautilus.

HMS Grampus, Malta, c.1913-1918
HMS Grampus, Malta, c.1913-1918

After entering service the Beagle class destroyers joined the First Destroyer Flotilla, and were part of that unit until the autumn of 1911. At the time the Navy was planning to form a new Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, and there may have been some thought of filling it with the Beagles. The Seventh Flotilla was formed in November 1911, so it is possible that the Beagles were briefly part of it, before moving to the Third Flotilla early in 1912. 

In 1912-1913 all sixteen of them were part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet.

On 16 December 1912 she was renamed as the Grampus, to free up the name Nautilus for a new submarine that had just been ordered from Vickers. The new Nautilus was the largest submarine yet ordered for the Royal Navy, and the first to be given a name, but although she was ordered in 1912 she didn’t actually enter service until 1917, and was soon renamed HMS N1.

In 1913 the entire class moved to the Mediterranean, where they formed the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla.

War Service

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, then part of the Mediterranean Fleet. At this point the flotilla contained all sixteen Beagle or G Class Destroyers. G

On 27 July 1914 she was part of the Fourth Division of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla. Within the division Savage, Pincher and Rattlesnake were at Alexandria and Grampus was at Malta. However on the same day she departed from Malta to replace the Racoon off Durazzo. She joined an International Squadron along with Admiral Troubridge in HMS Defence, the French cruiser Edgar Quinet and the German cruiser Breslau, ironically as part of an international effort to support a conference being held at Scutari to try and agree the settlement of Albania. Late on 28 July the official warning telegram reached the fleet and the ships at Durazzo were recalled.

She appears to have been back at Malta by 5 August, when she was reported to be having some minor repairs done, which prevented her from accompanying the rest of the division as they escorted the Inflexible. These were completed by 7 August, when she was sent to watch the southern end of the Straits of Messina, with the Harpy and Grasshopper from the 3rd Division.

In November 1914 she wasn’t listed, but at this point the Admiralty had decided to move the Beagles back to home waters to help escort troop ships across the Channel.

Not all of the Beagles came home. The January 1918 Navy List lists eight of them – Basilisk, Grampus, Grasshopper, Mosquito, Racoon, Renard, Scorpion and Wolverine – as ‘Ships Joining Squadrons’, attached to the destroyer depot ship HMS Blenheim, which was based in the Mediterranean. By March 1918 all eight had returned to the Fifth Destroyer Squadron. In January that flotilla had contained the seven River class destroyers from the China station.

Dardanelles and Gallipoli

On 3 March she was one of four destroyers (Scorpion, Renard, Wolverine and Grampus) that took part in an attack on the Turkish guns in the straits. When the larger ships withdrew the four destroyers remained in place to support the minesweeping trawlers.

On 4 March she supported the third attempt to land troops to demolish some of the Turkish forts. The overall attack was unsuccessful, and the Scorpion, Basilisk, Renard, Wolverine and Grampus were all called on to bombard the Turkish trenches at Yeni Shehr to cover the retreat.

On 9 March she destroyed a number of boats in the Mendere river, part of an attempt to stop the Turks reoccupying the Kum Kale area.

On 16 April 1915 the submarine HMS E.15 ran aground while attempting to pass through the Dardanelles. She came under Turkish fire, her commander was killed, and the survivors forced to surrender. However the British outside the straits didn’t know that, and a series of attempts were made to reach her – either to rescue her if she was intact, or destroy her if not. The submarine B.6 made the first attempt to destroy her. On the night of 17-18 April the Scorpion and Grampus attempted to find her. They also came under heavy fire, and although they got within 1,000 yards of their target were unable to spot her.

In June 1915 she was one of twenty one destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, which now contained all sixteen G Class destroyers and five River class boats.

On 6-7 August 1915 she was one of three destroyers (Beagle, Bulldog and Grampus) that supported the disastrous landings at Suvla Bay. The landings didn’t go well, but all of the troops onboard had been landed by 12.30am on 7 August, after a long delay to recover the first landing craft.

The Grampus was awarded one battle honour, for the Dardanelles 1915-16.

Mediterranean 1916-1918

In January 1916 she was undergoing a refit at Belfast, with an uncertain completion date.

In October 1916 she was one of thirty two destroyers in the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet, which now contained the entire G class.  

In January 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Eastern Mediterranean, along with the entire G class.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty nine destroyers in the Mediterranean, along with the entire G class

In December 1917 there were six Beagle class destroyers left in the Mediterranean – Basilisk and Scorpion were with the Malta Flotilla, while Grampus, Pincher, Rattlesnake and Renard werewith the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla

In January 1918 she was one of twenty eight destroyers in the Mediterranean, one of only five G class ships left in the area. On 20 January she was undergoing a refit at Malta.

Late in 1917 the G class destroyers began to move home, to join the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla near Londonderry. The Grampus was one of the last few to remain in the Mediterranean, but by February 1918 she was listed as being shortly to arrive in Ireland.

Home Waters 1918

In June 1918 she was one of two G Glass destroyers in the large Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry. Exactly when she arrived isn’t clear, but by June those of her sisters who had been in Ireland at the start of 1918 had moved to Devonport. The Grampus spent the rest of the war with the Second Flotilla.

In November 1918 she was one of six G Class destroyers in the Second Destroyer Flotilla at Londonderry, four of her sisters having rejoined from Devonport.

By the end of the war the home based Beagles were allocated two depth charge throwers and thirty depth charges, surrendering their aft gun and torpedo tube to make space.

In November 1919 she was in the Reserve at the Nore, in the hands of a care & maintenance party. G

Career Summary
First Destroyer Flotilla: 1910-1011
Third Destroyer Flotilla, First Fleet: May 1912-October 1913
Fifth Destroyer Flotilla, Mediterranean: November 1913-January 1918-
Second Destroyer Flotilla, Buncrana, Ireland: -June-November 1918-

Displacement (standard)

945t (average)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

27 knots


3-shaft Parsons turbines
5 Yarrow boilers (most ships)




263ft 11.25in pp


26ft 10in


One 4in/ 45cal QF Mk VIII gun
Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes with four torpedoes

Crew complement


Laid down

14 April 1909


30 March 1910


September 1911

Sold for break up

September 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 (3 September 2020), HMS Nautilus (1910-12)/ Grampus (1912-) ,

Help - F.A.Q. - Contact Us - Search - Recent - About Us - Privacy