HMS Nepean (1916)

HMS Nepean (1916) was a repeat M class destroyer that served with the Grand Fleet from 1916 to March 1918, then with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport for the rest of the war.

The Nepean was ordered as part of the Second War Programme of early November 1914. She was laid down at Thornycroft in February 1915, launched on 22 January 1916 and completed in March 1916.


The Nepean served with the 13th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet from May 1916 to March 1918.

On the eve of Jutland the Nepean was with the Thirteenth Destroyer Flotilla that was with the battlecruiser fleet at Rosyth, but she remained in harbour.


On 15 April 1917 the Nepean salvaged the trawler Breadalbane.

On 30 April a submarine fired a torpedo at the Nepean while she was close to May Island (probably UC-77).  

HMS Nepean, Inchkeith, 1917 HMS Nepean, Inchkeith, 1917

On 3 May the cruisers Sydney and Dublin and the destroyers Nepean, Pelican, Pylades and Obdurate left Rosyth to sweep two of cleared channels in the coastal minefields. On the morning of 4 May this force encountered the Zeppelin L.43, and the two cruisers opened fire on her. The Zeppelin wasn’t operating alone, and the British soon sighted U-boats. The British turned to the north-west to avoid being drawn onto a possible trap. The Zeppelin followed. At 11.50 the Nepean and Pelican were ordered to move around to the south-west, and the British soon had the airship surrounded. However neither side was able to inflict damage – the Germans dropped several bombs but all missed, and the British were unable to score any hits with their gunnery.

On 25 July the Grenville, Obdurate, Pelican, Nepean and Orpheus were escorting a convoy of five empty oilers heading from Scapa Flow to Texas when it was attacked by UC-41. The U-boat was able to sink the SS Oakleaf, although the entire crew were rescued.

When the Germans attacked a Scandinavian convoy on 16 October, sinking the destroyers Mary Rose and Strongbow, the Nepean was one of four destroyers from the 13th Flotilla that were allocated to the 1st Cruiser Squadron at Rosyth. The squadron, made up of the Courageous and Glorious (in their original battlecruiser form) was sent to try and catch the Germans as they retreated after the battle, but without success.

During the Second battle of Heligoland Bight (17 November 1917) the Nepean was at sea with the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron, but her formation never reached the battle.


From April-December 1918 she served with the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport.

In December 1919 she was in the charge of a Care and Maintenance Party on the Nore.

She was sold to be broken up in November 1921.

Service Record
May 1916-March 1918: 13th Destroyer Flotilla, Grand Fleet
April 1918-December 1918: 4th Destroyer Flotilla, Devonport

Displacement (standard)

1,025t (Admiralty design)
985t (Thornycroft)
895t (Yarrow)

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

35 knots at 26,500shp


3-shaft turbines




274ft 3in (Thornycroft)


27ft 3in (Thornycroft)


Three 4in/ 45cal QF Mk IV
Two 1-pounder pom pom
One 2-pounder pom pom
Four 21-in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

February 1915


22 January 1916


March 1916

Sold for break up

November 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 (3 October 2023), HMS Nepean (1916) ,

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