HMS Oak (1912)

HMS Oak was a member of the Firedrake group of Yarrow specials in the Acheron class of destroyers, and served as the tender to the flagship of the Grand Fleet during the First World War.

HMS Oak was laid down at Yarrow on 6 July 1911, launched on 5 September 1912 and commissioned in November 1912

In July-August 1914 she was attached to the First Fleet, the main battleship force in the Home Fleet.

At the start of the war the Oak was directly attached to the Commander-in-Fleet of the Grand Fleet. In this role she was painted white, instead of the normal warship grey.

HMS Oak from the left HMS Oak from the left

On 29-30 July 1914, with the outbreak of war increasingly likely, the Grand Fleet, still under the command of Sir George Warrender, passed through the straits of Dover, and turned north heading towards Scapa Flow. On 30 July the Iron Duke and Oak put into Queensferry, before joining the rest of the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow on the following day. Almost immedatialy after this Warrender was replaced as commander in chief by Sir John Jellicoe. The Oak remained at his disposal.

When the fleet was at sea near their base at Scapa Flow one of the Oak’s duties was to carry the commander-in-chief’s daily report of events to the mainland.

One early concern was that the Germans might seize the Shetlands to use as a base. In November the Germans planned to send U.16 and U.18 to the Shetlands to search for any British ships in the area. Part of the 2nd Destroyer Division was sent to the Shetlands to guard against them, while the Oak was posted at Fair Island, to hunt for any submarines in that area.

The Oak was with the flagship Iron Duke at sea during the battle of Dogger Bank (24 January 1915), although the main battle fleet wasn’t involved in the battle.

On 11 June 1915 the Grand Fleet put to sea to carry out battle and firing exercises. The Oak was used to escort the collier Ford Castle during these exercises.

The Oak fought at Jutland, serving as a destroyer tender to the fleet flagship HMS Iron Duke. She sailed with the main battlefleet.

On 5 June 1916 the Oak was used to transport Lord Kitchener to meet with Jellicoe and the flag officers of the fleet at Thurso. Soon afterwards he left on the cruiser HMS Hampshire which was to take him to Russia, but the cruiser was sunk by a mine on the voyage and Kitchener drowned. In the aftermath of the disaster the Oak was sent to search the coast nearest to the sinking, but didn’t find any survivors.

On 14 June 1916 the Oak transported King George V from Thurso to Scapa Flow for a visit to the fleet.

In December 1916 Admiral Beatty replaced Admiral Jellicoe as Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet. The Oak remained attached to his flagship.

On 15 November 1918 the Oak was used to transport the German naval delegation, led by Rear-Admiral Hugo Meurer, that had been sent to discuss the terms of the German naval surrender from the cruiser Konigsberg, which had transported them to May Island, to Beatty’s flagship in the Forth.

On 20 November the Oak carried King George V, Queen Mary and the Prince of Wales as they steamed through the fleet.

In November 1919 she was in the hands of a care and maintenance party in the Devonport reserve. She was sold to be broke up in May 1921.

The Oak was awarded battle honours for Jutland

Lt-Comm D. Faviell: -30 May 1916-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

32 knots (Firedrake Type)


3-shaft Parsons turbines
3 Yarrow boilers




246ft oa


25ft 8in


Two 4in BL Mk VIII guns
Two 12-pounder/ 12cwt guns
Two 21in torpedo tubes

Crew complement


Laid down

6 July 1911


5 September 1912


November 1912

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 (25 November 2021), HMS Oak (1912) ,

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