HMS Otter (1896)

HMS Otter (1986) was a C class destroyer that spent most of her career on the China station, briefly returning to active service after the outbreak of the First World War, before being sold off in 1916.

The Otter was one of three 30-knot destroyers ordered from Vickers in 1895-6. She was laid down on 9 June 1896 and launched on 23 November 1896.

On 25 January 1898 the Otter achieved a speed of 32 knots during her final speed trial, the faster yet achieved on the Clyde.

On Monday 28 February 1898 the Otter broke her main shaft during her final official trial on the Clyde and had to return to Barrow for repairs.

In 1899 the Otter took part in speed and fuel efficiency trials. She reached 30.274 knots at 6,265ihp, consuming 2.49 pounds of coal per iHP per hour and 30.071 knots at 6,077ihp

In October 1899 a crew of 43 officers and men were sent from Devonport to Barrow to bring the Otter to Plymouth. She was officially accepted into the Royal Navy in March 1900.
In the spring of 1900 it was decided to send the Otter to the Far East, in the company of the battleship Goliath. The Otter was to be paid off into the reserve on her arrival in the Far East. The Janus was sent out at the same time. She reached China by June 1900, in the middle of the Boxer uprising, so remained on active service.

On 12 November 1900 a typhoon hit Hong Kong, threatening several British warships. The Otter was used to rescue the crew of the river gunboat HMS Sandpiper, saving all but one of her crew before she sank

On 16 August 1909 one of her boiler boors blew out while she was at Wei Hai Wei. Four men were wounded, and two died over the next few days – Stoker Petty Officer Walter Henry Roberts on 17 August and Stoker William Sullivan on 18 August.

In July 1914 she wasn’t listed on the Pink List, the Admiralty’s record of warship locations.

First World War

In August and November 1914 she still wasn’t listed as being on active service.

Early in 1915 the Otter returned to active service, but she only remained in active service for a few months at Hong Kong, before she was paid off to provide seamen for more useful ships.

In June 1915 the Otter was serving on the China station.

In January 1916 she wasn’t listed.

In October 1916 she wasn’t listed.

The Otter was sold for break up in Hong Kong in October 1916.

-March 1898-: Captain Kendal
-November 1900-: Commander Wilkes

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots




80 tons of coal (Brassey, 1901, 1902)


214.25ft oa
210ft pp


20 ft


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

Crew complement

60 (Brassey, 1901, 1902)

Laid down

9 June 1896


23 November 1896


March 1900

Broken Up


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 (18 March 2019), HMS Otter (1896),

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