HMS Panther (1897)

HMS Panther (1897) was a B class destroyer that served in the Mediterranean and Home Waters before the First World War, and with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber from 1914-17, then the Nore Local Defence Flotilla and finally the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

HMS Panther from the left
HMS Panther from the left

The Panther was ordered as part of the second batch of Laird-built 30-knot destroyers. Like the first batch, the second batch of Laird 30-knotters were enlarged versions of their 27-knotters (HMS Banshee, HMS Contest and HMS Dragon), which were in turn enlarged version of their first generation destroyer prototypes (HMS Ferret and HMS Lynx). They had four Normand boilers in two stokeholds, with the uptakes at each end, the boilers next to them and the working space in the middle. The engine room was placed between the fore and aft stokeholds. The 30-knotters used four cylinder triple expansion engines, with two low pressure cylinders. They were criticized in service for their large turning circles, but were considered to be strongly built. All six served throughout the First World War.

One torpedo tube was carried between the second and third funnels, and the second between the rear funnel and the aft 6-pounder gun. They were built with a chart table and compass platform between the first and second funnels and a chart table on the 12-pounder platform.

Pre-War Career

The Panther was laid down on 19 May 1896 and launched on 21 January 1897.

On Thursday 8 July 1897 she averaged a speed of 30.57 knots over six runs on the measured mile at Skelmorlie during her coal consumption trials, and 30.17 knots over three hours. Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1898 gave a speed of 30.16 knots for the three hour trial.

The Panther was accepted into the Royal Navy in January 1898.

In May 1900 one of her crewmen, J. Keane, drowned during a visit to Birkenhead during a training cruise.

In April 1901 she was one of eight destroyers from the Devonport command that paid a visit to Manchester, travelling to the city up the Ship Canal. As would be expected, there was a great deal of public interest in the visit, and crowds came to watch the ships as the moved up the canal, and as they were moored in Manchester.

Until 1902 the Panther was part of the Devonport Flotilla, one of the three flotillas that contained all of the home-based destroyers.

The Panther took part in the 1900 naval manoeuvres, when she formed part of the Devonport division of Fleet B, the defensive fleet. Fleet A was smaller, but was expecting reinforcements from the Mediterranean, suggesting that the potential enemy at this stage was France.

The Panther took part in the 1901 naval manoeuvres, which began in late July. These involved two fleets – Fleet B began in the North Sea, and had the task of keeping the English Channel open to trade. Fleet X began off the north coast of Ireland, and had the task of stopping trade in the Channel. The Panther was part of Squadron C, a force of destroyers from Devonport that joined Fleet B. This was the first time both sides in the annual exercises had been given an equal force of destroyers. The exercises ended with a victory for Fleet X. The destroyer forces didn’t live up to expectations, either in torpedo attack or as scouts.

From 1902 to 1906 she served with the Mediterranean Destroyer Flotilla, where many of the techniques of destroyer operations were developed.

In 1906-1907 the Panther was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Channel Fleet, increasingly seen as the main part of the British battle fleet as Germany replaced France as a possible enemy.

In 1907-1909 the Panther was part of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet, based at the Nore with a full complement.

In 1909-1912 she was part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport. This was part of the 3rd and 4th Divisions of the Home Fleet, and she had a reduced complement.

From 1912 she was with the 7th Destroyer Flotilla, still at Devonport. This was one of the newly formed Patrol Flotillas, removing her from the main battle fleet.

In July 1914 she was part of the Seventh Patrol Flotilla at Devonport, part of the Second Fleet of the Home Fleet.

First World War

In July 1914 the Panther was part of the large Seventh Patrol Flotilla, based at Portsmouth.

In August 1914 the flotilla was moved to the Humber, but its ships were scattered along the east coast, watching out for any German raids or invasion forces. The Panther and the Vixen were based at Gorleston, on the east coast of Norfolk. The flotilla’s wartime role was to patrol the east coast, search for submarines and mines, escort individual ships and react to any potential threat. Ships in the flotilla had a busy but often rather undocumented war.

In November 1914 the Panther had been moved north, to No.3 Patrol Base, Grimsby, where she was serving alongside the Dove, Thorn and four torpedo boats, still as part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla.

In June 1915 the Panther was one of ten destroyers from the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla based on the Humber.

In January 1916 the Panther was based on the Humber as part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, and had just completed repairs.

In October 1916 the Panther was one of nineteen destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla and was based on the Humber.

In January 1917 the Panther was one of eighteen destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

In June 1917 the Panther was about to move from the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla to the Nore Local Defence Flotilla, as part of a general reorganisation of the forces on the east coast.

In January 1918 the Panther was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1918 the Panther was part of the massive Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, but she was one of twelve destroyers in the flotilla then undergoing repairs.

In November 1918 the Panther was still under repair at Dover.

By February 1919 she was one of a large number of destroyers temporarily based at Portsmouth.

The Panther was sold for break up in June 1920.

-April 1901-: Lt and Commander A.K. Macrorie

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots






218ft oa
213ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

 19 May 1896


21 January 1897


January 1898

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 (15 January 2019), HMS Panther (1897) ,

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