HMS Stag (1899)

HMS Stag (1899) was a D class destroyer that served with the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla on the Firth of Forth, the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber and the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla during the First World War,

The Stag was a development of the line of 30 knot destroyers that began with HMS Desperate (1894-5) and her two sister ships. They were followed by three Coquette type destroyers, which were 5ft longer. The Stag kept the extra length and overall layout, but with modified lines. 

The Stag was one of only six destroyers ordered in the 1897-8 programme, and the only one ordered from Thornycroft.

The Thornycroft 30 knot destroyers had three boilers in two rooms, with a single boiler in the forward room and two in the rear room. The uptakes from No.1 and No.2 boilers were trunked into a single funnel. This was the same arrangement as in their 27 knot (‘A Class’) destroyers, but using more powerful larger boilers.

The Thornycroft boats followed the standard basic layout with a turtleback foredeck, leading to the conning tower, which had the bridge and 12-pounder gun platform on top. The mast was between the forward funnel and the bridge. Two 6-pounders were mounted either side of the bridge, to allow three guns to fire forwards. One 6-pounder was on the port side close to the forward funnel, and another on the starboard side close to the aft funnel. Both of the torpedo tubes were carried between the rear funnel and the final 6-pounder, close to the stern. They had two map tables - one on the bridge and one between the funnels, and at least three wheels - on the bridge, in the conning tower and right at the stern. 


The Stag was launched on Saturday 18 November 1899.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1901 published the results of her trials in 1900, giving speeds of 13.081 knots in slow speed trials and 30.156 knots and 30.345 knots in high speed trials. 

HMS Stag from the right
HMS Stag from the right

The Stag had completed her machinery trials by 6 June 1900 and began to prepare for her gunnery trials.

On 19 June 1900 she carried out a successful three hour full speed trial reaching an average speed of 30.335 knots.

In September 1900 the Stag was commissioned to replace the Salmon in the Chatham destroyer flotilla.

Until 1902 the Stag was part of the Nore Flotilla, one of three that contained all of the home based destroyers.

On 14 January 1902 the Stag carried out a steam trial in the North Sea, to prepare to join the Medway Fleet Reserve ready for active service.

From 1902 to 1911 she served with the Mediterranean Destroyer Flotilla. This was where many destroyer tactics used during the First World War were developed, as the Mediterranean destroyers had to learn how to operate with the fleet and away from their home bases for long periods of time.

In April 1903 the press reported that the Stag was almost cut in two while entering Syracuse harbour when her steering jammed and she sailed directly across the path of the cruiser Gladiator. Disaster was only averted because the Gladiator took evasive action.

Press reports weren’t always accurate. In June 1904 the press reported a telegram from Ajaccio on Corsica announcing that the Stag and Bat had collided while sailing to Ajaccio, and the Bat had sunk in deep water. However the Bat survived until 1919 when she was sold off to be broken up.

On Wednesday 23 March 1910 the Stag collided with the Mallard during a night exercise without lights. Both ships suffered damage to their prow, and had to call for help using their radios. The cruisers Bacchante and Aboukir soon arrived to offer help, and they were able to successfully tow the two destroyers to Syracuse.

From 1911 she was part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, which was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and her destroyers were only partly manned.

The January 1914 Navy List reported that she was commanded by her chief engineer William M. Park, but was under orders to be commissioned at Portsmouth to join the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla.

From 1913 she was part of the  8th Destroyer Flotilla at Chatham, one of the Patrol Flotillas.

In July 1914 the Stag was one of thirteen destroyers in the Eighth Flotilla at Chatham.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of two destroyers from the Eighth Flotilla that were based at Queensferry on the Firth of Forth.

On the afternoon of 25 September the Stag reported that two torpedoes had been fired at her from astern when she was seven miles to the south-east of May Island, but they had been fired from 2,000 yards away, and were easily evaded. The torpedoes might have been fired by U.22, which had been in the area just before this, but might have left it by the time of the incident.

In November 1914 she was part of the 1st Division Outer Patrol of the Eighth, with the task of patrolling the area between St. Abb’s Head and Gregness.

In January 1915 she was part of the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla, a patrol flotilla

In June 1915 she was one of seven destroyers in the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla at Rosyth on the Firth of Forth

In January 1916 she wasn’t listed as part of the Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of seven destroyers in the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla in the Firth of Forth.

In January 1917 she was one of seven destroyers in the Eighth Destroyer Flotilla.

In June 1917 she was the sole destroyer listed as part of the Forth Local Defence Flotilla, which was otherwise made up of torpedo boats, but she was also listed as being at Chatham undergoing a long refit. 

In January 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

In June 1918 she was one of six destroyers of the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla based at Holyhead.

In November 1918 she was one of six destroyers of the Irish Sea Hunting Flotilla based at Holyhead

In January 1920 she was listed as for sale.

Lt & Commander Frederic B. Coppin: 11 February 1911-March 1913
Lt & Commander George F.A. Mulock: 11 March-April 1913-
Chief Artif. William M . Parks: - January 1914-
Lt Cecil R. Treweek: 14 July 1917-December 1918-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots (in theory)


Four cylinder compound engines




215ft oa
208ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

16 April 1898


18 November 1899


September 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 (14 October 2019), HMS Stag (1899) ,

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