HMS Success (1901)

HMS Success (1901) was a B class destroyer that served in home waters for her entire career, and that served with the Seventh Patrol Flotilla on east coast during 1914, before being wrecked off Fife Ness on 27 December 1914.

The Success was ordered as part of the July 1898 supplement to the 1898-99 naval construction programme. She was a Doxford destroyer, and was almost identical to their earlier 30 knot destroyer HMS Lee. She was powered by coal powered Normand boilers that powered two vertical triple expansion engines. She carried the standard armament for the 30 knotters – one 12-poinder gun on the bridge platform, five 6 pounders (two on each side and one at the stern) and two 18in torpedo tubes.

HMS Success from the left
HMS Success from the left

The Success was laid down on 18 September 1899 and launched on 21 March 1901, quite a long gap for one of the 30 knot destroyers.

On Wednesday 15- Friday 17 May 1901, Wednesday 30 May 1901 and Monday 21-Tuesday 22 October 1901 she sailed from the Wear on trials trips.

On 30 October 1901, soon after the end of her builder’s trials, the Success departed from the Wear, heading for Portsmouth. Despite encountering heavy seas, she arrived on the following evening.

The Success averaged 30.224 knots on her three hour speed trial at Portsmouth and was accepted into the Royal Navy in May 1902. On her entry into service she joined the Devonport Flotilla, but at some point after that she was moved to Portsmouth, to become the Senior Officer’s ship of the Portsmouth Instructional Flotilla

On 12 July 1903 she was replaced as the Senior Officer’s ship of the Portsmouth Instructional Flotilla by HMS Arab. The Success was paid off, and her crew transferred to the Arab.

In July 1903 the Success was commissioned at Portsmouth to take part in that year’s naval manoeuvres, but was involved in a collision in the Solent and had to return to dock after suffering damage to her bows.

From 1904-5 she was part of the Portsmouth flotilla.

In 1906-1907 she was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla of the Channel Fleet.

In 1909-1912 she was part of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, one of the flotillas attached to the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. These ships were only partly manned. In 1912 she moved to the 7th Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, a patrol flotilla which had ships with a reduced complement.  

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 Success was part of the large Seventh Patrol Flotilla based at Devonport.

In August 1914 she was one of eleven destroyers from the Flotilla that had moved to its new base on the Humber (others were scattered along the east coast).

In November 1914 she was one of six destroyers from the Flotilla that were operating from No.5 Patrol Base, Yarmouth.

In November 1914, when the Germans raided Yarmouth, the Success was one of six patrol destroyers based there. Their task was to patrol the area from Cromer Knoll to Yarmouth. When the Germans attacked on 3 November the Success was just putting to sea, as part of her regular patrol duties. She put to sea at 7am, and saw the flashes of gunfire through the mist. She attempted to reach the scene, but the fighting was over by the time she was close

The Success had a short wartime career. She was wrecked off Fife Ness on 27 December 1914, hitting the Cambo Briggs rocks near Kingbarns Harbour, just to the east of St. Andrews, on her way back from a sweep into the Heligoland Bight. The location of her loss suggests that she had been transferred away from the Seventh Flotilla soon after the Yarmouth raid. Thirteen of her crew were rescued by the St. Andrews life boat, and the entire crew was saved. They then returned to her to try and refloat the ship, but failed. The hull was stripped of useful items and she was then abandoned. The Doxford 30 knotters weren’t lucky ships – her sister ship HMS Lee had been wrecked in October 1909

To 12 July 1903: Commander R.D.L. Nicholson

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots




214.5ft oa
210ft 11in pp


21ft 1in


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

Crew complement


Laid down

18 September 1899


21 March 1901


May 1902



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 (31 January 2019), HMS Success (1901) ,

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