HMS Violet (1897)

HMS Violet (1897) was a C class destroyer that served with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in 1914-1917, East Coast Convoys in 1917, briefly with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla and then with the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover in 1918.

Doxford built two destroyers in the 1896-7 programme, their first 30 knotters. They had four boilers in two stokeholds, with the uptakes from No 2 and No 3 boilers trunked into a single funnel.

HMS Violet at speed
HMS Violet at speed

The Violet carried out her second trial run on Friday 21 May 1897.

On Tuesday 9 November 1897 a navigating part left Portsmouth heading to Sunderland to collect the Violet and sail her back to Portsmouth for her official trials.

The Violet reached Portsmouth at the end of her delivery voyage from Sunderland on Friday 12 November 1897.

On Thursday 25 November 1897 the Violet left port for a steam trial, but after one run on the measured mile, where she reached 30 knots, she was forced back to port by thick fog.

On Thursday 10 February 1898 she attempted her second contracted trial, a three hour run at 30 knots. After keeping up the required speed for an hour and a half one of her bearings overheated and the test had to be abandoned.

On Wednesday 23 February 1898 she carried out a 12 hour coal consumption trial, consuming just under 2lb of coal per ihp per hour at 13 knots.

On Thursday 2 March 1898 she had another go at the three hour trial, but after an hour and a half she developed a problem with one of her valves and had to abandon the attempt.

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1898 reported that she had achieved an average speed of 30.16 knots during her three hour trial, where her engines had produced 6,630ihp at 381rpm.

Pre-war career

By 29 October 1898 she was described as one of the ships ‘practically ready for sea’ I the ‘A Division’ or the Reserve Fleet at Portsmouth.

On 3 March 1898 she was commissioned with the crew of the Starfish, which had just been paid off.

The Violet took part in the 1899 naval manoeuvres, where she formed part of the ‘B’ flotilla, attached to the Reserve Fleet (Fleet ‘B’). The aim of this exercise was to see if a powerful but slow squadron of warships could defend a convoy against a faster but less powerful attacking force. The Violet was part of the slower, stronger, force. At the end of July she was chased into Port Erin on the Isle of Man, leaving on the following day.

HMS Violet in Victorian Livery HMS Violet in Victorian Livery

On Monday 20 November 1899 the Violet collided with the Star at Portsmouth, after escorting the German Emperor to Britain. The Violet hit the Star, knocking a hole in her port side. The Violet also suffered damage to her rudder, and was actually the more seriously damaged of the two.

The Violet took part in the 1900 naval manoeuvres, when she formed part of the Portsmouth 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.

On Wednesday 25 July 1900 the Violet collided with the Flirt in a fog, while both were serving with the Third Division of Fleet B. The Violet had to go into the dry dock at Pembroke Dockyard for repair which took about a week.

On 26 November 1900 the Violet was paid off. On the following day her crew and commander (Lieutenant and Commander A.B. Barker) commissioned HMS Vulture.

The Violet 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 Violet was part of a force of destroyers from Portsmouth 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.

The Violet was forced to return to port on 5 August 1901 after suffering from problems with her boiler tubes. Two of the tube exploded, leaving her with only one working boiler. Luckily nobody was injured in the incident.

In July 1903 the Violet collided with the Success, while they were leaving port to take part in that year’s naval manoeuvres. The Success’s bows were badly twisted, and she had to return to port.

On Sunday 9 August 1903 the Violet fouled the destroyer Flirt while off the Scilly Islands. The Flirt had to slip anchor to avoid serious damage, and divers were later used to recover the lost anchor.

On Saturday 21 November 1903 the Violet fouled the gunboat Ant. The Ant was undamaged, but the Violet’s bows were badly twisted and she had to put back into Portsmouth.

At first the damage to the Violet was believed to be so serious that she would have to be decommissioned while repairs were carried out, but by 27 November she had been commissioned to replace HMS Shark in the Portsmouth Destroyer Flotilla.

In July 1907 the Violet collided with a merchant ship in the North Sea. She was struck on the port near the bridge and the collision created a gap that reached the waterline. She had to be towed into Sheerness by HMS Falcon. At the time the Violet was described in the press as being with the Nore active service flotilla.

In the 1912 battle practise the Violet came top of her class (30-knotters) with 172 points, the highest score of any destroyer.

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 August 1914 she was one of the ships from the Flotilla that were scattered along the east coast, in her case patrolling from a base at Lowestoft.

In November 1914 she was one of six destroyers that formed No.5 Patrol, based at Yarmouth, with the task of patrolling the coast between Yarmouth and Cromer Knoll.

In November 1914, when the Germans raided Yarmouth, the Violet was one of six patrol destroyers based there. Their task was to patrol the area from Cromer Knoll to Yarmouth. She was the flagship of the senior officer in the flotilla at Yarmouth, but when the raid took place on 3 November she was resting in port at Lowestoft. Although she put to sea, by the time she reached the area of the fighting the Germans had gone.

In June 1915 she was part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, based on the Humber.

In January 1916 she was one of twelve destroyers from the Seventh Flotilla that were based on the Humber, while a similar number were on the Tyne.

On 23 February 1916 the Violet ran aground on the Haile Sands near the mouth of the  River Humber. She wasn’t too badly damaged, and was refloated in March.

On 13 July 1916 the Violet was patrolling off Whitby (one of seven destroyers allocated to the Tyne Auxiliary Patrol Area which stretched from Berwick to Scarborough) when the trawler Florence was blown up by UB-18. The Violet rushed to the scene, but the submarine was gone before she could get close.

In October 1916 she was one of nineteen destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, which was based on the Humber and under the command of the Rear Admiral Commanding, East Coast of England.

In January 1917 she was one of eighteen destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty three destroyers in the newly formed East Coast Convoys, Humber, formed as part of the general introduction of convoys in response to the success of unrestricted submarine warfare.

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

In June 1918 she was part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla of the Dover Force, but was undergoing repairs.

In November 1918 she was one of seventeen active destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla of the Dover patrol.

The Violet was sold in June 1920.

-26 November 1900: Lieutenant and Commander A. B. Barker

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots






214.75ft oa
210ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

13 July 1896


3 May 1897


June 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 (22 April 2019), HMS Violet (1897) ,

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