HMS Vulture (1898)

HMS Vulture (1898) was a C Class destroyer that served with the Nore Local Defence Flotilla from 1914 to early in 1917, and was present when the Lighting was sunk by a mine in 1915.

Thomson hadn’t been given any orders for the first batch of 30-knot destroyers, but she was given four in the second (1895-6) batch. The company produced a longer version of their 27-knotter design, with four Normand boilers in two stokeholds. The uptakes from boilers 2 and 3 were merged into a single large central funnel. They followed the standard design, with a turtleback foredeck leading to the conning tower, which had a combined bridge and 12-pounder gun platform on top. Two 6-pounder guns were alongside the bridge, one at the stern and the final two along the sides of the ship. Their mast was between the first and second funnels.

In 1899 the Vulture took part in speed and fuel efficiency trials. She reached 30.172 knots at 6,222 ihp, consuming 2.34 pounds of coal per iHP per hour and 30.277 knots at 6,175 ihp. On a low speed run she reached 13.044 knots at 505iHP using 2.2 pounds of coal per iHP per hour, hardly saving any fuel at the lower speed.

HMS Vulture from the right
HMS Vulture from the right

The Vulture arrived at Portsmouth on 4 August 1899.

On Tuesday 22 August 1899 her port engine broke down during her twelve hour trial. To make things worse she then damaged her bows when she collided with the jetty on her way back to harbour. However the damage was minor, and she was able to carry out her gun trials on Wednesday 23 August.

On 26 October 1899 she carried out a twelve hour coal consumption trial off Portsmouth,

On 27 April 1900 the Vulture formally joined the Portsmouth Fleet Reserve.

In 1900-1905 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, one of the three that contained all of the home based destroyers.

On 27 November 1900 the Vulture was commissioned by Lieutenant and Commander A.B. Barker and his crew, who had paid off their previous ship, HMS Violet, on the previous day.

On 7 March 1901 the Vulture left Devonport to rejoin the Portsmouth Instructional Flotilla.

On Sunday 6 April 1901 one of her crew, stoker John Docherty, drowned when he slipped and fell into the water while returning to his ship.

In late April 1901 the Vulture had to return to Portsmouth from Guernsey after her condensers failed. The repairs were completed by Friday 3 May when she left Portsmouth to rejoined the Portsmouth Instructional Flotilla at Devonport.

On Saturday 12 October 1901 she had to return to port either because her decks buckled in heavy seas near the Needles, with the damage was restricted to the upper decks, or because of a small leak in a boiler tube (press reports varied on the reasons).

Over the winter of 1902-3 she required repairs, and underwent a steam trial on Tuesday 20 January 1903.

In 1905-1909 she was part of the Portsmouth Flotilla, which contained the older destroyers, while the newer ones were allocated to the main battle fleets.

In 1911-12 she was part of the 6th Destroyer Flotilla, which was allocated to the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet, which contained the older battleships. The Vulture was based at Chatham.

On 17 June 1914 the Vulture collided with a hopper in the Thames estuary, during night exercises. The Vulture suffered heavy damage on the rear part of her starboard side and a large hole was made in the empty officer’s quarters. She was towed into port by the Cynthia, and temporary repairs were built in a submarine floating dock.

In July 1914 she was in active commission at Sheerness/ Chatham

Wartime Service

In August 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In November 1914 she was one of twelve destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flitlla.

In June 1915 she was part of the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

On 9 June 1915 the Vulture and the Brazen were nearby when the steamer Lady Salisbury was blown up by a torpedo. They rescued the survivors, before spotting a periscope. This triggered a large scale submarine hunt, eventually involving 23 destroyers, but the U-boats involved escaped. To make things worse the British torpedo boats HMS TB.10 and HMS TB.12 were both sunk, even as the Vulture and two other destroyers attempted to protect them! The Vulture attempted to find the submarine by heading in the direction that the torpedo was suspected to have come from. Her crew believed that she was narrowly missed by another torpedo. In fact the torpedo boats had both run into mines from a newly laid German minefield, laid by UC class submarines.

On 30 June 1915 the Vulture reported spotting a floating mine near the Kentish Knock Light Vessel. The Light Vessel reported seeing more in the afternoon, so Vulture and Lightning were sent out to destroy them. At around 20.00 the Lightning hit a mine, split in two and the bow section sank. 14-15 of her crew were lost.

In January 1916 she was one of ten destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In October 1916 she was one of eight destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In January 1917 she was one of nine destroyers in the Nore Local Defence Flotilla.

In June 1917 she wasn’t listed in the Admiralty Pink List, the working list of warship locations, suggesting that she was no longer in service.

In January 1918 she wasn’t listed in the Admiralty Pink List.

In June 1918 she wasn’t listed in the Admiralty Pink List.

In November 1918 she wasn’t listed in the Admiralty Pink List.

The Vulture was broken up in May 1919.

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

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

30 knots




80 tons of coal (Brassey, 1900, 1901, 1902)


222.25ft oa
218ft pp


20ft 8.25in


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

Crew complement

58 (Brassey, 1900, 1901, 1902)

Laid down

26 November 1895


22 March 1898


May 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 (17 April 2019), HMS Vulture (1898) ,

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