HMS Waveney (1903)

HMS Waveney (1903) was a River class destroyer that served with the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla on the Tyne in 1914-15, coming under fire during the German raid on Hartlepool, and the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber for the rest of the war,

The original River class boats carried their forward 6-pdr guns on sponsons on either side of the forecastle, but this made them too low and rather wet in some circumstances. From the 1902/3 batch onwards the forward guns were thus moved to a higher position alongside the 12-pdr gun.

The Waveney was the only River class destroyers ordered from Hawthorn Leslie in the 1902/3 batch. She had two funnels

Brassey’s Naval Annual of 1905 published the results of her official trials. On her four hour speed trials she averaged 25.62knots at 7,307ihp. On her four hour coal consumption trial she achieved 25.35knots at 25.35ihp, using 2.19lb of coal per ihp per hour.

By 1912 Brassey’s listed her as being armed with four 12-pounders after the original mixed armament was replaced.


On Wednesday 26 August 1903 the Waveney was heading out to sea to begin one of her trials when Fitter William Brown was killed in an accident in the machinery. The trail was abandoned.

On Saturday 18 June 1904 she arrived at Sheerness to be delivered to the Navy. She was ordered to join the Fleet Reserve at Chatham until she was needed.

In August 1904 it was announced that the Waveney was to replace the Arun as part of the Devonport torpedo-boat instructional flotilla.

The Waveney took part in trials against the turbine powered River class destroyer HMS Eden. The turbines outperformed her reciprocal engines, and these results were used to help justify using turbines in the revolutionary battleship HMS Dreadnought

HMS Waveney from the front-left HMS Waveney from the front-left

In 1905-1906 the Waveney was one of the three River class destroyers in the 3rd Division, part of the Channel Fleet, the main battleship force at the time.

In August 1905 the Waveney was part of the powerful British fleet that gathered at Portsmouth to meet a French fleet making the first visit to a British port for many years.

In 1908-1909 the Waveney was part of either the 2nd or 4th Destroyer Flotillas, part of the Home Fleet, which was becoming the main battleship force.

In the summer of 1910 the Waveney was selected to take part in the annual naval manoeuvres, but at the start of July a leak was found in her aft magazine (while supplies were being loaded). She had to be taken into the dry dock at Sheerness for repairs, but while she was entering the basin she suffered more damage when the tide drove her onto the basin wall!

In 1911-12 the Waveney was part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, which was made up of twenty-three River class destroyers and was part of the 3rd Division of the Home Fleet. This contained the older battleships and the destroyers were all partly manned.

In 1912-14 the Waveney was one of twenty five River class destroyers that formed the 9th Destroyer Flotilla on the Nore, one of the new Patrol Flotillas.

First World War

In July 1914 she was one of sixteen River class destroyers in the Ninth Flotilla at Chatham.

In August 1914 she was one of six destroyers from the Ninth Flotilla that were reported to be at sea at the outbreak of war.

In November 1914 she was one of four destroyers in the 2nd Division of the Ninth Flotilla, now operating from the Tyne.

In December 1914 the Waveney, Doon, Test and Moy were detached to Hartlepool, where they came under the command of Captain Alan C. Bruce. The destroyers were at sea early on 16 December when they detected three ships approaching the port. These turned out to be battlecruisers Seydlitz and Moltke and the heavy cruiser Blucher. The destroyers were too far away to carry out a torpedo attack, although the Moydid make one attempt to attack. The best that the destroyers could do was avoid being hit by the German heavy guns as they escaped to the north-east. The Germans went on to carry out a heavy bombardment of Hartlepool, firing 1,150 shells, and killing at least 86 civilians and 7 soldiers.

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

HMS Waveney from the right
HMS Waveney from the right

This flotilla consisted of the Pathfinder class scout cruiser Patrol and twelve destroyers, and was normally split into four divisions. One would be at Immingham in the Humber, having their boilers cleaned. The other three, each of three destroyers, were based on the Tyne and Tees, with the task of patrolling the area between St Abb’s Head in the north and Flamborough Head in the south. In March this force had to cope with the appearance of German U-boats off the east coast.

In June 1915 she was one of ten River class destroyers in the Ninth Destroyer Flotilla on the Tyne.

By October 1915 she was listed as part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

In January 1916 she was part of the Seventh Flotilla, based at Immingham on the Humber, and was undergoing repairs with no clear end date. By this date she had been equipped with a modified sweep, an early anti-submarine weapon.

In October 1916 she was one of nineteen destroyers in the Seventh Flotilla, a mix of River class boats and older 30-knotters.

On 13 November 1916 a German submarine sank the SS Corinth just to the north of the Humber estuary. The torpedo boat TB.35 drove the submarine under the surface and the Waveney arrived a little later and dropped a depth charge. A total of ten destroyers, five motor launches, three seaplanes and three airships took part in the hunt for the submarine, but without success.

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

On 7 February 1917 UB-34 sank the Corsican Prince off Whitby. The St. Ninian stopped to rescue the survivors, and two armed trawlers arrived on the scene but they were unable to stop the U-boat sinking the St. Ninian. The Doon and the Waveney were ordered to the scene, and at noon the Waveney sighted a periscope ¾ of a mile away. She made for the target and opened fire with her guns, but the submarine submerged before the Waveney could reach her. The Waveney carried very few depth charges – she had already used her single ‘D’ type, and her Bruce towed charge failed to explode. Contact was made again at 12.20, but once again the towed charge failed, despite the destroyer actually bumping along the side of the U-boat!

On 29 April the Waveney and Vigilant provided the escort for the first north-bound convoy on the East Coast, heading north from the Humber to Scotland. The convoy arrived safely, as did the equivalent south-bound convoy.

In June 1917 she was one of twenty three destroyers in a new formation, East Coast Convoys, Humber, that was formed around the Seventh Flotilla to help run the new convoy system.

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 twenty five destroyers in the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber, a mix of River class and 30-knotters.

In November 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers serving with the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla, which included ten River Class destroyers that were part of the flotilla and two borrowed from Portsmouth.

In December 1918 she was still part of the Seventh Flotilla, but she was recorded as having been paid off.

By January 1920 she was listed ‘to be sold’ in the Navy List.

Lt & Commander Owen T. H. Phillips: 16 October 1912-March 1913
Lt & Commander George B. Hartford: 14 March-April 1913-
Ch. Artif. Eng. David J. Leary: -January 1914-
Lt in Command: Ralph W.H. Roberts: 26 June 1914-January 1915-
Lt Commander V. Quin: -7 February 1917-
Lt Commander Robert M Gardner: 14 October-December 1918-
Gunner Charles H. Parmenter (acting): February 1919

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed



Modified Yarrow boilers




225.5ft oa
220ft pp




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

Crew complement


Laid down

 20 October 1902


16 March 1903


June 1904

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 (25 October 2020), HMS Waveney (1903) ,

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