HMS Zubian (1917)

HMS Zubian (1917) was a Tribal class destroyer that was forced from the bow of HMS Zulu and the stern of HMS Nubian, and that served with the Dover Patrol from the summer of 1917 to the end of the war.

The Zubian was formed from halves of two Tribal class destroyers that had suffered heavy damage. The Nubian had her bows destroyed in a night action with German destroyers on 26-27 October 1916 (battle of the Dover Straits). The remains were towed towards Britain, but were forced ashore on the South Foreland. They survived two gales, and were towed to Dover. On 8 November the Zulu hit a mine and lost her stern. She was towed to Calais by the French destroyer Capitaine Mehl.

HMS Zubian from the air HMS Zubian from the air

The two halves of destroyers were taken to Chatham, where they were combined to form a new ship, which was renamed Zubian, taking the ‘bow’ of her name from Zulu and the ‘stern’ from Nubian, matching her components.

The Zubian was armed with two 4in QF Mk V guns. She had a clinker screen on the fore funnel.

The Zubian was officially commissioned in June 1917, and in the same month was listed as a destroyer of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla undergoing a refit!

In January 1918 she was part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, now with over forty destroyers, although ten were undergoing repairs. The Zubian was away from the normal base, and was at Portsmouth.

On 4 February 1918 the Zubian attacked a minelaying submarine with depth charges off Dungeness. Some accounts say that this was UC-50, which was sunk while others have it as UC-79, which was damaged but survived. UC-50 was indeed lost in this period – she sailed on 7 January 1919 and didn’t return. UC-79 reported being rammed, which might suggest that was a different attack.

The Zubian was part of the Eastern Barrage Patrol when the Germans raided into the Dover Straits on 14-15 February 1918. The patrol heard gunfire and saw flashes of light, and headed towards the battle, but then intercepted an order to other British destroyers to return to their anchorage, and resumed their normal patrol.

The Zubian was part of the Ostend Bombarding Force during the raid of 23 April 1918.

In June 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla.

HMS Zubian from the right HMS Zubian from the right

In September 1918 all of the surviving Tribal class ships were given a part of two 14 torpedo-tubes mounted at the break of the forecastle, for use in close range combat.

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

In February 1919 she was listed as part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber in the Navy List.

In July 1919 the Admiralty ordered that the Tribal class destroyers Afridi, Cossack, Saracen, Tartar, Viking and Zubian should all be sold out of the Royal Navy as being no longer required for service.

By December 1919 she was listed as ‘To be Sold’ in the Navy List.

The Zubian arrived at Montrose where she was to be broken up on Monday 16 February 1920. Permission to actually break her up there had only been granted on 2 February by the Montrose Harbour Board.

The Zubian was awarded one battle honour, for the Ostend raid of 23 April 1918.

Lt in commander Gordon F. Hannay: 30 May 1918-February 1919-

Displacement (standard)


Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed

33 knots


3-shaft Parsons steam turbines
6 Thornycroft boilers








Two 4in/ 45cal BL Mk VI
Two 18in Torpedo Tubes

Crew complement


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 (23 July 2020), HMS Zubian (1917) ,

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