Boadicea scout class cruisers

The Boadicea class scout cruisers were built to operate with destroyer flotillas, to provide slightly heavier ships that could scout ahead of the flotilla and provide protection against enemy destroyers.  Four very similar classes of scout cruisers had been built in 1903-1905 by four different shipyards (Armstrong at Elswick, Fairfield, Cammel Laird at Birkenhead and Vickers at Barrow). The Boadicea class was the start of a new series of scouts, all built at the Pembroke Dockyard (Boadicea, Blonde and Active classes).

HMAS Boudica at Scapa Flow, 1917
HMAS Boudica at Scapa Flow, 1917

The main 4in guns were concentrated towards the front of the ship. Two were carried in front of the bridge, two more port and starboard just behind the bridge with two more on the centre line towards the rear of the ship. During the war they were given four extra 4in guns, carried in the waist of the ship (two on each side), and a single anti-aircraft gun.

The main problem with the design was a lack of speed. With a top speed of 25kts the Boadicea class ships were slower than the destroyers they were meant to be scouting for. HMS Bellona was attached to the 2nd Flotilla from 1909-1912. For most of this period the Flotilla was made up of Acorn class destroyers capable of reaching 27kts. The Boadicea suffered from the same problem. She was with the 1st Flotilla from 1909-1912. By 1912 that flotilla was made up of Acheron class destroyers capable of between 28 and 32kts.

During the First World War both ships joined the Grand Fleet, saw service at the battle of Jutland in 1916, and were then converted to minelayers in 1917. They were followed by the Blonde class of 1909-1911, which were actually slightly slower than the Boadiceas.

Displacement (loaded)


Top Speed


Armour – deck

1in over machinery

 - conning tower





Six 4in 50 calibre Mk VIII guns
Four 3pdr guns
Two 18in deck mounted torpedo tubes, port and starboard

Crew complement






Ships in class

HMS Boadicea
HMS Bellona

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (19 September 2007), Boadicea scout class cruisers ,

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