HMS Active (H14)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Active.
HMS Active (H14).jpg
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Active (H14)
Operator: Royal Navy
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn
Laid down: 10 July 1928
Launched: 09 July 1929
Commissioned: 9 February 1930
Decommissioned: 1947
Fate: Sold for scrap 1947
General characteristics
Class & type: A class destroyer
Displacement: 1,350 tons standard
1,773 tons full load
Length: 98.40 m (323 ft)
Beam: 9.83 m (32 ft)
Draught: 3.73 m (12 ft)
Propulsion: 3 × Thornycroft oil-fired boilers >35,500 hp
Speed: 35.25 knots (65.28 km/h; 40.56 mph)
Range: 4,800 nmi (8,900 km; 5,500 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 138
Armament: 4 × 4.7 in guns (4×1)
2 × 2-pounder AA guns (2×1)
8 × 21 inch torpedo tubes (2×4)

HMS Active, the tenth Active (H14), launched in 1929, was an A class destroyer. She served in World War II, taking part in the sinking of four submarines. She was broken up in 1947.

Construction and design[edit]

Active was ordered on 6 March 1928 as a part of the first class of destroyers for the Royal Navy to be built after the First World War.[1] The ship was laid down on 10 July 1928 at Hawthorn Leslie in Hebburn, Newcastle upon Tyne, was launched on 9 July 1929 and commissioned on 9 February 1930,[2] being the first of the A class to be completed.[3]

Like the rest of the A class, Active had a main gun armament of four 4.7 in (120 mm) guns on low angle (30 degree) mounts that were only suitable for anti-ship use, and an anti-aircraft armament of two 2-pounder (40 mm) "pom-poms". Eight 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes were carried on two quadruple mounts, with Mark V torpedoes carried.[3][4] No sonar set was initially fitted, although provision was made to fit one later, while anti-submarine armament consisted of three depth charge chutes with six depth charges carried. High speed minesweeping equipment was also fitted.[5]

The ship was powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines fed by three Admiralty 3-drum boilers. The machinery generated 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW), driving the ship to a design speed of 35.25 knots (65.28 km/h; 40.56 mph),[2] although 36.73 knots (68.02 km/h; 42.27 mph) were reached during trials in December 1929.[3]


Pre-war operations[edit]

Following commissioning, Active joined the Third Destroyer Flotilla as part of the Mediterranean Fleet, remaining in the Mediterranean other than for refits until 1939. On 4 April 1932, Active was involved in a collision with fellow A-class destroyer HMS Achates off Saint-Tropez, although damage was limited. Active patrolled off the coast of Palestine in response to the Arab revolt in June 1936, and following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, patrolled off Spain from September 1936 to January 1937.[6]

On 16 February 1937, Active collided with the destroyer HMS Worcester following failure of Active '​s steering gear at high speed. This time damage was more severe, and Active was under repair at Malta until June that year, when it joined the Second Destroyer Flotilla. Active served with the Second Flotilla until October 1938, when it went into reserve at Malta.[6]

Second World War[edit]

At the beginning of World War II she joined the 13th Flotilla based in Gibraltar and later Force H. As such she took part in the Operation Catapult against the French fleet in Mers el Kebir.

In May 1941 the ship participated in the hunt for the battleship Bismarck.

In 1942 she participated in the Madagascar landings (Operation Ironclad) during which on 8 May she sank the Vichy French submarine Monge. Later while being based in Cape Town on 8 October she sank the German U-179 en route to Penang.

During the rest of the war the ship served as escort mainly between Great Britain and Sierra Leone after receiving increased anti aircraft and anti submarine armament. On 23 May 1943 she sank the Italian submarine Leonardo da Vinci west of Cape Finisterre together with HMS Ness and on 2 November 1943 U-340 close to Tangier.

In May 1947 HMS Active was decommissioned and sold for scrap.


  1. ^ English 1993, p. 15.
  2. ^ a b Whitley 2000, p. 97.
  3. ^ a b c Whitley 2000, p. 98.
  4. ^ Gardiner and Chesneau 1980, pp. 37–38.
  5. ^ Friedman 2009, pp. 198–199.
  6. ^ a b English 1993, p. 20.
  • Blair, Clay (2000). Hitler's U-Boat War: The Hunted, 1942–1945. New York: Modern Library. ISBN 0-679-64033-9. 
  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, UK: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (2000). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. London: Cassell & Co. ISBN 1-85409-521-8. 

External links[edit]