The Forward-class ships were powered by a pair of three-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines, each driving one shaft, using steam provided by a dozen Thornycroftboilers that exhausted into three funnels. The engines were designed to produce a total of 16,500 indicated horsepower (12,300 kW) which was intended to give a maximum speed of 25 knots. The scout cruisers soon proved too slow for this role as newer destroyers outpaced them. The ships carried a maximum of 500 long tons (508 t) of coal.
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