HMS Amphion (1911)
|Laid down:||15 March 1911|
|Launched:||4 December 1911|
|Fate:||Sunk by mine, 6 August 1914|
|Class & type:||Active-class scout cruiser|
|Beam:||41 ft 6 in (12.65 m)|
|Draught:||15 ft 7 in (4.75 m)|
|Installed power:||18,000 shp (13,420 kW)|
|Speed:||25 kn (28.8 mph; 46.3 km/h)|
|Armament:||10 × BL 4 in (102 mm)/50 cal Mk VII guns (10×1), 1 × 3 in (76 mm) anti-aircraft gun, 4 × 3 pdr (1.4 kg) guns, 2 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes|
HMS Amphion was an Active-class scout cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was built at Pembroke Dockyard and launched on 4 December 1911. She became the first ship of the Royal Navy to be sunk in the First World War. The wreck site is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.
On commissioning, Amphion was assigned as leader of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla with the Harwich Force, defending the eastern approaches to the English Channel. During her early years she was commanded by Frederic Charles Dreyer, but by the outbreak of the First World War she was under the command of Captain Cecil H Fox.
In the afternoon of 5 August 1914, Amphion and the 3rd Flotilla were carrying out a pre-arranged plan of search when they were informed by a trawler that she had seen a suspicious ship 'throwing things overboard'. The trawler gave an indicated position, and Amphion led the flotilla to investigate. Shortly afterwards, the 2,150 long tons (2,180 t) minelayer SMS Königin Luise was sighted steering east. Königin Luise was a former Hamburg-Netherlands holiday ferry that had been converted to an auxiliary minelayer by the Germans. On the night of 4 August, she had departed Emden and headed into the North Sea to lay mines off the Thames Estuary. Königin Luise was disguised in the black, buff, and yellow colours of the steamers of the Great Eastern Railway, that plied from Harwich to the Hook of Holland. Her attempt to flee from the approaching fleet aroused suspicions and four destroyers gave chase, including Lance and Landrail. In about an hour's time, Königin Luise was chased down and sunk, with 46 survivors from the crew of 100.
Amphion picked up a number of the survivors and continued on her prearranged search. The destroyers now sighted another ship of the same shape and colour as Königin Luise, flying a large German flag. The destroyers began to attack this ship, whilst Amphion recognised her as St. Petersburg which was carrying the German Ambassador back to Germany from England. Amphion signalled the destroyers to cease fire but either unaware of the signal or caught up in the heat of the moment, they continued to fire upon the ship. Amphion then manœuvred between the destroyers and St. Petersburg to deliberately foul the range, and St. Petersburg proceeded to safety.
Amphion continued with the search without further incident until 03:30 of 6 August, when she began the return course to Harwich. Unfortunately the allocated course ran very close to where Königin Luise had laid her mines. At 06:30, Amphion struck a mine that had been previously laid by Königin Luise. A sheet of flame enveloped the bridge which incapacitated her captain. Except for one man, all the forecastle gun crews were killed and many of the bridge occupants were badly burnt. As the hands were at breakfast, many were killed or suffocated in the forward messdecks. As soon as he recovered consciousness, the captain ran to the engine room to stop the engines, which were still going at revolutions for 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h). As all the forepart was on fire, it proved impossible to reach the bridge or to flood the fore magazine. The ship's back appeared to be broken and she was already settling by the bows.
The escorting destroyers closed in and took off Amphion 's crew and the few rescued German survivors. Though her engines were stopped, her momentum carried her back into the minefield and at 07:03, just three minutes after the last boatload of survivors were taken off, she again struck the same row of mines. The fore magazine exploded, with debris striking the rescue boats and destroyers. One of Amphion 's shells burst on the deck of Lark, killing two of Amphion 's men and a German prisoner rescued from the cruiser. Amphion then rapidly sank within 15 minutes of the explosion. Around 150 British sailors were killed in the sinking, as well as 18 of the crew rescued from Königin Luise.
- Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) . Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8. OCLC 67375475.
- Jane's Fighting Ships of World War One (1919), Jane's Publishing Company
- Gray, Randal (ed), "Conway's All The Worlds Fighting Ships, 1906-1921", (Conway Maritime Press, London, 1985), ISBN 0-85177-245-5
- Active class in World War I
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