HMS Falcon (1899)

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HMS Falcon
HMS Falcon before 1 January 1918
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Falcon
Ordered: 1898 – 1899 Naval Estimates
Builder: Fairfields, Govan
Cost: £65,119[1]
Yard number: 412[1]
Laid down: 26 June 1899[1]
Launched: 29 December 1899[1]
Commissioned: December 1901
Fate: Lost in collision with the armed trawler HMS John Fitzgerald, 1 April 1918
General characteristics [1]
Class and type: Fairfield three funnel, 30 knot destroyer
  • 375 t (369 long tons) light
  • 420 t (413 long tons) full load
Length: 215 ft 6 in (65.68 m) o/a
Beam: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Draught: 8 ft 9 in (2.67 m)
Installed power: 6,300 ihp (4,700 kW)
Speed: 30 kn (56 km/h)
  • 85 tons coal
  • 1,615 nmi (2,991 km) at 11 kn (20 km/h)
Complement: 63 officers and men
Service record
Operations: World War I 1914 - 1918

HMS Falcon was a Fairfield three funnel, 30 knot destroyer ordered by the Royal Navy under the 1898 – 1899 Naval Estimates. She spent her life in Home waters, was part of the Dover Patrol during World War I and was lost in a collision on 1 April 1918.


She was laid down as yard number 412 on 26 June 1899 at the Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company shipyard at Govan, Glasgow and launched on 29 December 1899. During her builder’s trials she made her contracted speed requirement. She was completed and accepted by the Royal Navy in December 1901.[2][3]

Service history[edit]


Falcon was commissioned at Devonport on 4 January 1902, and was assigned to the Channel Fleet to serve in the instructional flotilla at Portsmouth.[4] Commander Roger Keyes was appointed in command, bringing the crew of the destroyer Bat, which previously served in the flotilla.[5] She paid off at Devonport on 12 May 1902, when her crew transferred to the destroyer Sprightly, which was the following day commissioned for the instructional flotilla.[6] She spent her operational career only in home waters operating with the Channel Fleet as part of the Flotilla.

On 11 April 1907, Falcon and the destroyer Colne collided in the Channel, badly damaging both ships.[7] Falcon was under repair for almost three months. On 9 July 1907 Falcon towed the destroyer Violet back to the Nore after Violet was badly damaged in a collision with a sailing vessel.[8]

On 30 August 1912 the Admiralty directed all destroyer classes were to be designated by alphabetic characters starting with the letter 'A'. Since her design speed was 30-knots and she had three funnels she was assigned to the C class. After 30 September 1913, she was known as a C-class destroyer and had the letter ‘C’ painted on the hull below the bridge area and on either the fore or aft funnel.[9]

World War I[edit]

For the test mobilization in July 1914 she was assigned to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla based at Dover. While employed with the 6th Flotilla she conducted counter-mining patrols escorted merchant ships and patrolled in defence of the Dover Barrage.[citation needed]

On 28 October 1914, while on anti-submarine patrol off the Belgian coast at Westende with Syren she came under heavy accurate artillery fire from the shore. She remained on station and returned fire until hit by an 8-inch[citation needed] shell which killed 8 personnel including her commanding officer and wounding 15. She was brought into Dunkirk and repaired.[10] She was awarded the battle honour "Belgian Coast 1914 – 17" for her service.[11]


On 1 April 1918, while on convoy duty in the North Sea she was rammed by the armed trawler HMS John Fitzgerald[1] and almost cut in two. The crew, with the exception of the captain (Lt Charles Lightoller DSC RNR), the first lieutenant and the gunnery officer were got away in the ship's boats (one stoker died during the night of injuries sustained from scalding). The fore-part of the ship broke away and sank shortly after midnight, leaving the three officers marooned in the stern, which sank at 02.15. The officers were rescued by a trawler after half-an-hour in the water.[citation needed]

Pennant numbers[edit]

Pennant number[12] From To
P31 6 Dec 1914 1 Sep 1915
D54 1 Sep 1915 1 Jan 1918
D36 1 Jan 1918 17 Mar 1921


  1. ^ a b c d e f Lyon (1996), p.89.
  2. ^ Jane’s All The Worlds Fighting Ships (1898), pp.84-85
  3. ^ Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I (1919), p.76
  4. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36657). London. 6 January 1902. p. 8. 
  5. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36666). London. 16 January 1902. p. 7. 
  6. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36764). London. 10 May 1902. p. 8. 
  7. ^ "Destroyers in Collision: Both Badly Damaged". Evening Journal. Adelaide. 12 April 1907. p. 1. 
  8. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Sheerness". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 30. 1 August 1907. p. 16. 
  9. ^ Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906 to 1922. Conway Maritime Press. 2006 [1985]. pp. 17–19. ISBN 0 85177 245 5. 
  10. ^ Corbett 1921, p. 232
  11. ^ "Ships of the Royal Navy - Location/Activity Data, 1914–1918: Battle Honours and Single Ship Actions". World War I at Sea. 15 December 2014. Retrieved 23 March 2017. 
  12. ^ ""Arrowsmith" List – Part 1 Destroyer Prototypes through "River" Class". Retrieved 1 Jun 2013. 


  • Manning, Captain T.D. The British Destroyer. Godfrey Cave Associates. ISBN 0-906223-13-X. 
  • David Lyon (1996). The First Destroyers. Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-55750-271-1. Retrieved 1 July 2013. 
  • Jane, Fred T. (1969) [1898]. Jane’s All The Worlds Fighting Ships 1898. New York: first published by Sampson Low Marston, London 1898, Reprinted ARCO Publishing Company. 
  • Jane, Fred T. (1990) [1919]. Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I. Jane’s Publishing. ISBN 1 85170 378 0.