HMS Fearless (1912)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Fearless.
HMS Fearless (1912).jpg
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Fearless
Builder: Pembroke Royal Dockyard
Laid down: 15 November 1911
Launched: 12 June 1912
Commissioned: October 1913
Fate: Sold for scrap, 8 November 1921
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: Active-class Scout cruiser
Displacement: 3,340 long tons (3,390 t) (normal)
Length: 405 ft (123.4 m) (o/a)
Beam: 41 ft (12.5 m)
Draught: 14 ft 6 in (4.4 m)
Installed power: 18,000 shp (13,000 kW)
12 × Yarrow boilers
Propulsion: 4 × shafts
2 × Parsons steam turbine sets
Speed: 25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph)
Range: 4,630 nautical miles (8,570 km; 5,330 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 293
Armament: 10 × single BL 4-inch (102 mm) guns
4 × single QF 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)) guns
2 × single 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes

HMS Fearless was one of three Active-class scout cruisers built for the Royal Navy in the 1910s. She participated in the Battle of Heligoland Bight in late 1914. The ship survived World War I and was sold for scrap in 1921.

Design and description[edit]

The Active-class ships were the last class of turbine-powered scout cruisers ordered by the Admiralty. These ships were intended to work with destroyer flotillas, leading their torpedo attacks and backing them up when attacked by other destroyers, although they quickly became less useful as destroyer speeds increased before the First World War. Fearless had a length between perpendiculars of 405 feet (123.4 m), a beam of 41 feet (12.5 m) and a draught of 14 feet 6 inches (4.4 m). She displaced 3,340 long tons (3,394 t) at normal load and 3,945 long tons (4,008 t) at deep load. Her crew consisted of 289 officers and other ranks.[1]

The main armament of the Active class consisted of ten breech-loading (BL) four-inch Mk VII guns. The forward pair of guns were mounted side by side on a platform on the forecastle, six were amidships, three on each broadside, and the two remaining guns were on the centreline of the quarterdeck, one ahead of the other.[2] The guns fired their 31-pound (14 kg) shells to a range of about 11,400 yards (10,400 m).[3] Her secondary armament was four quick-firing (QF) three-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in)) Vickers Mk I guns and two submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes. In 1918, two 4-inch guns were removed from the ship. A QF three-inch 20 cwt[Note 1] anti-aircraft gun was added to Fearless in 1918.[4]

As scout cruisers, the ships were only lightly protected to maximize their speed. They had a curved protective deck that was one inch (25 mm) thick on the slope and 0.5 inches (13 mm) on the flat.[5] Their conning tower was protected by four inches of armour.[4]

Construction and career[edit]

She was laid down at Pembroke Royal Dockyard, launched on 12 June 1912 and completed on October 1913. Fearless was assigned to the Harwich Force with her sisters, and was the leader of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla in August 1914. Later in 1916 she was made the leader of the 12th Submarine Flotilla of the Grand Fleet, made up of the notoriously accident-prone K-class steam submarines. Fearless accidentally rammed and sank the submarine HMS K17 on the evening of 31 January 1918, an incident that sardonically came to be known as the Battle of May Island. She was repaired and survived the war, but was considered obsolete and was sold for scrap in November 1921, eventually being broken up in Germany.[2]


  1. ^ "Cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 20 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.


  1. ^ Friedman 2009, pp. 113, 295
  2. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 50
  3. ^ Friedman 2011, pp. 75–76
  4. ^ a b Gardiner & Gray, p. 53
  5. ^ Friedman 2009, p. 295


  • Corbett, Julian. Naval Operations to the Battle of the Falklands. History of the Great War: Based on Official Documents I (2nd, reprint of the 1938 ed.). London and Nashville, Tennessee: Imperial War Museum and Battery Press. ISBN 0-89839-256-X. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-081-8. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2011). Naval Weapons of World War One. Barnsley, South Yorkshire, UK: Seaforth. ISBN 978-1-84832-100-7. 
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 

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