HMS Flirt (1897)

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HMS Flirt (1897) IWM Q 021257.jpg
HMS Flirt
United Kingdom
NameHMS Flirt
Ordered1896 – 1897 Naval Estimates
BuilderPalmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company Jarrow-on-Tyne
Laid down5 September 1896
Launched15 May 1897
CommissionedApril 1899
Honours and
Belgian Coast 1914 - 1915
FateSunk 26/27 October 1916 in combat
General characteristics
Class and typePalmer three funnel, 30 knot destroyer
  • 390 t (384 long tons) standard
  • 440 t (433 long tons) full load
Length220 ft (67 m) o/a
Beam20 ft 9 in (6.32 m)
Draught9 ft 9 in (2.97 m)
Installed power6,200 ihp (4,600 kW)
Speed30 kn (56 km/h)
Range91 tons coal
Complement60 officers and men
Service record
Operations: World War I 1914 - 1918

HMS Flirt was a Palmer three funnel, 30 knot destroyer ordered by the Royal Navy under the 1896 – 1897 Naval Estimates. She was the fifth ship to carry this name since it was introduced in 1782 for a 14-gun brig in service until 1795.[1]


The British Admiralty ordered two destroyers, Flirt and Fawn from Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company for the Royal Navy as part of the 1896–1897 shipbuilding programme,[2] which included a total of 20 destroyers (17 "thirty-knotters" and three "specials" which were required to reach a higher speed).[3] The two destroyers were repeats of the six destroyers ordered from Palmers under the 1895–1896 programme.[2]

Flirt's hull was 220 feet (67.06 m) long overall and 215 feet (65.53 m) between perpendiculars, with a beam of 20 feet 9 inches (6.32 m) and a draught of 9 feet 9 inches (2.97 m). Four Reed water tube boilers fed steam at 250 pounds per square inch (1,700 kPa) to triple expansion steam engines rated at 6,200 indicated horsepower (4,600 kW) and driving two propeller shafts. Displacement was 390 long tons (400 t) light and 440 long tons (450 t) deep load.[4] Three funnels were fitted,[5] and 91 tons of coal carried.[6] Flirt, like the other "thirty-knotters" was contractually required to maintain a speed of 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph) for a continuous run of three hours and over 6 consecutively measured runs of 1 mile (1.6 km) during sea trials.[7]

Armament was specified as a single QF 12 pounder 12 cwt (3 in-calibre or 76 mm) gun on a platform on the ship's conning tower (in practice the platform was also used as the ship's bridge), backed up by five 6-pounder guns, and two 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.[8][9] She had a crew of 60[6] to 63 officers and men.[10]

Flirt was laid down on 5 September 1896 at the Palmers' shipyard at Jarrow-on-Tyne as Yard number 722 and launched on 15 May 1897.[2] During sea trials she made her contracted speed requirement of 30 knots.[6] She was completed and accepted by the Royal Navy in April 1899.[2]

Service history[edit]


After commissioning Flirt was assigned to the East Coast Flotilla of the 1st Fleet based at Harwich. She served in the Portsmouth instructional flotilla under the command of Commander Michael Henry Hodges until she was paid off in January 1901.[11] Commander Brian Barttelot was appointed in command on 1 August 1902.[12] She took part in the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII.[13]

From August to October 1907, Flirt underwent a refit at Portsmouth Dockyard, but collided with a harbour wall on 8 October when returning to harbour after steam trials, damaging her bow.[14] After repair she joined the Harwich destroyer flotilla.[15]

On 30 August 1912 the Admiralty directed all destroyers were to be grouped into classes designated by letters based on contract speed and appearance. As a three-funneled destroyer with a contract speed of 30 knots, Flirt was assigned to the C Class.[16][17] The class letters were painted on the hull below the bridge area and on a funnel.[18]

World War I[edit]

For the test mobilization in July 1914 she was assigned to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla based at Dover. During her deployment there she was involved in anti-submarine, counter-mining patrols and defending the drifters of the Dover Barrage.

On 28 October 1914 under the command of Lieutenant H. S. Braddyll, Flirt took part in operations off the Belgian coast.


On the night of 26/27 October 1916 the German Navy raided the Dover Barrage with two and a half flotillas of torpedo boats and destroyers. Flirt under the command of Lieutenant R. P. Kellett responded to gunfire from the drifter line. She found the drifter Waveney II on fire and sent a boat to assist. When unidentified ships approached she issued a challenge and was immediately fired upon by the Germans. Flirt was lost; the only survivors were those dispatched to aid Waveney II.

She was awarded the battle honour "Belgian Coast 1914 – 15" for her service.

Pennant numbers[edit]

Pennant number[19] From To
P87 6 Dec 1914 1 Sep 1915
D56 1 Sep 1915 27 Oct 1916

Further reading[edit]

Captain Evans tells in his book Keeping the Seas that the life boat carrying the last survivors of Flirt was depth charged by a passing destroyer who thought it was a submarine. A real enemy submarine in the area also "took a look at them" and in the darkness mistook them for a British submarine, and dived to escape destruction.


  1. ^ Jane, Fred T. (1969) [1898]. Jane's All the World's Fighting Ships 1898. New York: first published by Sampson Low Marston, London 1898, Reprinted ARCO Publishing Company. p. 84 to 85.
  2. ^ a b c d Lyon 2001, p. 79.
  3. ^ Friedman 2009, p. 53.
  4. ^ Lyon 2001, pp. 78–79.
  5. ^ Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 94.
  6. ^ a b c Brassey 1902, p. 275.
  7. ^ Lyon 2001, p. 23.
  8. ^ Lyon 2001, pp. 98–99.
  9. ^ Friedman 2009, p. 40.
  10. ^ Manning 1961, p. 42.
  11. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36344). London. 5 January 1901. p. 8.
  12. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36839). London. 6 August 1902. p. 8.
  13. ^ "The Coronation - Naval Review". The Times (36845). London. 13 August 1902. p. 4.
  14. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Portsmouth Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 30. 1 November 1907. p. 132.
  15. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Portsmouth Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 30. 1 December 1907. p. 171.
  16. ^ Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 18.
  17. ^ Manning 1961, pp. 17–18.
  18. ^ Manning 1961, p. 34.
  19. ^ ""Arrowsmith" List – Part 1 Destroyer Prototypes through "River" Class". Retrieved 1 June 2013.


  • Brassey, T. A. (1902). The Naval Annual 1902. Portsmouth, UK: J. Griffin and Co.
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M, eds. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. 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.
  • Evans, E.R.G.R. (1919). Keeping the Seas. Toronto: S.B. Gundy published in Canada for Humphrey Milford.
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9.
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • Lyon, David (2001) [1996]. The First Destroyers. London: Caxton Editions. ISBN 1-84067-3648.
  • Manning, T. D. (1961). The British Destroyer. London: Putnam & Co. OCLC 6470051.
  • March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers: A History of Development, 1892–1953; Drawn by Admiralty Permission From Official Records & Returns, Ships' Covers & Building Plans. London: Seeley Service. OCLC 164893555.
  • Moore, John (1990). Jane's Fighting Ships of World War I. London: Studio Editions. ISBN 1-85170-378-0.