HMS Impulsive

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United Kingdom
BuilderJ. Samuel White and Company, Cowes
Laid downMarch 1936
Launched1 March 1937
Commissioned29 January 1938
IdentificationPennant number: D11
FateScrapped, 1946
General characteristics (as built)
Class and typeI-class destroyer
Length323 ft (98.5 m)
Beam33 ft (10.1 m)
Draught12 ft 6 in (3.8 m)
Installed power
Propulsion2 shafts, 2 geared steam turbines
Speed35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)
Range5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Sensors and
processing systems
Service record
Commanders: Lt. Cmdr. William Scott Thomas
Victories: Sank U-457 (1942)

HMS Impulsive was an I-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. She saw service in World War II before being scrapped in 1946. She has been the only ship of the Navy to bear this name.


The I-class ships were improved versions of the preceding H-class. They displaced 1,370 long tons (1,390 t) at standard load and 1,888 long tons (1,918 t) at deep load. The ships had an overall length of 323 feet (98.5 m), a beam of 33 feet (10.1 m) and a draught of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m). They were powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by three Admiralty three-drum boilers. The turbines developed a total of 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW) and were intended to give a maximum speed of 35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph).[1] Impulsive only reached a speed of 32.2 knots (59.6 km/h; 37.1 mph) from 33,297 shp (24,830 kW) during her sea trials.[2] The ships carried enough fuel oil to give them a range of 5,500 nautical miles (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). Their crew numbered 145 officers and ratings.[1]

The ships mounted four 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark IX guns in single mounts, designated 'A', 'B', 'X' and 'Y' from bow to stern. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, they had two quadruple mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mark III machine gun. The I class was fitted with two above-water quintuple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[3] One depth charge rack and two throwers were fitted; 16 depth charges were originally carried,[1] but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[4] Impulsive was one of the four I-class destroyers fitted with minelaying equipment in late 1938 – January 1939 at Malta. This consisted of mounts for rails on the deck on which to carry the mines and an electric winch to move the mines down the rails. A pair of sponsons were added to the stern to allow the mines to clear the propellers when dropped into the sea. 'A' and 'Y' guns and both sets of torpedo tubes were modified to allow them to be removed to compensate for the weight of the mines.[5] The ships could carry a maximum of 72 mines.[6] The I-class ships were fitted with the ASDIC sound detection system to locate submarines underwater.[7]

Construction and career[edit]

Impulsive was laid down on 9 March 1936 by J. Samuel White and Company at their Cowes shipyard, launched on 1 March 1937 and completed on 29 January 1938. 28 and 29 May 1940 she made four trips to Dunkirk and rescued 2,919 troops. Following that, she participated in mine-laying duties and in the Arctic convoys. She attacked and sank the German submarine U-457 in the Barents Sea north-east of Murmansk in Russia on 16 September 1942. The destroyer's commander was William Scott Thomas, grandfather of actress Kristin Scott Thomas and the father of Admiral Sir Richard Thomas (a former Black Rod).[8]

Impulsive was sold for scrap to W. H. Arnott, Young and Company, Limited on 22 January 1946 and broken up at Sunderland.


  1. ^ a b c Lenton, p. 161
  2. ^ March, p. 315
  3. ^ Whitley, p. 111
  4. ^ English, p. 141
  5. ^ Smith, pp. 112–113
  6. ^ Friedman, p. 230
  7. ^ Hodges & Friedman, p. 16
  8. ^ "Black Rod".