HMS Kale (1904)

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HMS Kale at sea (15624464118).jpg
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Kale
Ordered: 1903 – 1904 Naval Estimates
Builder: R.W. Hawthorn Leslie and Company, Ltd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Laid down: 16 February 1904
Launched: 8 November 1904
Commissioned: August 1905
Fate: Mined in the North Sea, 27 March 1918
General characteristics
Class and type: Hawthorn Leslie Type River-class destroyer[1][2]
  • 550 t (541 long tons) standard
  • 625 t (615 long tons) full load
  • 226 ft 6 in (69.04 m) o/a
  • 23 ft 9 in (7.24 m) beam
  • 7 ft 9 in (2.36 m) draught
Installed power: 7,000 shp (5,200 kW) (average)
Speed: 25.5 kn (47.2 km/h)
  • 140 tons coal
  • 1,870 nmi (3,460 km) at 11 kn (20 km/h)
Complement: 70 officers and men
Service record
Part of:
Operations: World War I 1914 - 1918

HMS Kale was a Hawthorn Leslie type River-class destroyer ordered by the Royal Navy under the 1903–1904 Naval Estimates. Named after the Kale Water in the Scottish Borders, she was the first ship to carry this name in the Royal Navy.


She was laid down on 16 February 1904 at the Hawthorn Leslie shipyard at Hebburn-on-Tyne and launched on 8 November 1904. She was completed in August 1905. Her original armament was to be the same as the turtleback torpedo boat destroyers that preceded her. In 1906 the Admiralty decided to upgrade the armament by landing the five 6-pounder naval guns and shipping three 12-pounder 8 hundredweight (cwt) guns. Two would be mounted abeam at the fo'csle break and the third gun would be mounted on the quarterdeck.


After commissioning she was assigned to the East Coast Destroyer Flotilla of the 1st Fleet and based at Harwich.

On 27 April 1908 the Eastern Flotilla departed Harwich for live fire and night manoeuvres. During these exercises HMS Attentive rammed and sank HMS Gala then damaged HMS Ribble.

In April 1909 she was assigned to the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on its formation at Harwich. She remained until displaced by a Basilisk-class destroyer by May 1912. She was assigned to the 5th Destroyer Flotilla of the 2nd Fleet with a nucleus crew.

On 30 August 1912 the Admiralty directed all destroyer classes were to be designated by alpha characters starting with the letter 'A'. The ships of the River class were assigned to the E class. After 30 September 1913, she was known as an E-class destroyer and had the letter ‘E’ painted on the hull below the bridge area and on either the fore or aft funnel.[3]

In October 1912 Kale, still part of the 5th Flotilla, entered refit at Chatham Dockyard.[4] The refit was finished by December that year, with Kale rejoining the 5th Flotilla.[5] By February 1913, however, Kale was part of the Ninth Flotilla based at Chatham, one of four Flotillas equipped with old destroyers and torpedo boats for patrol purposes.[6][7] In December 1913, Kale entered another refit, this time at Pembroke Dockyard with the aim of retubing her boilers.[8] This refit was completed by July 1914.[9]

World War I[edit]

In early 1914 when displaced by G-class destroyers she joined the 9th Destroyer Flotilla based at Chatham tendered to HMS St George. The 9th Flotilla was a patrol flotilla tasked with anti-submarine and counter-mining patrols in the Firth of Forth area.[10]

In August 1915 with the amalgamation of the 9th and 7th Flotillas she was deployed to the 7th Destroyer Flotilla based at the River Humber. She remained employed on the Humber patrol participating in counter-mining operations and anti-submarine patrols for the remainder of the war.[11]


On 27 March 1918 Kale was lost after striking a contact mine in the North Sea with the loss of 41 officers and men.[12] It seems she hit a British mine. David Hepper in British Warship Losses records: "The court martial enquiry was very critical of Commander Dennison [in command]. He had steered a course which was six miles east of the swept channel [i.e. swept for mines] and straight into a prohibited area which contained a defensive British minefield; details of the restricted zone had been promulgated several weeks earlier, but he had failed to read them or to see that the information provided was marked on the charts."[13]

Pennant numbers[edit]

Pennant number[12] From To
N45 6 December 1914 1 September 1915
D23 1 September 1915 1 January 1918
D47 1 January 1918 27 March 1918


  1. ^ Jane, Fred T. (1969) [1905]. Jane’s Fighting Ships 1905/6. New York: first published by Sampson Low Marston, London 1905, reprinted by ARCO Publishing Company. p. 75.
  2. ^ Jane, Fred T. (1990) [1919]. Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I. Jane’s Publishing. p. 76. ISBN 1 85170 378 0.
  3. ^ Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906 to 1922. Conway Maritime Press. 2006 [1985]. pp. 17–19. ISBN 0 85177 245 5.
  4. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Chatham Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 35. October 1912. p. 83.
  5. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Chatham Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 35. December 1912. p. 164.
  6. ^ "Fleets and Squadrons at Home and Abroad: Patrol Flotillas". The Navy List: 269d. March 1913. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Fleets and Squadrons at Home and Abroad: Patrol Flotillas". The Navy List: 269d. August 1913. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  8. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Pembroke Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 36. January 1914. p. 188.
  9. ^ "Naval Matters—Past and Prospective: Pembroke Dockyard". The Marine Engineer and Naval Architect. Vol. 36. July 1914. p. 461.
  10. ^ "Naval Database".
  11. ^ "History of the Great War, Naval Operations, Volume III, Spring 1915 to June 1916 (Part 1 of 2), by Sir Julian S Corbett, Chapter XIII, Loss of Argyll and Natal". Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
  12. ^ a b ""Arrowsmith" List – Part 1 Destroyer Prototypes through "River" class". Retrieved 1 Jun 2013.
  13. ^ David J. Hepper (2006). British Warship Losses in the Ironclad Era: 1860-1919. CHATHAM PUB. pp. 125–126. ISBN 978-1-86176-273-3.
  • The British Destroyer by Captain T.D. Manning. Published by Godfrey Cave Associates. ISBN 0-906223-13-X.