HMS Orwell (1901)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Orwell.
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Orwell
Builder: Laird, Son & Co., Birkenhead
Laid down: 9 November 1897
Launched: 29 September 1898
Completed: January 1900
Fate: Scrapped, 1922
General characteristics
Displacement: 360 long tons (366 t)
Length: 216.25 ft (65.91 m)
Beam: 21.5 ft (6.6 m)
Draught: 9 ft 7 in (2.9 m)
Speed: 30 knots (56 km/h; 35 mph)
Complement: 63

HMS Orwell was a B-class torpedo boat destroyer of the British Royal Navy. She was built by Laird, Son & Company, and served from 1900 until 1920.

Construction and design[edit]

As part of the 1897–1898 construction programme for the Royal Navy, the British Admiralty placed an order with Laird, Son & Company of Birkenhead for a single "thirty-knotter" destroyer. Laird's design was based on the Earnest-class destroyer of six destroyers ordered under the 1895–1896 programme, which were in turn closely based on Laird's Quail-class destroyer ordered under the 1894–1895 programme.[1]

Orwell had an overall length of 216 feet 9 inches (66.07 m), with a beam of 21 feet 6 inches (6.55 m) and a draught of 9 feet 7 inches (2.92 m). The ship was powered by two triple expansion steam engines, fed by four Normand boilers, rated at 6,300 ihp (4,700 kW) and was fitted with four funnels, giving a speed of 30 knots.[2][3] Displacement was 360 long tons (366 t) light and 410 long tons (417 t) full load.[3]

Armament was as normal for the "thirty-knotters", with a QF 12 pounder 12 cwt (3 in (76 mm) calibre) gun on a platform on the ship's conning tower (in practice the platform was also used as the ship's bridge), with a secondary armament of five 6-pounder guns, and two 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes.[4][5]

HMS Orwell was laid down on 9 November 1897 and launched on 29 September 1898.[6]


Orwell completed in January 1900, joining the Mediterranean Squadron in April that year.[6][7] On 30 January 1903, Orwell collided with the cruiser HMS Pioneer during night exercises near Corfu. Orwell‍ '​s bow was cut off in the collision with the loss of 15 of her crew.[8][9]

Orwell returned to the United Kingdom in 1906, remaining in home waters for the rest of her Royal Navy career.[6] In 1910, Orwell was part of the Fifth Destroyer Flotilla at Devonport, supported by the destroyer depot ship Leander, and was still a part of the same flotilla in 1912.[8] On 30 August 1912 the Admiralty directed all destroyers were to be grouped into classes designated by letters based on appearance.[10][11] As a four-funneled ship, Orwell was listed as a B-class destroyer on 1 October 1913.[12] By 1913, she was part as the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla,[8] still based at Devonport, one of four patrol flotillas equipped with older destroyers and torpedo boats.[13][14]

On the outbreak of the First World War, the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla was transferred to the East coast of the United Kingdom.[15] Late in 1914, Orwell was transferred to Scapa Flow, where she carried out local patrol and escort duties.[8][16][17] By March 1918, Orwell was one of only three destroyers assigned to local defence of Scapa,[18] but by June that year she had been transferred to the Irish Sea Flotilla.[19]

Orwell was sold for scrap to S Castle of Plymouth on 1 July 1920 and was broken up in October 1922.[20]


  1. ^ Lyon 2001, pp. 61–63.
  2. ^ Lyon 2001, pp. 61, 63.
  3. ^ a b Chesneau and Kolesnik 1979, p. 94.
  4. ^ Lyon 2001, pp. 98–99.
  5. ^ Friedman 2009, p. 40.
  6. ^ a b c Lyon 2001, p. 63.
  7. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence" The Times (London). Friday, 19 April 1901. (36433), p. 10.
  8. ^ a b c d "NMM, vessel ID 372552" (PDF). Warship Histories, vol iii. National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Cruiser and Destroyer in Collision: H.M.S. Orwell Run Down: Fifteen Petty Officers and Men Drowned". The New Zealand Herald. 16 March 1903. p. 6. Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  10. ^ Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 18.
  11. ^ Manning 1961, pp. 17–18.
  12. ^ Gardiner and Gray 1985, p. 73.
  13. ^ Manning 1961, p. 25.
  14. ^ "Fleets, &c. at Home and Abroad: Patrol Flotillas". The Navy List: p. 269d. April 1913. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  15. ^ Manning 1961, pp. 25–26.
  16. ^ "Supplement to the Monthly Naval List Showing Organisation of the Fleet, Flag Officer's Commands, &c.". The Navy List: p. 8. January 1915. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  17. ^ Manning 1961, p. 27.
  18. ^ "Supplement to the Monthly Naval List Showing Organisation of the Fleet, Flag Officer's Commands, &c.". The Navy List: p. 12. March 1918. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  19. ^ "Supplement to the Monthly Naval List Showing Organisation of the Fleet, Flag Officer's Commands, &c.". The Navy List: p. 19. June 1918. Retrieved 14 September 2014. 
  20. ^ Dittmar and Colledge 1972, p. 57.
  • Chesneau, Roger; Kolesnik, Eugene M (1979). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5. 
  • Dittmar, F.J.; Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. Shepperton, UK: Ian Allen. ISBN 0-7110-0380-7. 
  • 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 (1985). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5. 
  • Lyon, David (2001). The First Destroyers. London: Caxton Editions. ISBN 1-84067-3648. 
  • Manning, T. D. (1961). The British Destroyer. London: Putnam & Co. Ltd.