Acasta-class destroyer

The Acasta class (in September 1913 re-designated the K class) was a class of twenty destroyers built for the Royal Navy under the Naval Programme of 1911 - 1912 that saw service during World War I. They were the last class of Royal Navy destroyers to have mixed names with no systematic theme (see naming conventions for destroyers of the Royal Navy for more information.) When the class was designated as "K", names beginning with that letter were allocated to the ships but never used.[Note 1][4] The class saw extensive wartime service and seven were lost, including four at the Battle of Jutland.

HMS Shark
Class overview
Name: Acasta class
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Acheron class
Succeeded by: L class
Built: 19121913
In commission: 19121923
Completed: 20
Lost: 7
General characteristics
Type: Torpedo boat destroyer
Displacement: 934 to 984 tons
Length: 267 ft 6 in (81.53 m) to 252 ft (76.8 m)
Beam: 26 ft 6 in (8.08 m) to 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)
Draught: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m) to 9 ft (2.7 m)
Installed power: 24,500 hp (18,270 kW)
  • Standard K class:
  • Acasta, Achates, Ambuscade:
    • 2 shaft Brown-Curtis steam turbines
    • Yarrow-type oil-fired boilers
Speed: 29 kn (53.7 km/h) - 32 kn (59.3 km/h)[1]
Complement: 75 - 77


The Acastas were larger and heavier armed than the preceding H and I classes (Acorn and Acheron, respectively), displacing about 25% more and with the mixed calibre armament replaced with a uniform fit of QF 4-inch guns, which the Acastas introduced. Previous 4-inch (102 mm) weapons had been of the breech-loading (BL) type. The 4-in guns were shipped one on the forecastle and one at the stern, as in the Acheron class, while the third was variously sited on the centreline between the two torpedo tubes or abaft both.[5] All ships had three funnels, the foremost being tall and narrow, the second short and wide and the third level with the second but narrower. The foremost torpedo tube was sited between the second and third funnels, a distinctive feature of this class.

There were twelve 'standard' vessels built to a common Admiralty design,[1] and eight builders' specials that (except for Garland) had a shorter, less beamy hull; five of the latter were from Thornycroft with 22,500 shp (16,800 kW) (one of Thornycroft's ships, Hardy, was planned to diesel cruising motors, but these were not ready in time and Hardy was completed with Thornycroft's standard machinery).[6] One by Parsons (Garland) had semi-geared turbines[7] giving a speed of 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph) on trials, with a seventh from Fairfields had a clipper bow. The eighth 'special' was Ardent by William Denny, Dumbarton, which was built using longitudinal framing rather than conventional transverse framing. While Ardent's novel construction seems to have been a success, no more destroyers were built for the Royal Navy using longitudinal framing until the J-class destroyers in the 1930s.[7][8]


At the outbreak of World War I until mid-1916, the Acastas were serving in the Grand Fleet as the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, with Swift as leader. By the time of the Battle of Jutland the leader was the Faulknor-class flotilla leader Tipperary, with Ardent, Fortune, Shark and Sparrowhawk lost in the course of the battle[9] and Acasta was so badly damaged that she had to be practically rebuilt. After Jutland the remainder of the flotilla moved to the Humber and then to Portsmouth by the end of 1916, before dispersing, some ships to the 6th Destroyer Flotilla and the Dover Patrol and the remainder to Devonport. All survivors of the war were sold out of service for scrapping by 1921.


Admiralty K class

NameShip Builder[10]Laid down[10]Launched[10]Completed[10]Fate
AcastaJohn Brown & Co., Clydebank1 December 191110 September 1912November 1912Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]
AchatesJohn Brown15 January 191214 November 1912March 1913Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]
AmbuscadeJohn Brown7 March 191225 January 1913June 1913Sold for breaking up 6 September 1921.[11]
ChristopherHawthorn Leslie & Co., Newcastle16 October 191129 August 1912November 1912Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]
CockatriceHawthorn Leslie23 October 19118 November 1912March 1913Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]
ContestHawthorn Leslie26 December 19117 January 1913June 1913Torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat in the Western Approaches 18 September 1917.[12]
LynxHarland & Wolff, Govan18 January 191220 March 1913January 1914Mined and sunk in Moray Firth by mine laid from German raider Meteor 9 August 1915.[12]
MidgeHarland & Wolff, Govan1 April 191222 May 1913March 1913Sold for breaking up 5 November 1921.[11]
OwlHarland & Wolff, Govan1 April 19137 May 1913April 1914Sold for breaking up 5 November 1921.[11]
SharkSwan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson,
18 October 191130 July 19123 April 1913Disabled by gunfire and torpedoed and sunk at Battle of Jutland 31 May 1916.[12]
SparrowhawkSwan, Hunter25 October 191112 October 19122 May 1913Collided with HMS Broke at Battle of Jutland and torpedoed by HMS Marksman 1 June 1916.[12]
SpitfireSwan, Hunter20 December 191123 December 191219 June 1913Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]

K-class Builders' specials

NameShip Builder[10]Laid down[10]Launched[10]Completed[10]Fate
ArdentWilliam Denny & Br., Dumbarton9 October 19128 September 1913February 1914Sunk by secondary gunfire from German dreadnought SMS Westfalen at Battle of Jutland 1 June 1916.[12]
FortuneFairfield, Govan24 June 191217 May 1913December 1913Sunk by secondary gunfire from German dreadnought SMS Westfalen at Battle of Jutland on night of 31 May / 1 June 1916.[12]
GarlandParsons Turbine, Wallsend
(hull sub-contracted to Cammell Laird, Birkenhead)
15 July 191223 April 1913December 1913Sold for breaking up 6 September 1921.[11]
HardyThornycroft, Woolston13 November 191110 October 1913September 1913Sold for breaking up 9 May 1921.[11]
ParagonThornycroft14 March 191221 February 1913December 1913Torpedoed and sunk by German destroyer in action in the Straits of Dover 18 March 1917.[12]
PorpoiseThornycroft14 March 191221 July 1913January 1914Sold 23 February 1920 back to Thornycroft for resale to Brazil; became Brazilian Alexandrino Deaenca, later Maranhao.[11]
UnityThornycroft1 April 191218 September 1913March 1914Sold for breaking up 25 October 1922.[11]
VictorThornycroft1 April 191228 November 1913June 1914Sold for breaking up 20 January 1923.[11]

See also


  1. No class of ships were designated as J class.


  1. "K-class destroyers (extract from Jane's Fighting Ships of 1919)". Archived from the original on 7 September 2006. Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  2. H.M.S.O. (1916). The Sight Manual. Pub. No. OU 6026. p. 80. ADM 186/216
  3. March. British Destroyers, p. 127.
  4. Friedman 2009, p. 129.
  5. March. British Destroyers, pp. 125, 129, 130.
  6. Friedman 2009, pp. 126–129.
  7. Friedman 2009, p. 127.
  8. Brown 2010, pp. 70–71.
  9. ""Arrowsmith" List: Royal Navy WWI Destroyer Pendant Numbers". Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  10. Friedman 2009, pp. 306–307.
  11. "Destroyers before 1918". Retrieved 27 February 2009.
  12. "British Destroyer losses". Naval Archived from the original on 6 March 2009. Retrieved 27 February 2009.


  • Brown, David K., The Grand Fleet: Warship Design and Development 1906–1922. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1-84832-085-7.
  • Maurice Cocker, Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981, 1983, Ian Allan ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • Friedman, Norman, British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9.
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