Acheron-class destroyer

The Acheron class (officially re-designated as the I class in October 1913) was a class of twenty-three destroyers of the British Royal Navy, all built under the 1910–11 Programme and completed between 1911 and 1912, which served during World War I. A further six ships were built to the same design for the Royal Australian Navy as River-class destroyers.[2] There was considerable variation between the design and construction of ships within this class, which should be considered as more of a post-build grouping than a homogeneous class.[Note 1]

HMS Acheron
Class overview
Name: Acheron-class destroyer
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Acorn class
Succeeded by: Acasta class
Built: 19111912
In commission: 19111922
Completed: 23
Lost: 3
Class overview
Name: River-class destroyer
Operators:  Royal Australian Navy
Built: 19101915
In commission: 19111925
Completed: 6
Lost: 0
General characteristics
Displacement: 750 to 790 tons
Length: 246 ft (75.0 m) to 252 ft (76.8 m)
Beam: 26 ft (7.9 m) to 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)
Draught: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m) to 9 ft (2.7 m)
Installed power:
  • Standard I-class:
  • 13,500 shp (10,067 kW)
  • Acheron, Ariel:
  • 15,500 shp (11,558 kW)
  • Lurcher, Oak, Firedrake:
  • 20,000 shp (14,914 kW)
  • Standard I-class:
  • 3 × Parsons steam turbines
  • 3 × Yarrow-type oil-fired boilers
  • 3 × shafts
  • Ferret, Forester:
  • 3 × Parsons steam turbines
  • 3 × White-Forster oil-fired boilers
  • 3 × shafts
  • Hind, Hornet, Hydra:
  • 2 × Brown-Curtis turbines
  • 2 × Yarrow-type oil-fired boilers
  • 2 × shafts
  • Oak, Lurcher, Firedrake:[1]
  • 2 × Parsons turbines
  • 3 × Yarrow oil-fired boilers
  • 2 × shafts
Speed: 27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph) 35 kn (64.8 km/h; 40.3 mph)


Originally, 20 ships, including Acheron, were ordered, but an additional three were completed by Yarrow & Company. Three River-class destroyers of the Royal Australian Navy were laid down in British yards, with a further three built in Australia.

The Acherons were generally repeats of the preceding Acorn- or H-class, although Acheron herself and five others were builders' specials. They differed from the Acorns in having only two funnels, both of which were short, the foremost being thicker than the after stack. The 12-pounder guns were mounted slightly further forward than in the Acorns.

Variation within the class

Fourteen of the class were completed to an Admiralty standard design, although those built by John Brown and Company at Clydebank (Hind, Hornet and Hydra) had Brown-Curtis type turbines and only two shafts. Archer and Attack used steam at higher pressures and Badger and Beaver were completed with geared steam turbines for evaluation purposes, achieving speeds of 30.7 knots (56.9 km/h; 35.3 mph) on trials.[3]

Thornycroft specials

Acheron and Ariel were longer (77m), had higher installed power (15,500 shp) and were consequently faster, achieving 29.4 knots (54.4 km/h; 33.8 mph) on trials.[3]

Yarrow specials (or "special I class")

Sir Alfred Yarrow maintained that it was possible to build strong, seaworthy destroyers with a speed of 32 knots (59 km/h; 37 mph), and eventually a contract for three such boats was placed with the firm. They were a little larger than the rest of the class, and developed 20,000 shp (15,000 kW), but carried the same armament. Like the John Brown-built boats Hind, Hydra and Hornet, they had only 2 shafts, with steam developed in 2 Yarrow-type water-tube boilers and delivered to 2 Parsons turbines.[1] Firedrake, Lurcher and Oak were distinctive in appearance and indeed much faster. They all exceeded their contract speed, Lurcher making over 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph).

Conversion to minelayers

Ferret, Sandfly and Ariel were converted into fast minelaying destroyers in 1917, serving with the 20th Flotilla. They were each capable of laying 40 mines.[4]


This class of torpedo boat destroyers (TBDs, or colloquially, "boats") handled well and were excellent sea boats; like similar classes of TBDs of the time, they had open bridges but were much drier at sea than was the norm.


Builders' I class

NameShip BuilderLaunchedFate
AcheronJohn I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston27 June 1911Sold 9 May 1921[5]
ArcherYarrow & Company, Scotstoun, Glasgow21 October 1911Sold 9 May 1921[5]
ArielJohn I. Thornycroft & Company, Woolston26 September 1911Converted to fast minelayer in 1917. Mined while minelaying in North Sea 2 August 1918[6]
AttackYarrow & Company, Scotstoun, Glasgow12 December 1911Torpedoed or mined by German U-boat UC-34 off Alexandria 30 December 1917.[7]
BadgerWilliam Denny & Brothers,[8] Dumbarton11 July 1911Sold 9 May 1921[5]
BeaverWilliam Denny & Brothers,[8] Dumbarton6 October 1911Sold May 1921

Admiralty I class

NameShip BuilderLaunchedFate
DefenderWilliam Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton30 August 1911Sold 4 November 1921[5]
DruidWilliam Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton4 December 1911[8]Sold 9 May 1921[5]
FerretJ. Samuel White & Company, Cowes12 April 1911[8]Converted to fast minelayer in 1917. Sold May 1921[8]
ForesterJ. Samuel White & Company, Cowes1 June 1911[8]Sold November 1921[8]
GoshawkWilliam Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir18 October 1911[8]Sold November 1921[8]
HindJohn Brown & Company, Clydebank28 July 1911[8]Sold 9 May 1921[8]
HornetJohn Brown & Company, Clydebank20 December 1911[8]Sold 9 May 1921[8]
HydraJohn Brown & Company, Clydebank19 February 1912[8]Sold 9 May 1921[5]
JackalR. W. Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn9 September 1911[8]Sold September 1920[8]
LapwingCammell Laird & Company, Birkenhead29 July 1911[8]Sold October 1921[8]
LizardCammell Laird & Company, Birkenhead10 October 1911[8]Sold 4 November 1921[2]
PhoenixVickers, Barrow-in-Furness9 October 1911Torpedoed by the Austro-Hungarian submarine U-27 in the Adriatic Sea on 14 May 1918[9]
SandflySwan Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend26 July 1911[8]Converted to fast minelayer in 1917. Sold May 1921[8]
TigressR. W. Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn20 December 1911[8]Sold 9 May 1921[5]

Yarrow Specials (or "Special I class")

NameShip BuilderLaunchedFate
FiredrakeYarrow & Company, Scotstoun, Glasgow9 April 1912Sold 10 October 1922
LurcherYarrow & Company, Scotstoun, Glasgow1 June 1912Sold 9 June 1922
OakYarrow & Company, Scotstoun, Glasgow5 September 1912Sold May 1921[2][5]

Australian River class

NameShip BuilderLaunchedFate
ParramattaFairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Govan, Glasgow9 February 1910Used as accommodation by NSW Penal Department, and sold as scrap. Bow and stern sections salvaged as memorials in 1973
YarraWilliam Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton9 April 1910Broken up 1929
WarregoLaid down at Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Limited, Govan and constructed at Cockatoo Dockyard, Sydney from parts4 April 1911Broken up 1930 at Cockatoo Dockyard
HuonCockatoo Dockyard, Sydney19 December 1914Reduced to reserve 7 June 1928 and sunk as a target off Sydney 10 April 1931
SwanCockatoo Dockyard, Sydney11 December 1915Paid off for disposal 15 May 1928 and broken up at Cockatoo Dockyard in 1930
TorrensCockatoo Dockyard, Sydney28 August 1915Reduced to reserve 19 July 1920 and sunk as a target 24 November 1930


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


  • Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893–1981, Maurice Cocker, 1983, Ian Allan ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • The British Destroyer by Captain T D Manning CBE VRD RNVR (Ret'd), (Putnam, 1961)
  • Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921, Conway Maritime Press, 1985, Robert Gardiner ISBN 0-85177-245-5
  1. "Miscellenia" (PDF). The Engineer. 114: 39. 12 July 1912. Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2013. The vessel is 255ft. long by 25ft. 7in. beam, and is propelled by Parsons turbines driving two shafts, steam being supplied by three Yarrow water-tube boilers fitted with the firm's latest feed-heating devices
  2. " website – Acheron Class". Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
  3. "I-class destroyers (extract from Jane's Fighting Ships of 1919)". Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  4. Minesweeping and Minelaying from the Eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911
  5. ""Arrowsmith" List: Royal Navy WWI Destroyer Pendant Numbers". Retrieved 1 July 2008.
  6. "Royal Navy Casualty List, August 1918 – Naval website". Retrieved 17 October 2008.
  7. "British Destroyers – Naval website". Archived from the original on 5 October 2008. Retrieved 25 October 2008.
  8. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway's Maritime Press. 1985. p. 75. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  9. "HMAS Warrego at the Australian War Memorial website". Archived from the original on 25 September 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2008.

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