HMS Ferret (1911)

HMS Ferret was an Acheron-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that served during World War I and was sold for breaking in 1921. She was the sixteenth Royal Navy ship to be named after the domestic mammal Mustela putorius.

HMS Ferret
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Ferret
Builder: J. Samuel White & Company, Cowes[1]
Launched: 12 April 1911[1]
  • Converted to fast minelayer in 1917
  • Sold May 1921[1]
General characteristics
Class and type: Acheron-class destroyer
Displacement: 990 tons
Length: 75 m (246 ft)
Beam: 7.8 m (26 ft)
Draught: 2.7 m (8.9 ft)
Installed power: 13,500 shp (10,100 kW)
  • Three Parsons Turbines
  • Three White-Forster boilers (oil fired)
  • Three shafts
Speed: 30 kn (56 km/h)
Complement: 72


She was built under the 1910-11 shipbuilding programme by J. Samuel White & Company of Cowes.[1] She had three Parsons turbines, and three White-Forster boilers.[2] Capable of 30 knots,[2] she carried two 4-inch guns, other smaller guns and two 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes and had a complement of 72 men. She was launched on 12 April 1911.[3]

Pennant numbers

Pennant Number[4]FromTo
H356 December 19141 January 1918
H321 January 1918Early 1919
H93Early 19199 May 1921



Ferret served with the First Destroyer Flotilla from 1911 and, with her flotilla, joined the British Grand Fleet in 1914 on the outbreak of World War I.[3]

The Battle of Heligoland Bight

She was present with First Destroyer Flotilla on 28 August 1914 at the Battle of Heligoland Bight, led by the light cruiser Fearless,[5] and shared in the prize money for the battle.[6] Ferret was not present with her flotilla at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916 but she continued to serve with the First Destroyer Flotilla screening the Grand Fleet until November 1916 when she was one of seven destroyers to stay with the flotilla when was assigned to operate with the Third Battle Squadron.[7]


On 18 January 1917 she was torpedoed by the German submarine UC 21 south-east of St. Catherine's Point.[8] Able Seaman George Keeble died of wounds inflicted during the attack,[9] but the ship was not fatally damaged, and she was returned to service.

Conversion to minelayer

In 1917 the Acheron-class destroyers Ferret, Sandfly and Ariel were converted to minelaying destroyers,[10] capable of carrying 40 mines. Ferret started serving with the 7th Flotilla on the East Coast of England in July 1917[11] and thence to the 20th Flotilla in March 1918,[12] from which she operated out of Immingham.[13]

Minelaying operations in the Heligoland Bight

The provision of converted minelaying destroyers and the availability of reliable H2-pattern mines allowed the greatest allied minelaying operation of World War I - the attempt to close Heligoland Bight to German ships and submarines. Ferret, with her sisters, was employed on this work until the end of the war. On the night of 27/28 March 1918 while laying a barrier minefield 70 nautical miles (130 km) north-west of Heligoland, Ferret in company with Ariel, Abdiel, Legion and Telemachus[6] came upon three armed German trawlers. All three vessels were sunk and 72 prisoners were captured.[10]


In common with most of her class, she was laid up after World War I, and on 9 May 1921 she was sold to Ward for breaking.[4]


  1. Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1906-1921. London: Conway's Maritime Press. 1985. p. 75. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  2. "I-class destroyers (extract from Jane's Fighting Ships of 1919)". Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  3. " website - Acheron Class". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  4. ""Arrowsmith" List: Royal Navy WWI Destroyer Pendant Numbers". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  5. "Battle of Heligoland Bight - Order of Battle (World War 1 Naval Combat website)". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  6. "An Index of Prize Bounties as announced in the London Gazette 1915 - 1925". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  7. Monthly Supplement to the Navy List (November 1916), p. 13.
  8. " - Ships hit during WW1". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  9. "Royal Navy Casualties - January 1917". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
  10. Minesweeping and Minelaying from the Eleventh edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 1911
  11. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List (July 1917), p. 16.
  12. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List (March 1918), p. 15.
  13. "British Destroyers - Naval website". Retrieved 10 November 2009.
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