HMS Hornet (1911)

HMS Hornet was an Acheron-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that served during the First World War and was sold for breaking in 1921. She was the seventh Royal Navy ship to be named Hornet, after the insect.

HMS Hornet
United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hornet
Builder: John Brown & Company of Clydebank[1]
Yard number: 405[2]
Laid down: 24 January 1911[2]
Launched: 20 December 1911[3]
Fate: Sold 9 May 1921[3]
General characteristics
Class and type: Acheron-class destroyer
Displacement: 990 long tons (1,010 t)
Length: 246 ft (75 m)
Beam: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Draught: 8.9 ft (2.7 m)
Installed power: 13,500 shp (10,100 kW)
Speed: 28 kn (32 mph; 52 km/h)[2]
Complement: 72


She was built under the 1910-11 shipbuilding programme by John Brown & Company of Clydebank, Glasgow.[1] She (and her sister ships Hind and Hydra) differed from the standard Admiralty I-class destroyer in only having two shafts instead of three. They had two Brown-Curtis type steam turbines, and twin boilers.[4] Capable of 28 kn (32 mph; 52 km/h), she carried two 4 in (100 mm) guns, other smaller guns and two 21 inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes and had a complement of 72 men. She was launched on 20 December 1911.[5]

Pennant Numbers

Pennant Number[3]FromTo
H496 December 19141 January 1918
H421 January 1918Early 1919
H08Early 19199 May 1921



Hornet served with the First Destroyer Flotilla from 1911 and, with her flotilla, joined the British Grand Fleet in 1914 on the outbreak of the First World War.[5]

The Battle of Dogger Bank

On 24 January 1915, the First Destroyer Flotilla — including Hornet — were present at the Battle of Dogger Bank, led by the light cruiser Aurora.[6] Her crew shared in the prize money for the German armoured cruiser Blücher.[7]

Grounding of Argyll

The light cruiser Argyll went aground on Bell Rock near Dundee on 28 October after failing to sight the light due to a failure of communications between the ship and the lighthouse. Hornet and Jackal were diverted from their patrol to assist and rescued the crew of approximately 650; there were no fatalities.[8]

Transfer to Third Battle Squadron

Hornet was not present with her flotilla at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May 1916. She was one of seven went with the First Destroyer Flotilla when it was transferred from the Grand Fleet to screen the Third Battle Squadron in November 1916.[9]

Mediterranean Service

In 1917, the Third Battle Squadron was sent to the Mediterranean, where they took part in the 1918 Naval campaign in the Adriatic, including enforcing the Otranto Barrage.

On the night of 22–23 April 1918, the Tátra-class destroyers Triglav, Uzsok, Dukla, Lika and Csepel under Fregattenkapitän Karl Herkner[10] carried out a raid to interrupt Allied shipping between Italy and Albania south of Valona (now Vlorë, Albania). Hornet, Jackal, Alarm, Comet, the Australian destroyer HMAS Torrens and the French destroyer Cimeterre were formed into three groups, with 10 mi (16 km) between each group. Jackal and Hornet encountered the Austro-Hungarian ships and turned towards, making the challenge signal. At a range of 1.5 nmi (2.8 km; 1.7 mi) the Austro-Hungarian destroyers opened fire, concentrating their fire on Hornet. Both British ships turned away, making smoke, with the intention of drawing the enemy south, but Hornet took a hit in the forward shell room and magazine, starting fires in both compartments and causing an explosion.[10] The bridge and tiller flat both received further hits, and the rudder jammed hard over to starboard, leaving the ship circling hard under fire. Jackal turned to the east, but after approximately 15 minutes of firing, Herkner in Triglav broke off the engagement, reasoning that the alarm had certainly been raised. Jackal continued the pursuit, but the faster Austro-Hungarians pulled ahead, and she lost sight of them by 00:20. Alarm, Torrens and Cimeterre had caught up with Jackal by 00:45, but by 01:35 the pursuit was called off.[10]

Hornet was seriously damaged, and Jackal had lost her mainmast, but the appearance of Allied reinforcements had driven the Austrians back to Cattaro (now Kotor in Montenegro).[11][12] The British lost six killed (four of them in Hornet) and 25 wounded, while the Austro-Hungarians suffered no hits. Despite the one-sided casualty figures, two pre-war Royal Navy destroyers had succeeded in driving off five of the latest enemy destroyers.[10]

Hornet was present at the entry of the Allied Fleet through the Dardanelles on 12 November.[13] The Fleet sighted the minarets of Constantinople at 07:00 on 13 November and anchored an hour later. The destroyers maintained an anti-submarine patrol to the west of the anchored fleet.[13]


Along with most ships of her class, she was laid up after the war, and on 9 May 1921 she was sold to Ward of Rainham for breaking.[3]


  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. "HMS Hornet at the Clyde-built database". Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 10 March 2009.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  3. ""Arrowsmith" List: Royal Navy WWI Destroyer Pendant Numbers". Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  4. "I-class destroyers (extract from Jane's Fighting Ships of 1919)". Archived from the original on 3 June 2011. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
  5. " website - Acheron Class". Retrieved 30 June 2008.
  6. "Battle of Dogger Bank - Order of Battle (World War 1 Naval Combat website)". Retrieved 8 March 2009.
  7. "An Index of Prize Bounties as announced in the London Gazette 1915 - 1925". Retrieved 28 September 2008.
  8. "Bell Rock Lighthouses - the loss of HMS Argyll, 1915". Retrieved 9 April 2009.
  9. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List (November 1916), p. 13.
  10. Halpern, Paul G (2004). The Battle of the Otranto Straits: Controlling the Gateway to the Adriatic in World War I. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0-253-34379-6.
  11. Erwin Sieche. "French Naval Operations, Engagements and Ship Losses in the Adriatic in World War 1". Great War Primary Documents Archive. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  12. "John Beech's Austro-Hungarian Navy Website". Archived from the original on 28 April 2006. Retrieved 9 March 2009.
  13. S E Brooks. "The Entry of the Allied Fleet through the Dardanelles". Oxford University. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
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