HMS Hyperion (H97)

HMS Hyperion was an H-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy during the mid-1930s. During the Spanish Civil War of 1936–1939, the ship enforced the arms blockade imposed by Britain and France on both sides as part of the Mediterranean Fleet. During the first few months of World War II, Hyperion searched for German commerce raiders in the Atlantic Ocean and blockaded German merchant ships in neutral harbours until she returned to the British Isles in early 1940. The ship participated in the Norwegian Campaign before she was transferred back to the Mediterranean Fleet shortly afterwards. Hyperion participated in the Battle of Calabria and the Battle of Cape Spada in July 1940 while escorting the larger ships of the fleet. The ship covered several convoys to Malta before she struck a mine and was deliberately scuttled in December 1940.

United Kingdom
Name: HMS Hyperion
Builder: Swan Hunter, Tyne and Wear, United Kingdom
Laid down: 27 March 1935
Launched: 8 April 1936
Completed: 3 December 1936
Identification: pennant number: H97
Fate: Mined 22 December 1940
General characteristics as built
Class and type: H-class destroyer
Length: 323 ft (98.5 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10.1 m)
Draught: 12 ft 5 in (3.8 m)
Installed power: 34,000 shp (25,000 kW)
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 5,530 nmi (10,240 km; 6,360 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 137 (peacetime), 146 (wartime)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Notes: Pennant number H97


Hyperion displaced 1,350 long tons (1,370 t) at standard load and 1,883 long tons (1,913 t) at deep load. The ship had an overall length of 323 feet (98.5 m), a beam of 33 feet (10.1 m) and a draught of 12 feet 5 inches (3.8 m).

She was powered by Parsons geared steam turbines, driving two shafts, which developed a total of 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW) and gave a maximum speed of 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph). The other G- and H-class destroyers were built with three Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers, but as a trial Hyperion uniquely used a Johnson boiler in the aft position instead.[1][2] This is an O-type boiler with a single lower water drum and curved tubes, rather than the triangular arrangement with two drums used by the Admiralty. The first boiler design suffered from poor circulation and so external cold downcomers were added, making the reworked boiler 10% heavier. The boiler was well-regarded in service as it reduced the amount of potentially troublesome refractory firebrick usually used for the base of the furnace.[1]

Hyperion carried a maximum of 470 long tons (480 t) of fuel oil that gave her a range of 5,530 nautical miles (10,240 km; 6,360 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). The ship's complement was 137 officers and men in peacetime,[3] but this increased to 146 in wartime.[4]

The ship mounted four 45-calibre 4.7-inch Mk IX guns in single mounts. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, Hyperion had two quadruple Mark I mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mk III machine gun. She was fitted with two above-water quadruple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[3] One depth charge rail and two throwers were fitted; 20 depth charges were originally carried, but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[5] The ship's anti-aircraft armament was increased when the rear set of torpedo tubes was replaced by a 12-pounder 12 cwt[Note 1] AA gun, although when exactly the modification was made is not known.[6]


Ordered on 13 December 1934, Hyperion was laid down by Swan Hunter & Wigham Richardson at Wallsend-on-Tyne, England, on 27 March 1935. She was launched on 8 April 1936 and completed on 3 December 1936. Excluding government-furnished equipment like the armament, the ship cost £251,466.[7][Note 2] She was assigned to the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet upon commissioning. Hyperion patrolled Spanish waters during the Spanish Civil War enforcing the policies of the Non-Intervention Committee. The ship received an overhaul at Malta between 30 September and 30 October 1937 and resumed patrolling Spanish waters for the rest of the war. Hyperion was sent to Portsmouth for another refit in August 1939 that lasted from 16 to 27 August.[8]

When World War II began on 3 September, the ship was en route to Freetown, Sierra Leone, to search for German commerce raiders. Hyperion was transferred to the North America and West Indies Station in late October where he blockaded various German merchant ships in American and Mexican harbours. She intercepted the German ocean liner Columbus off Cape Hatteras on 19 December, but Columbus scuttled herself before she could be captured.[8] Hyperion was transferred to the British Isles in mid-January 1940 and began a refit at Portsmouth that lasted from 25 January to 6 March. The ship rejoined the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla of the Home Fleet at Scapa Flow.[8]

On 5 April Hyperion escorted the battlecruiser Renown as she covered the minelayers preparing to implement Operation Wilfred, an operation to lay mines in the Vestfjord to prevent the transport of Swedish iron ore from Narvik to Germany. The ship and her sister Hero pretended to lay a minefield off Bud, Norway on 8 April and reported its location to the Norwegians.[9] Hyperion escorted the aircraft carriers Glorious and Ark Royal from 21 April as their aircraft attacked German targets in Norway. She remained with Ark Royal when Glorious returned to Scapa Flow to refuel on 27 April.[10] In early May the ship escorted the light cruiser Birmingham on an unsuccessful sweep of the North Sea looking for German ships.[11]

Hyperion evacuated British personnel from the Hook of Holland from 8 to 12 May and was then ordered to reinforce the Mediterranean Fleet at Malta on 16 May.[8] On 9 July she participated in the Battle of Calabria as an escort for the heavy ships of Force C and unsuccessfully engaged Italian destroyers and suffered no damage. During the Battle of Cape Spada on 19 July, the ship escorted Australian light cruiser HMAS Sydney and rescued some of the 525 survivors from the Italian cruiser Bartolomeo Colleoni together with the other escorting destroyers. Together with her sister Hereward and two other destroyers, she bombarded Italian positions around Sidi Barrani on 25 September. Hyperion escorted the carrier Illustrious during the Battle of Taranto on the night of 11/12 November.[12] With Hereward, she sank the Italian submarine Naiade on 14 December 1940 near Bardia.[8]

Hyperion struck a mine on 22 December 1940 off Pantelleria as she escorted the battleship HMS Malaya on passage from Alexandria to Gibraltar while covering a convoy to Malta. The destroyer Ilex attempted to tow Hyperion, but the tow cable broke twice and the destroyer Janus was ordered to sink her after Ilex took off the crew. Only two members of the crew were not rescued and were presumed killed in the explosion.[8]

See also


  1. "cwt" is the abbreviation for hundredweight, 12 cwt referring to the weight of the gun.
  2. Adjusted for inflation to 2019 pounds, £17,146,387.


  1. Rippon (1998), pp. 245–246.
  2. "G- and H-class Destroyers". Grey Funnel Line. Archived from the original on 25 April 2016.
  3. Whitley, p. 109
  4. English, pp. 89, 102
  5. English, p. 141
  6. Whitley, p. 110
  7. English, pp. 102–03
  8. English, p. 113
  9. Haar 2009, pp. 65–66, 88–89
  10. Haarr 2010, pp. 143, 150
  11. Rohwer, p. 23
  12. Rohwer, pp. 32–33, 41, 47


  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9.
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2009). The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-310-9.
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2010). The Battle for Norway: April–June 1940. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-051-1.
  • Rippon, Commander P.M., RN (1998). The evolution of engineering in the Royal Navy. Vol 1: 1827-1939. Spellmount. ISBN 0-946771-55-3.
  • Rohwer, Jürgen (2005). Chronology of the War at Sea 1939–1945: The Naval History of World War Two (Third Revised ed.). Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-59114-119-2.
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.

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