Laforey-class destroyer (1913)

The Laforey class (redesignated in October 1913 as the L class) was a class of 22 torpedo boat destroyers of the Royal Navy, twenty of which were built under the Naval Programme of 1912–13 and a further two under the War Emergency Programme of 1914. As such they were the last pre-war British destroyer design. All served during World War I during which three were lost; the survivors were all scrapped in 1921-23.

HMS Loyal, October 1914
Class overview
Name: Laforey- or L-class destroyer
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: Acasta class
Succeeded by: Admiralty M class
Completed: 22
Lost: 3
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 965–1,010 long tons (980–1,026 t)
Length: 268 ft 10 in (81.94 m) o/a
Beam: 27 ft 8 in (8.43 m)
Draught: 10 ft 6 in (3.20 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts; 2 steam turbines
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Range: 1,720 nmi (3,190 km; 1,980 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 74

Naming system

As was previous Royal Navy practice, the first 20 ships were originally allocated names with no particular systematic theme, although the majority were given names taken from Shakespearean or (Sir Walter) Scott characters. However, whilst still building in 1913 they were allocated to the L class and these original names were replaced on 30 September 1913 by new names beginning with the class letter 'L', the first ships to follow this new convention (see naming conventions for destroyers of the Royal Navy). The last pair - Lochinvar and Lassoo - were renamed in February 1915.

Alexander Fullerton included a fictional Laforey class destroyer, called the Lanyard, in his book "The blooding of the Guns", set during the battle of Jutland.


The Laforeys were based on the modified Acasta-class destroyer Fortune that trialled a new hull form that was slightly longer and narrower than that of the Acastas and incorporated a clipper bow. Except for the ships built by J. Samuel White (Laurel and Liberty) and by Yarrow (Lark, Landrail, Laverock and Linnet), which had two funnels, all the other ships had three funnels of equal height, the middle being thicker than the fore and aft.

Armament was increased over the Acastas, with the number of torpedo tubes doubled to two pairs - abaft the funnels - with a small searchlight platform in between. The gun armament remained as three QF 4-inch, but was more usefully distributed; with one gun each on the forecastle, between the funnels (the after pair in ships with three) and on the quarterdeck.


Laforey and Leonidas were fitted with geared (as opposed to direct drive) steam turbines for increased efficiency. Lochinvar, Llewellyn and Lennox were the first destroyers built for the Royal Navy at William Beardmore's new naval construction yard at Dalmuir.


Legion was later fitted for minelaying, for which purposes her quarterdeck gun and torpedo tubes were removed and screens were erected aft of the after funnel to provide protection for mines. The screens were painted with dummy torpedo tubes and a gun so as not to identify her as a minelayer.


At the outbreak of World War I the Laforeys formed the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla. Lance is credited as having fired the first shot of the naval war when, in company with the flotilla leader Amphion, she sank the German auxiliary minelayer Königin Luise the day after war was declared, on 5 August 1914 in the North Sea. The particular gun concerned is preserved at the Imperial War Museum in London.

Two months later on 17 October 1914, off the Dutch island of Texel, Lance, Legion, Lennox and Loyal engaged German torpedo boats and sank S115, S117, S118 and S119 during the Battle off Texel. Lydiard (acting as flotilla leader), with Landrail, Laurel and Liberty were present at the Battle of Jutland on 31 May / 1 June 1916 as part of the 9th and 10th Destroyer Flotillas.


NameShip BuilderLaid down[1]Launched[1]Completed[1]Fate
Llewellyn (ex-Picton)William Beardmore and Company, Dalmuir14 November 191230 October 1913March 1914Sold for scrapping on 10 March 1922
Lennox (ex-Portia)Beardmore14 October 191217 March 1914July 1914Sold for scrapping on 26 October 1921
Loyal (ex-Orlando)William Denny & Brothers Limited, Dumbarton16 September 191211 November 1913May 1914Sold for scrapping on 24 November 1921
Legion (ex-Viola)Denny19 September 19123 February 1914July 1914Sold for scrapping on 9 May 1921
Laforey (ex-Florizel)Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, Govan9 September 191222 August 1913February 1914Mined and sunk in English Channel off Shoreham-by-Sea 23 March 1917
Lawford (ex-Ivanhoe)Fairfield28 September 191230 October 1913March 1913Sold for scrapping on 24 August 1922
Louis (ex-Talisman)Fairfield5 December 191230 December 1913March 1914Wrecked in Suvla Bay (Dardanelles) on 31 October 1915 and destroyed by Turkish coastal artillery
Lydiard (ex-Waverley)Fairfield14 December 191226 February 1914June 1914Sold for scrapping on 5 November 1921
Leonidas (ex-Rob Roy)Parsons Marine Steam Turbine Company, Wallsend,
(hull sub-contracted to Hawthorn Leslie & Company, Hebburn)
26 October 191230 October 1913August 1914Sold for scrapping on 9 May 1921
Lucifer (ex-Rocket)Parsons
(hull sub-contracted to Hawthorn Leslie)
26 October 191229 December 1913August 1914Sold for scrapping on 1 December 1921
Laertes (ex-Sarpedon)Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend6 July 19126 June 1913October 1913Sold for scrapping on 1 December 1921
Lysander (ex-Ulysses)Swan Hunter8 August 191218 August 1913December 1913Sold for scrapping on 9 June 1922
Lance (ex-Daring)John I. Thornycroft & Company Limited, Woolston1 August 191225 February 1914August 1914Sold for scrapping on 5 November 1921
Lookout (ex-Dragon)Thornycroft29 August 191227 April 1914August 1914Sold for scrapping on 24 August 1922
Laurel (ex-Redgauntlet)J. Samuel White & Company, Cowes17 August 19126 May 1913March 1914Sold for scrapping on 1 November 1921
Liberty (ex-Rosalind)White31 August 191215 September 1913March 1914Sold for scrapping on 5 November 1921
Lark (ex-Haughty)Yarrow & Company, Scotstoun28 June 191226 May 1913October 1913Sold for scrapping on 20 January 1923
Linnet (ex-Havock)Yarrow28 June 191216 August 1913December 1913Sold for scrapping on 4 November 1921
Laverock (ex-Hereward)Yarrow24 July 191219 November 1913October 1914Sold for scrapping on 9 May 1921
Landrail (ex-Hotspur)Yarrow24 July 19127 February 1914June 1914Sold for scrapping on 1 December 1921
Lochinvar (ex-Malice)William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir9 January 19159 October 1915December 1915Sold for scrapping on 25 November 1921
Lassoo (ex-Magic)Beardmore24 January 191524 August 191511 October 1915Torpedoed or mined and sunk off Maas light ship by German U-boat 13 August 1916


  1. Friedman 2009, p. 307.


  • Colledge, J. J.; Warlow, Ben (2006) [1969]. Ships of the Royal Navy: The Complete Record of all Fighting Ships of the Royal Navy (Rev. ed.). London: Chatham Publishing. ISBN 978-1-86176-281-8.
  • Dittmar, F.J. & Colledge, J.J. (1972). British Warships 1914–1919. Shepperton, UK: Ian Allan. ISBN 0-7110-0380-7.
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9.
  • Gardiner, Robert & Gray, Randal (1985). Conway's All The World's Fighting Ships 1906–1921. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-245-5.
  • March, Edgar J. (1966). British Destroyers. London, UK: Seeley Service & Co.
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