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The River-class (re-designated in 1913 as the E-class) destroyer was a heterogeneous class of torpedo boat destroyer (TBD) built to assorted builders' designs for the Royal Navy at the turn of the 20th century, which saw extensive service in World War I. All the ships were named after British rivers, and as such were the first Royal Navy destroyer class to be named systematically (see the article naming conventions for destroyers of the Royal Navy for more details).

Design

Like their predecessors - the "turtle-back" destroyers of the 1890s - they were built to the designs of their individual builders, and thus there were considerable variations. But in the River group of designs can be seen the genesis of the "true destroyer", with the typical weatherly raised forecastle and a balanced armament of guns and torpedoes. This was a departure from previous British designs that had a low "turtle-back" forecastle, which, although intended to clear the bows, caused them to dig in to the sea, resulting in a very wet conning position. As a result of this, and with a general increase in size and more solid construction, the Rivers became the first truly ocean going and useful torpedo boat destroyers (TBD) in Royal Navy service.

Despite making only 25 knots (previous classes had made 27 to under the most favourable conditions), the increased seaworthiness meant that they could maintain this speed into a sea and that they remained workable and fightable at the same time. Notwithstanding a variety of design differences, all ships had either two broad funnels or two pairs of narrow funnels. The armament was improved over earlier classes to four QF 12 pounder guns, carried on a bandstand on the forecastle, two sided abreast the wheelhouse at main deck level and the fourth gun aft. The torpedo tubes were carried singly, one between the funnels and one aft.

All ships were coal fired and had triple expansion steam engines, except Eden, Stour and Test which were powered by steam turbines. The Eden had three propellers on each of her two shafts, to transmit the power at the high revolutions of the direct drive turbines, a feature of the earlier Turbiniamarker.

All ships surviving the war were sold out of service by late 1920.

Ships

Thirty-four ships were ordered - ten ships under the 1901-02 Programme, eight ships under the 1902-03 Programme (with one extra purchased when Palmers built it on speculation), and fifteen ships under the 1903-04 Programme; two additional vessels (also built on speculation) were purchased in 1909.

Originally Derwent type; all built by Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn, Newcastle upon Tyne.
  • Derwent — launched 14 February 1903, mined and sunk off Le Havremarker 2 May 1917.
  • Eden — launched 13 March 1903, rammed and sunk by SS France in English Channelmarker 18 June 1916.
  • Waveney — launched 15 March 1903, sold for breaking up 10 February 1920.
  • Boyne — launched 12 September 1904, sold for breaking up 30 August 1919.
  • Doon — launched 8 November 1904, sold for breaking up 27 June 1919.
  • Kale — launched 8 November 1904, mined and sunk in North Seamarker 27 March 1918.
Originally Erne type; all built by Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Company, Jarrowmarker.
  • Erne — launched 14 January 1903, wrecked off Rattray Headmarker 6 February 1915.
  • Ettrick — launched 28 February 1903, sold for breaking up 27 May 1919.
  • Exe — launched 27 April 1903, sold for breaking up 10 February 1920.
  • Cherwell — launched 23 July 1903, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
  • Dee — launched 10 September 1903, sold for breaking up 23 July 1919.
  • Rother — launched 5 January 1904, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
  • Swale — launched 20 April 1905, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
  • Ure — launched 25 October 1904, sold for breaking up 27 May 1919.
  • Wear — launched 21 January 1905, sold for breaking up 4 November 1919.
Originally Ribble type; all built by Yarrow Shipbuilders, Poplar, Londonmarker.
  • Ribble — launched 19 March 1904, sold for breaking up 29 July 1920.
  • Teviot — launched 7 November 1903, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
  • Usk — launched 25 July 1903, sold for breaking up 29 July 1920.
  • Welland — launched 14 April 1904, sold for breaking up 30 June 1920.
  • Gala — launched 7 January 1905, collided with HMS Attentive and sank 27 April 1908 off Harwich.
  • Garry — launched 21 March 1905, sold for breaking up 22 October 1919.
Originally Foyle type; all built by Laird Brothers (from 1903 Cammell Laird), Birkenheadmarker.
  • Foyle — launched 25 February 1903, mined and sunk in Straits of Dovermarker 15 March 1917.
  • Itchen — launched 17 March 1903, torpedoed and sank by U-boat U-99 in the North Seamarker 6 July 1917.
  • Arun — launched 29 April 1903, sold for breaking up 30 June 1920.
  • Blackwater — launched 25 July 1903, sunk in collision with SS Hero 6 April 1909 off Dungeness.
  • Liffey — launched 23 September 1904, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
  • Moy — launched 10 November 1904, sold for breaking up 27 May 1919.
  • Ouse — launched 7 January 1905, sold for breaking up 22 October 1919.
Originally Kennet type; all built by J I Thornycroftmarker, Chiswickmarker.
  • Kennet — laid down 5 December 1902, launched 4 December 1903, and completed in January 1905; sold for breaking up 11 December 1919.
  • Jed — laid down 27 February 1903, launched 16 February 1904, and completed in January 1905; sold for breaking up 29 July 1920.
  • Chelmer — laid down 11 February 1904, launched 8 December 1904, and completed in June 1905; sold for breaking up 30 June 1920.
  • Colne — laid down 21 March 1904, launched 21 May 1905, and completed in July 1905; sold for breaking up 4 November 1919.
Originally Ness type; both built by J. Samuel White, Cowesmarker.
  • Ness — launched 5 January 1905, sold for breaking up 27 May 1919.
  • Nith — launched 7 March 1905, sold for breaking up 23 June 1919.
Originally Stour type; both built 1905 by Cammell Laird and Company, Birkenhead, on speculation, and purchased by the Royal Navy December 1909.
  • Stour — launched 3 June 1905, sold for breaking up 30 August 1919.
  • Test — launched 6 May 1905, sold for breaking up 30 August 1919.


Notes and references

  • Destroyers of the Royal Navy, 1893-1981, Maurice Cocker, 1983, Ian Allan ISBN 0-7110-1075-7
  • Jane's Fighting Ships, 1919, Jane's Publishing


See also

  • River class — for a list of other ship classes named after rivers



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