A-class Torpedo Boat Destroyer, Sunfish Class Destroyer, HMS Sunfish (1895) (D47, D2A, D81)

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A-class destroyer, Sunfish class destroyer, HMS Sunfish (1895)


Design History:

HMS Sunfish, was one of three torpdedo boat destroyers ordered for the Royal Navy from Hawthorn Leslie on 7 February 1894 as part of the 1893–1894 Naval Estimates. These boats were just three of a total of 36 destroyers ordered from 14 shipbuilders, as part of 1893–1894 Naval Estimates, which required that all ships laid down comply with a few broad requirements set out by the admiralty. The different classes varied in design, but all were united by the most important requirement was to reach a contract speed of 27 knots (50 km/h; 31 mph) which earned the mismatched collection of similar ships the common designation of “27-knotters”. The other two nessessary design features was the use of an arched turtleback forecastle, and a common armament of 1 × QF 12-pounder gun, 5 × QF 6 pounder guns and 2 × 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, which created a level of uniformity within the class even when the vessels came from a wide range of shipbuilders.

In regards to HMS Sunfish’s design, she she an overall length of 204 feet 0 inches (62.18 m) long overall with a length of 200 feet 0 inches (60.96 m) between perpendiculars. The ships beam was 19 feet 0 inches (5.79 m) and a draught of 8 feet 7 inches (2.62 m). The Destoryer’s displacement was 310 long tons (310 t) light and 340 long tons (350 t) when fully loaded, of which 60 tons was coal to power her engines. The ships powerplant was composed of Eight Yarrow boilers, with their uptakes trunked together to three funnels, feeding steam at 185 pounds per square inch (1,280 kPa) to two triple-expansion steam engines, rated at 4,000 indicated horsepower (3,000 kW). The ship was manned by a crew of 53 officers and men, and was capable of reaching a speed of 27.62 knots (51.15 km/h; 31.78 mph) during sea trials.

Service history:

HMS Sunfish was commissioned at Chatham on 18th of February 1896, replacing the destroyer Havock as tender to the battleship Royal Sovereign as part of the Channel Fleet. In this role HMS

Sunfish took part in the 1896 British Naval Manoeuvres, and was attached to the fleet operations based in Berehaven. After this she was assigned to the Mediterrranean fleet, where she was laid up at Malta between august of 1900 to May of 1902, while her boilers were re-tubed and the bottom reservoirs repaired, during this time her funnels were also hightened. In june of 1902 she let for Gibraltar, and the next month she arrived at Plymoth, where she proceeded to be paid off. After being paid off, she joined the Medway instructional flotilla, where she was damaged while attempting to dock during a gale in Dundee. The ship only rejoining the flotilla in mid october after undergoing repairs. In 1905, HMS Sunfish was described rather harshly by the rear admiral at the time as “…all worn out”, with “every shilling spent on these old 27-knotters is a waste of money”.

This assessment did not result in the decommissioning of HMS Sunfish though and in 1910 she formed part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla based at at Devonport in 1910, where she would remain until 1912. During this time she would collide with the bow of HMS Havock when clearing her moorings at Waterford Harbour. During her attempt to get clear of Havock, she then proceded to collide with the Torpedo boat creativly named Torpedo Boat 045. During this kerfuffle HMS Sunfish was lightly damaged and she again returned to Devonport for repair. On 30 August 1912 the Admiralty directed all destroyers were to be grouped into classes designated by letters based on contract speed and appearance. This policy change meant that after the 30th of September 1913, as a 27-knotter, Sunfish was assigned to the A class destroyer group. By febuary of 1913, HMS Sunfish was not part of an active flotilla group, and was instead attached as a tender to the shore establishment Vivid at Devonport, where she was manned by a nucleus crew, which is where she would be when the first world war broke out in july of 1914.

With war being declared HMS Sunfish was allocated to the Devonport Local Defence Flotilla, where she would activly serve in an antisubmarine role at Devonport for the entirety of the war, during which she accosted several submarines. One such engamenet was when she attempted to ram German minelaying submarine UC.17, though she failed to connect as the submarine submerged before she could reach her. This seemed to be a common theme for the ships career, and though she detected multiple submarines using hydrophones she never managed to engage any. The ships post war career is uneventful, and she along with all remaining A class destroyers was sold for scrap by mid 1920.

Vehicle Specification:

310 long tons (310 t) light
340 long tons (350 t) full load

Length: 204 ft 0 in (62.18 m) oa

Beam: 19 ft 0 in (5.79 m)

Draught: 8 ft 7 in (2.62 m)

Installed power: 4,000 ihp (3,000 kW)

8 × White water tube boilers
2× multiple expansion steam engines driving 2 shafts

Speed: 27 kn (50 km/h; 31 mph)

Range: 1,175 nmi (2,176 km; 1,352 mi) at 11 kn (20 km/h; 13 mph)

Complement: 53

1 × 12pdr gun
5 × 6 pdr guns
2 × 18 inch torpedo tubes

Additional Historical Images:

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  • HMS Sunfish (1895)
  • HMS Sunfish (1895) - Wikipedia
  • Chesneau, Roger & Kolesnik, Eugene M., eds. (1979). Conway’s All The World’s Fighting Ships 1860–1905. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-133-5.
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers: From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Barnsley, UK: Seaforth Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84832-049-9.

Edited September 24, 2022 by nathanclawfish