HMS Afridi (1907)

HMS Afridi (1907) was a Tribal class destroyer that served with the Dover Patrol during the First World War, and had a number of possible clashes with U-boats, although no recorded successes.

The Afridi was one of five Tribal class destroyers that were ordered in the 1905-6 programme. The Afridi had three low funnels, which took the uptakes from her five boiler rooms, each containing a single boiler (the third funnel was smaller than the front two).

The Afridi took some time to complete. She was laid down on 9 August 1906, but strikes just before she was due to begin steam trials slowed down work and she wasn’t commissioned until late in 1909. The Afridi’s trials were somewhat disappointing. She needed 21,000shp to reach her contract speed. She was also a very heavy user of fuel, once needing 9.5 tons of fuel just to raise steam for a 6 mile return trio from Harwich to Felixstowe.

Her potential performance appears to have caused some concern before she was completed. On 15 October 1908 the Cornishman reported that she would probably need to be cut in half and lengthened by 15ft to reach her contract speed, as at her current length her stern wave was slowing her down. However the same article also gave her current length as 250ft, which was the length she was completed at, so this clearly never happened.

The Afridi was built with three 12-pounder quick firing guns. In 1909 she was given another pair of guns, giving her a total of five. Her existing shell rooms and magazines were large enough to carry the extra ammo, but she needed extra packing rings to carry the guns as she had rounded gunwales.

During the war she was re-armed with two 4.7in BL guns, one 2-pounder pom pom, one Maxim MG and four depth charge throwers. The change to the main guns was made in the aftermath of Jutland, when the Harwich Force and Dover Patrol both found that German destroyers on the Belgian coast had longer ranged guns than the 12-pounder.

Pre-war Career

In July 1909 the Afridi, Nubian, Crusader, Maori, Zulu and Viking were all ordered to join the First Destroyer Division as soon as they were commissioned, to replace River class boats.

The Afridi may have joined the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 2nd Division of the Home Fleet, in September 1909, although not for long.

On Thursday 14 April 1910 the Afridi and Zulu escorted the Queen and Princes Victoria as they sailed from Dover to Calais on the Royal Yacht Alexandria, at the start of a trip to the Mediterranean.

HMS Afridi from the left
HMS Afridi from the left

On Tuesday 16 August 1910 the Afridi and Amazon escorted the Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia as she crossed from Dover to Calais after staying with Queen Alexandria at Sandringham.

In 1911-1912 she was part of the 1st Destroyer Flotilla, attached to the 1st Division of the Home Fleet. The flotilla contained all twelve Tribal class destroyers. In May 1911 the flotilla paid a visit to Scottish waters, visiting Kirkwall. However this can’t have been a lengthy visit, as in mid-May the Afridi rescued some of the crew of the steam trawler Laconia which had been damaged in a collision near Yarmouth. The Afridi attempted to tow the trawler to safely, but she sank on the way.

In 1912-1914 she was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, part of the First Fleet, which contained the most modern battleships. She was fully manned in this role. The Flotilla was made up of all twelve Tribal class destroyers and eighteen Acasta or K class destroyers

In January 1914 she was part of the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla, and was commanded by Lt Edmond A.B. Stanley. 

In July 1914 she was one of twenty three destroyers in the Sixth Patrol Flotilla at Portsmouth, made up of a mix of Tribal class and old 30-knotters.

First World War

In August 1914 she was one of fifteen destroyers from the Sixth Flotilla that had moved to its war base at Dover, where the flotilla was part of the Dover Patrol.

On 5 October 1914 the SS Ardmount was lost when she strayed into a British minefield, after ignoring a warning from the Afridi, then patrolling in the area.

On 19 October 1914 the Afridi was one of four destroyers that screened the Queen, Implacable and Sapphire as they supported the Harwich Flotillas as they attempted to attack a force of German light cruisers operating up to the Broad Fourteens. The Harwich forces failed to find any German ships and returned to port early on the following day.

In November 1914 she was at sea as part of the Sixth Flotilla. She was to be fitted with a modified submarine sweep at a later date.

In January 1915 she was part of the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, one of the Patrol Flotillas.

One of her roles in this period was to guard the Dover Barrage, a minefield that was meant to block the eastern entrance to the English Channel. In late February the Viking and Afridi were posted to the north-east of the barrage, to force any submarines attempting to pass the barrage to dive. Early on 20 February the Viking spotting one of the indicator buoys moving at 5mph, and assumed that it was being towed by an enemy submarine. The Viking couldn’t stop to deploy her sweep, so she called for assistance from the Afridi. The buoys eventually sank, then reappeared. One sweep and nine TNT charges were exploded, but when the nets were pulled out of the sea, nothing to indicate a submarine had hit them was found.

On 2 March the Afridi was signalled by a drifter that had detected a possible submarine, but the methods of communication then in use were very poor, and by the time the destroyer crew realised what the drifter crew was trying to tell them, it was too late.

On 6 April the Afridi was once again patrolling around the nets when a drifter spotted a submarine (U-33). This time the signal was understood in time, but the drifter’s indicator buoy never came back to the surface, so there was no way to tell where to attack.

In June 1915 she was one of part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, which contained all but one of the Tribal class ships and a large number of the older 30-knotters.

On 23 August 1915 the Afridi was one of the destroyers that supported a naval bombardment of Zeebrugge, operating on patrol no.3.

In January 1916 she was one of fifteen destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover. At this point she doesn’t appear to have a modified sweep installed.

In October 1916 she was one of twenty five destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla, which was largely filled with Tribal class boats and older 30-knotters.

Late in 1916 it was decided to rearm the Afridi, replacing her five 12-pounders with two 4.7in guns (the 12-pounder was a 3in gun). The work hadn’t been done in April 1917, but had been completed by October 1917, when she was also listed as carrying a 2-pounder high angle pompon and a .303in Maxim machine gun. She was the only one of the 12-pounder armed Tribal class destroyers to be rearmed during the war.

In January 1917 she was still with the Sixth Flotilla, but she was one of twelve destroyers that were off station undergoing a refit.

The Afridi was part of the defensive force for the Downs when the Germans carried out a raid into Dover Straits on 20 April 1917. None of the destroyers in the Downs played a part in the events of the raid, but the Afridi did report seeing gun flashes at 12.50am

In June 1917 she was one of active twenty nine destroyers in the Sixth Flotilla, which had been enlarged with a number of more modern ships.

On 17 June 1917 the Afridi was leading the Tartar from Calais to Bologne, when the Tartar hit a recently laid German mine. 50 men, including her newly appointed commander Lt Guy Twiss were killed. The Afridi was just to the west of the swept mine free channel and on 13 October her captain was court martialed for endangering his ship, but he was acquitted with the charge not proven.

In January 1918 she was part of the large Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover, now with over forty destroyers, although ten were undergoing repairs.

In June 1918 she was one of twenty seven destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla.

In September 1918 all of the surviving Tribal class ships were given a pair of two 14 torpedo-tubes mounted at the break of the forecastle, for use in close range combat.

In November 1918 she was one of seventeen destroyers in the Sixth Destroyer Flotilla at Dover.

By the end of the war she carried four depth charges in individual chutes and two depth charge throwers.

In February 1919 she was part of the Seventh Destroyer Flotilla on the Humber.

In July 1919 the Admiralty ordered that the Tribal class destroyers Afridi, Cossack, Saracen, Tartar, Viking and Zubian should all be sold out of the Royal Navy as being no longer required for service.

By January 1920 she was listed as ‘to be sold’ in the Navy List.

The Afridi received a battle honour for operations off the Belgium Coast in 1916-17 and the raid on Ostend on 23 April 1918,

Commanders
Lt & Commander Hubert E. Gore Langton: 3 December 1912-April 1913-
Lt-Commander Edmond A.R. Stanley: 6 September 1914- 2 March 1915-
Lt in Commander Cyril J. H. Hill: 26 December 1917- December 1918-

Displacement (standard)

855t

Displacement (loaded)

1,000t

Top Speed

33 knots

Engine

3-shaft Parsons steam turbines
5 Yarrow boilers
14,000shp

Range

 

Length

250ftpp

Width

24ft 6in

Armaments

Three 12-pounder/ 12cwt QF
Two 18in Torpedo Tubes

Crew complement

68

Laid down

9 August 1906

Launched

8 May 1907

Completed

September 1909

Sold

1919

British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War, Norman Friedman. A very detailed look at the design of British destroyers from their earliest roots as torpedo boat destroyers, though the First World War and up to the start of the Second World War, supported by vast numbers of plans and well chosen photographs [read full review]
cover cover cover

Books on the First World War | Subject Index: First World War

How to cite this article: Rickard, J (30 April 2020), HMS Afridi (1907) , http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_HMS_Afridi_1907.html

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