Military Wiki
HMS Ivanhoe (D16)
HMS Ivanhoe (D16) IWM FL 22376.jpg
Ivanhoe in September 1938, as part of 3rd Destroyer Flotilla
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS Ivanhoe
Namesake: Ivanhoe
Ordered: 30 October 1935
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun
Cost: £259,371
Laid down: 12 February 1936
Launched: 11 February 1937
Completed: 24 August 1937
Identification: Pennant number: D16[1]
Fate: Mined and later scuttled, 31 August–1 September 1940
General characteristics (as built)
Class & type: I-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,370 long tons (1,390 t) (standard)
1,888 long tons (1,918 t) (deep load)
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)
Propulsion: 2 shafts
Parsons geared steam turbines
3 Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers
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: 145
Sensors and
processing systems:
Armament: 4 × 1 – 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns
2 × 4 – 0.5-inch (12.7 mm) machine guns
2 × 5 – 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
30 × depth charges, 1 rail and 2 throwers
Service record
Operations: Norwegian Campaign
Action off Lofoten
Dunkirk evacuation
Victories: U-45

HMS Ivanhoe was an I-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy in 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. Before the start of World War II, the ship was modified so that she could be used to lay mines by removing some of her armament. Ivanhoe was transferred to Western Approaches Command shortly after the war began and helped to sink one German submarine in October 1939. She was converted to a minelayer while undergoing a refit in November–December and laid minefields in German coastal waters as well as anti-submarine minefields off the British coast until she was reconverted back to her destroyer configuration in February 1940. Ivanhoe reverted to her minelaying role during the Norwegian Campaign in April 1940 and then laid a number of minefields off the Dutch coast during the Battle of the Netherlands in May. The ship participated in the Dunkirk evacuation until she was badly damaged by German aircraft on 1 June. On her first minelaying mission after her repairs were completed, she struck a German mine and had to be scuttled on 1 September 1940 during the Texel Disaster.


Ivanhoe displaced 1,370 long tons (1,390 t) at standard load and 1,888 long tons (1,918 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). Steam for the turbines was provided by three Admiralty 3-drum water-tube boilers. Ivanhoe 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 145 officers and enlisted men in peacetime.[1]

The ship mounted four 45-calibre 4.7-inch Mk IX guns in single mounts, designated 'A', 'B', 'X', and 'Y' from front to rear. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, Ivanhoe had two quadruple Mark I mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mk III machine gun. She was fitted with two above-water quintuple torpedo tube mounts for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[1] One depth charge rail and two throwers were fitted; 30 depth charges were originally carried,[2] but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[3] She was one of the four I-class destroyers fitted with minelaying equipment in late 1938 – January 1939 at Malta. This consisted of mounts for rails on the deck on which to carry the mines and an electric winch to move the mines down the rails. A pair of sponsons were added to the stern to allow the mines to clear the propellers when dropped into the sea. 'A' and 'Y' guns and both sets of torpedo tubes were modified to allow them to be removed to compensate for the weight of the mines.[4] The ship could carry a maximum of 72 mines.[5] Ivanhoe was fitted with the ASDIC sound detection system to locate submarines underwater.[6]

Service history

The ship was ordered from Yarrow Shipbuilders at Scotstoun on 30 October 1935 under the 1935 Naval Programme. The ship was laid down on 12 February 1936 and launched on 11 February 1937[7] as the second Royal Navy warship to carry the name.[8] Ivanhoe was completed on 24 August 1937 and cost £259,371 excluding items supplied by Admiralty such as guns and communications equipment.[7] She was assigned to the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla of the Mediterranean Fleet upon commissioning and participated in training exercises with the French Navy in December through January 1938. The ship was forced to leave these exercises prematurely as she had problems with the tubes in her superheaters. These were replaced at Malta from 15 January–19 March. Afterwards, Ivanhoe was transferred to Gibraltar where she patrolled Spanish waters enforcing the policies of the Non-Intervention Committee until the end of the war. She was in Cartagena in February–March 1939 to protect British citizens and interests as foreigners, Republican troops and their supporters evacuated the city.[9]

Ivanhoe was in transit between Alexandria and Malta when World War II began in September 1939, but she was in Plymouth on 14 September as the entire 3rd Destroyer Flotilla had been transferred to the Western Approaches Command for escort duties.[9] Together with her sisters, Inglefield, Intrepid, and Icarus, the ship sank the German submarine U-45 on 14 October.[10] She was refitted at Sheerness Dockyard and converted to a minelayer from 14 November–13 December. Ivanhoe was transferred to the specialist minelaying 20th Destroyer Flotilla on 12 December and laid her first minefield, along with the other three ships of the flotilla, at the mouth of the Ems estuary on the night of 17/18 December. Another minefield was laid on the night of 2/3 January 1940 by Ivanhoe and Intrepid and they then laid a series of anti-submarine minefields later in the month.[11] The ship replaced her guns and torpedo tubes at Portland from 27 January–3 February and resumed her former duties.[9]

In early April, Ivanhoe and three other destroyer minelayers were escorted by the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla as they laid mines as part of Operation Wilfred, an operation to lay mines in the Vestfjord to prevent the shipment of Swedish iron ore from Narvik to Germany. The mines were laid on the early morning of 8 April, before the Germans began their invasion, and the destroyers joined the battlecruiser HMS Renown and her escorts after they each successfully laid their 60 mines. The ship was present during, but played no significant part in, Renown's brief engagement off Lofoten with the German battleships Scharnhorst and Gneisenau on 9 April.[12] Later in the month, the ship carried troops of the 15th Infantry Brigade to Åndalsnes. Ivanhoe then loaded mines and laid a minefield in the approaches to Trondheim, together with Icarus and Impulsive,[13] on the night of 29/30 April.[14]

After a boiler cleaning from 7–15 May, Ivanhoe, Esk, and Express, laid 164 mines off the Hook of Holland on the night of 15/16 May. Three German minesweepers were later sunk by this minefield on 26 July. Three nights later, the same three ships, reinforced by Intrepid, Impulsive, and the auxiliary minelayer Princess Victoria laid a minefield off the Dutch coast. Princess Victoria struck a German mine on the voyage home and was sunk; the destroyers rescued the ship's survivors. They laid five more minefields off the Dutch coast before the end of the month.[15] On 29 May, the ship was transferred to the Dunkirk evacuation effort and ferried 930 troops to Dover that day. She also took aboard the crew of the badly damaged destroyer Grafton and then scuttled Grafton. She was withdrawn from the evacuation on 30 May as too valuable to risk, but this decision was reversed the following day and Ivanhoe evacuated 1,290 men to Dover.[16] On the morning of 1 June, already having loaded troops, the ship was attacked off Dunkirk harbour by German aircraft. Two bombs missed to port and starboard, but the third detonated above the upper deck and flooded the two forward boiler rooms. The bomb killed 26, including five soldiers, and wounded many others.[9] Most of the troops and wounded were taken off by the minesweeper Speedwell and the destroyer Havant.[17] No. 3 boiler room was still operable and the ship reached Dover under her own power.[9]

Repairs at Sheerness lasted until 28 August and she was converted back into a minelayer at Immingham from 28–31 August as she was transferred back to the 20th Destroyer Flotilla. That night, she sailed with Intrepid, Icarus, Esk and Express to lay a minefield off the Dutch coast, north of Texel. Express hit a mine in a newly-laid German field that night and had her bow blown off. Ivanhoe closed to assist her and struck another mine shortly afterwards. The explosion knocked out her power for several hours, but the ship was able to raise steam by 01:45 on 1 September. She reached a speed of 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) while steaming backwards to lessen the stress on her damaged bow. However, about 04:00, either her propellers fell off or her propeller shafts fractured, and she lost all speed. Around 08:00, four motor torpedo boats arrived; three of these loaded all but 37 men of the ship's crew while the fourth stayed with the destroyer to recover the remaining crewmen. Ivanhoe continued to take on water and started to list. Early in the afternoon, she lost all power to her pumps and the captain ordered the ship abandoned after opening her valves to speed her sinking. Shortly afterwards, Ivanhoe was discovered and damaged by a German aircraft, but still did not sink. She had to be scuttled by a torpedo fired by the destroyer Kelvin later in the afternoon.[18] The ship quickly sank afterwards at position 53°26′42″N 03°45′24″E / 53.445°N 3.75667°E / 53.445; 3.75667Coordinates: 53°26′42″N 03°45′24″E / 53.445°N 3.75667°E / 53.445; 3.75667.[9]

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Whitley, p. 111
  2. Friedman, p. 299
  3. English, p. 141
  4. Smith, pp. 112–13
  5. Friedman, p. 230
  6. Hodges and Friedman, p. 16
  7. 7.0 7.1 English, pp. 114–15
  8. Colledge and Warlow, p. 176
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 English, p. 126
  10. Rohwer, p. 6
  11. Smith, pp. 125–31
  12. Haarr 2009, p. 65, 308, 337, 352
  13. Haarr 2010, pp. 87–88
  14. Smith, p. 142
  15. Smith, pp. 144–46
  16. Winser, pp. 17, 20, 89
  17. Winser, p. 28
  18. Smith, pp. 155–62


  • 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. OCLC 67375475. 
  • English, John (1993). Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s. Kendal, England: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-64-9. 
  • Friedman, Norman (2009). British Destroyers From Earliest Days to the Second World War. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-081-8. 
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2010). The Battle for Norway: April – June 1940. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-051-1. 
  • Haarr, Geirr H. (2009). The German Invasion of Norway, April 1940. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-1-59114-310-9. 
  • Hodges, Peter; Friedman, Norman (1979). Destroyer Weapons of World War 2. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 978-0-85177-137-3. 
  • 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. 
  • Smith, Peter C. (2005). Into the Minefields: British Destroyer Minelaying 1918–1980. Barnsley, South Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books. ISBN 1-84415-271-5. 
  • Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War 2. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1. 
  • Winser, John de D. (1999). B.E.F. Ships Before, At and After Dunkirk. Gravesend, Kent: World Ship Society. ISBN 0-905617-91-6. 

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