Military Wiki
HMS Laertes (1913)
HMS Laertes
HMS Laertes
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Laertes
Builder: Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend
Launched: 5 June 1913, as HMS Sarpedon
Renamed: HMS Laertes, 30 September 1913
Fate: Sold for scrapping, 1 December 1921
General characteristics
Class & type: Laforey class destroyer
Displacement: 965–1,003 long tons (980–1,019 t)
Length: 269 ft (82 m)
Beam: 26 ft 9 in (8.15 m)
Draught: 9 ft 6 in (2.90 m)
Propulsion: Water-tube boilers
Parsons steam turbines
24,500 shp (18.3 MW)
2 shafts
Speed: 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph)
Complement: 77
Armament: • 3 × QF 4-inch (100 mm) Mk IV guns, mounting P Mk. IX
• 1 × QF 2 pdr pom-pom Mk. II
• 2 × twin 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

HMS Laertes was a Laforey-class destroyer of the Royal Navy.


She was launched from the yards of Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson, Wallsend, on 5 June 1913 under the name HMS Sarpedon. She was renamed HMS Laertes on 30 September 1913. She possessed three 4-inch guns and four torpedo tubes, and was designed to operate in British coastal waters against enemy surface and submarine shipping.


Laertes became part of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla based at Harwich.

She took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28 August 1914, where she was seriously damaged suffering four shell strikes. The most serious struck the boiler room, temporarily cutting off all steam supplies to the engines leaving the ship motionless. Another shot destroyed the middle funnel, while a gun was also hit. While Laertes was seriously damaged and stopped in the water, Lapwing went to her aid under heavy fire. Lieutenant Commander Gye manoeuvred to pass a tow, but in getting underway the towing hawser parted.[1] Laertes was saved only by the arrival of the battle cruiser Lion.[2] The ship managed to restore some power but had to be towed back to England.[1][3]

File:Lapwing and Laertes.jpg

Lapwing attempts to take Laertes in tow during the Battle of Heligoland Bight.

Laertes was one of the destroyers of the Harwich squadron which attempted to head off attacking German ships during the Bombardment of Yarmouth and Lowestoft on 25 April 1916. The ship was hit by shellfire damaging the boiler room, and would most likely have sunk except for the actions of Stoker Ernest Clarke. Clarke later died from burns received while saving the ship and was posthumously awarded the distinguished service medal.[4] Five of the crew were injured during the attack. Stoker Petty Officer Stephen Pritchard, who entered the cabin flat immediately after a shell had exploded there, and worked a fire hose, was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.[5]

In 1917 she was transferred to escort duties. She was sold on 1 December 1921 to Stanlee, of Dover for breaking up. She stranded whilst being towed to the breakers, but arrived on 8 March 1922. She was scrapped that year.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Osborne, Eric W (2006). "The Battle of Heligoland Bight". Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 103. ISBN 9780253347428. 
  2. "Deeds That Thrill the Empire: True Stories of the Most Glorious Acts of Heroism of the Empire's Soldiers and Sailors during the Great War". Ludgate Hill, London: The Standard Art Book Co Ltd. 1920. p. 737. 
  3. "Battle of Heligoland Bite, Laertes damaged". 1914-08-29. pp. 8. 
  4. London Gazette No. 6213, 22nd June 1916
  5. Pritchard was later killed in the sinking of HMS Torrent in December 1917. Torrent had struck a naval mine in the North Sea near the Maas light buoy. He is commemorated on the Chatham Naval Memorial.

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