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HMS Lance (G87)
HMS Lance.jpg
Career Royal Navy Ensign
Class and type: L class destroyer
Name: HMS Lance
Ordered: 31 March 1938
Builder: Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun, Glasgow
Laid down: 1 March 1939
Launched: 28 November 1940
Commissioned: 13 May 1941
Fate: Damaged by bombs on 5 and 9 April 1942. Declared a constructive total loss and scrapped.
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,920 tons
Length: 362.5 ft (110.5 m)
Beam: 36.7 ft (11.2 m)
Draught: 10 ft (3.0 m)
Propulsion: Two shafts
Two geared steam turbines
Two drum type boilers
48000 shp (35.8 MW)
Speed: 36 kt (66.7 km/h)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 221
Notes: Badge: On a Field barry wavy of four White and Blue, issuant from the base a Lance Red.

HMS Lance was an L-class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She entered service during World War II, and had a short but eventful career, serving in Home waters and the Mediterranean Sea. She was damaged in two consecutive air attacks at Malta in 1942. She was towed back to Britain, declared a constructive total loss and was scrapped. She had been adopted by the civil community of Bexley and Welling, Kent in November 1941.

Construction and commissioning

Lance was ordered from the yards of Yarrow Shipbuilders, Scotstoun, Glasgow on 31 March 1938 under the 1937 Naval Estimates. She was laid down on 1 March 1939 at the same time as her sister, HMS Laforey. She was launched on 28 November 1940 and commissioned on 13 May 1941. She cost £440,204, excluding items such as weapons and communications equipment supplied by the Admiralty. On commissioning she was assigned to the 4th Destroyer Flotilla.


Home waters

Once commissioned, Lance was based at Scapa Flow with other ships of the Home Fleet. On 22 May she escorted the battleship HMS King George V in the search for the German battleship Bismarck. She suffered machinery defects whilst at sea and was detached from the Home Fleet units and returned to Scapa Flow. She rejoined the search on 26 May, and then escorted King George V back to the UK after the sinking of the Bismarck.

In June she was assigned to the Western Approaches Command with the 11th Escort Group, based at Greenock. On 22 June she and HMS Legion escorted the aircraft carrier HMS Furious through the Atlantic Ocean to Gibraltar as part of an operation to deliver aircraft to Malta. She continued to participate in the operation, escorting HMS Ark Royal and other units of the Mediterranean Fleet to Malta throughout the month. She returned to Greenock in July and resumed escort and convoy defence duties.


August was spent escorting convoys through the North Western Approaches before she returned to Gibraltar at the end of the month to escort convoys into the Mediterranean. She continued to screen the convoys to Malta and was part of the escort for the convoys of Operation Halberd. During this the ships came under heavy air and submarine attack, but managed to reach Malta. After this success, Lance returned to Gibraltar with the other ships of the Fleet. She began a maintenance period on 1 October, which lasted until 12 October. She then joined Force K, which was tasked with intercepting enemy supply convoys on passage to North Africa. On 9 November the taskforce engaged a convoy which consisted of seven ships escorted by the Italian destroyers Fulmine, Euro, Maestrale, Libeccio, Oriano and Gregale, covered by the cruisers Trento and Trieste. In the ensuing battle, that would become known as the Battle of the Duisburg Convoy, all of the merchant vessels and the Fulmine were sunk.

On 23 November Lance left Malta with the rest of Force K, after reports of a convoy on passage from Taranto to Benghazi. On 24 November they sighted the German supply ships Maritza and Procidas with an escort of two Italian torpedo boats. Both merchants were set on fire and sunk. After a brief period docked in Malta, Lance returned to convoy escort duties. On 17 December she became involved in the First Battle of Sirte. On 19 December she assisted in rescue operations after several ships of Force K ran into a newly laid Italian minefield. With HMS Havock she escorted HMS Exeter back to Malta. HMS Kandahar and HMS Neptune were sunk, whilst HMS Aurora and HMS Penelope were badly damaged.

Lance spent January 1942 escorting convoys in the Mediterranean and in February she was transferred to the 22nd Destroyer Flotilla. Further escort duties follows. On 13 February she was escorting Convoy MW-9 when it came under air attack. The SS Clan Campbell was badly damaged and was detached to make her way to Tobruk, escorted by two destroyers. Further air attacks followed the next day and the convoy suffered heavy losses. Lance remained with the convoy until 15 February when she sailed to Malta with HMS Penelope and HMS Legion. On 16 February she was moved to the dockyard to undergo repairs.


In March Lance was docked for repairs which were expected to last until April. On 5 April she was hit by a bomb dropped during an air raid on the docks. She sustained serious damage, including being knocked off the blocks and being partially submerged. On 9 April she suffered further bomb damage and work was suspended. Her wreck was subsequently salvaged and towed to Chatham Dockyard for a full survey to establish the extent of repair that would be required to return her to service. She was found to be beyond economical repair and was declared a Constructive Total Loss. HMS Lance was placed on the Disposal List in 1944 and was sold for demolition by TW Ward. She was towed to the breaker’s yard at Grays, Essex, where she arrived in June that year.


  1. Destroyer Weapons of WW2, Hodges/Friedman, p40, ISBN 0-85177-137-8

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