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HMS Opal (1915)
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Opal
Builder: William Doxford & Sons, Sunderland
Launched: 11 September 1915
Fate: Wrecked on 12 January 1918
General characteristics
Class & type: Admiralty M-class destroyer
Displacement: 994 long tons (1,010 t) standard
1,042 long tons (1,059 t) full load
Length: 269 ft (82 m)
Beam: 27 ft 6 in (8.38 m)
Draught: 8 ft 8 in (2.64 m) mean
10 ft 6 in (3.20 m) maximum
Propulsion: 3 shafts, steam turbines, 25,000 shp (18,642 kW)
Speed: 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
Range: 237–298 tons fuel oil
Complement: 80
Armament: • 3 × QF 4 in (100 mm) Mark IV guns, mounting P Mk. IX
• 3 × single QF 2 pdr "pom-pom" Mk. II
• 2 × twin 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes

HMS Opal was an Admiralty M class destroyer of the Royal Navy. She served in the First World War following her construction at Sunderland in 1915. Attached to the 12th Destroyer Flotilla based with the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, Opal had an eventful short life, which ended in shipwreck after two and a half years of service.

Opal took part in the Battle of Jutland with the Grand Fleet, during which she was engaged with the German High Seas Fleet, and both attacked and was attacked during the general action, in the course of which she lost several squadron mates. She also participated in other major fleet sorties during the next two years as well as pursuing her regular duties of minesweeping, convoy protection and anti-submarine patrols in the North Sea.

On 12 January 1918, Opal joined her sister ship Narborough and the light cruiser Boadicea in a night patrol to hunt German auxiliary warships suspected to be laying mines on the Scottish coast. By 17:30, the weather had deteriorated to such an extreme degree that the destroyers were in danger of swamping and foundering and visibility was near zero. Fearing that her companions might sink, Boadicea ordered Opal and Narborough back to Scapa Flow while she continued alone. For the next four hours, Opal regularly sent reports indicating her course and intention to return, but at 21:27, a garbled message stating have run aground was received, followed by silence. The weather was so atrocious that no vessels could be despatched until the following morning, and it was two days before Opal was found, battered, broken and empty on the Clett of Crura. Narborough was found in a similar position nearby. One survivor — William Sissons — was later located on a small islet, and he related that the ships had been sailing a regular slow course making frequent soundings and radio reports, but had suddenly crashed headlong into the rocks, probably due to a navigation error by Opal's captain. Both wrecks were abandoned and broken up by the sea over the next few weeks taking the bodies of both crews, bar the single survivor, with them.

External links

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