Military Wiki
Tribal-class destroyer (1905)
HMS Crusader WWI IWM Q 018253.jpg
Class overview
Name: Tribal (or F)
Operators:  Royal Navy
Preceded by: River-class
Succeeded by: Beagle (or G) class
Built: 1905–1908
In commission: 1907–1920
Completed: 12
General characteristics
Type: Destroyer
Displacement: 860 - 940 tons
Length: 275 ft (84 m)
Beam: 28 ft (8.5 m)
Draught: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Propulsion: 2 or 3 shaft steam turbines, 12,500 shp (9,300 kW)
90 tons oil
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h; 38 mph)

5 × QF 12 pdr 12 cwt Mark I, mounting P Mark I
2 × BL 4 in L/40 Mark VIII, mounting P Mark V

2 × single tubes for 18-inch (450-mm) torpedoes

The Tribal or F class was a class of destroyer built for the Royal Navy. Twelve ships were built between 1905 and 1908 and all saw service during World War I, where they saw action in the North Sea and English Channel as part of the 6th Flotilla and Dover Patrols.


The preceding River or E class destroyers of 1903 had made 25.5 knots (47.2 km/h) on the 7,000 ihp (5,200 kW) provided by triple expansion steam engines and coal-fired boilers. In November 1904, the First Sea Lord "Jackie" Fisher proposed that the next class of destroyers should make at least 33 knots (61 km/h) and should use oil-fired boilers and steam turbines as a means of achieving this. This resulted in a larger ship to provide the required doubling of installed power over their predecessors, but also pushed the design to the limits of capability of contemporary technology. As a result, the Tribals were severely compromised and a somewhat retrograde step after the excellent River class; they were lightly built and proved to be fragile in service. More alarmingly however, they were only provided with 90 tons of bunkerage, and with high fuel consumption resulting from the unheard of power of 12,500 shp (9,300 kW), they were very uneconomical and had a severely limited radius of action; Afridi and Amazon once used 9.5 tons of oil each simply to raise steam for a three-mile (5 km) return journey to a fuel depot.

Design details were left to the individual builders, as was Royal Navy practice at the time for destroyers. As a result there was some heterogeneity of appearance, with the number of funnels varying from three to six in Viking; the latter, with two single and two pairs of funnels becoming the only six-funneled destroyer ever built. With a light mainmast aft, they were the first British destroyers to have two masts.

Armament was increased over the E class from four to five QF 12 pounder guns, with the number of torpedoes remaining at two 18-inch (450-mm) tubes. From the sixth ship, Saracen, onwards, however, the armament was again increased, to a pair of BL 4-inch (101.6 mm) guns, with one gun mounted on a small shelter deck forward and another on the quarterdeck.


Five vessels were ordered and built under the 1905-06 Programme.

  • Afridi, built by Vickers Armstrong, Newcastle upon Tyne, launched 8 May 1907, sold for breaking up 1919
  • Cossack, built by Cammell-Laird, Birkenhead, launched 16 February 1907, sold for breaking up 1919
  • Ghurka, built by Hawthorn, Newcastle upon Tyne, launched 29 April 1907, mined and sunk off Dungeness Buoy 8 February 1917
  • Mohawk, built by J S White, Cowes, launched 15 March 1907
  • Tartar, built by J I Thornycroft, Woolston, launched 25 June 1907, sold for breaking up 1921

Five more vessels were proposed, but only two were ordered and built under the 1906-07 Programme.

  • Amazon, built by J I Thornycroft, Woolston, launched 29 July 1908, sold for breaking up 1919
  • Saracen, built by J S White, Cowes, launched 31 March 1908, sold for breaking up 1919

A final five vessels were ordered and built under the 1907-08 Programme.

  • Crusader, built by J S White, Cowes, launched 20 March 1909, sold for breaking up 1920
  • Maori, built by William Denny & Brothers, Dumbarton, completed May 24, 1909, mined and sunk off Wirlingen Light Ship, Zeebrugge, 7 May 1915
  • Nubian, built by J I Thornycroft, Woolston, launched 21 April 1909, torpedoed and damaged by German destroyers in action off Folkestone, 27 October 1916
  • Viking, built by Palmers, Jarrow, launched 14 September 1909, sold for breaking up 1919
  • Zulu, built by Hawthorn, Newcastle upon Tyne, launched 16 September 1909, mined and damaged 27 October 1916

Following the damage to Nubian and Zulu in October 1916, it was proposed on 8 November 1916 that the two undamaged 'ends' might be joined together, which was completed at Chatham Royal Dockyard 7 June 1917 by joining the undamaged fore section of Zulu and the rear section of Nubian respectively. The resulting destroyer was commissioned on 7 June 1917 as Zubian, which was sold for scrapping 1919.


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