HMS Velox - the third turbine experimental destroyer.

fred henderson
8th September 2005, 20:53
Within a month of the loss of the Cobra in September 1901(see thread HMS Cobra) the Controller of the Navy sent a memo to the Senior Naval Lord: I think we must thoroughly try the turbine before we generally adopt it and the sooner the better. This memo shows the strength of support in parts of the Admiralty for the new propulsion system, despite the problems and set backs experienced with Viper and Cobra.
While arguments about the use of the turbine in destroyers raged within the Admiralty, Parsons commissioned a new experimental destroyer on spec from Hawthorn Leslie. The construction of the ship was financed by C J Leyland, one of Parsons directors. The ship had very similar dimensions to Viper but there were some changes to the machinery layout. The LP and astern turbines were in one and the space saved was used to provide two 150 hp reciprocating engines, in line and coupled to an extension to the LP shaft for speeds up to 12 knots. The ship was also equipped with a hand operated retractable bow rudder for going astern.
The new ship was launched in February 2002 but the Admiralty continued to haggle. Eventually the Admiralty sent an inspection team to view the almost completed ship. They found one serious defect, in that the condensers and circulating pump were above the water line, this design fault was probably a consequence of the loss of Parsons most senior engineers in the Cobra tragedy and the defect was to cause endless trouble in service. Nevertheless, the Admiralty eventually agreed to pay 67,000 for the ship and she became HMS Velox.
On trials Velox achieved a maximum of 34.25 knots and the ship behaved splendidly, but because of stoker fatigue, the four hour trial produced an average speed of only 27.25 knots. The ship was burning 10 tons of coal per hour.
Generally Velox produced no more information than had been obtained during the brief life of Viper. The slow speed engines achieved 10.36 knots burning 8.5 cwt per hour, but with plans to increase the fleet cruising speed to 15 knots, this was too slow. The reciprocating engines were later replaced with cruising turbines but without much improvement in efficiency. In 1909, Velox was removed from the active fleet and assigned as an instructional vessel attached to HMS Vernon.
HMS Velox was a great disappointment, and it is a credit to the Admiralty that despite this set back the RN continued its steam turbine programme.


Once again I have posted a photo of Velox in my gallery

8th November 2005, 18:04
Dear Fred

Just wanted to mention that HMS Amerthyst, a light cruiser, was launched (from memory) in 1903. I understand that this was the first successful turbine powered warship and was retained by the RN until 1920 odd.

My point being that the Admiralty appear to have been wholly committed to turbines, which is the thrust of your arguement.

fred henderson
8th November 2005, 19:45
A very good point Navybrat. Amethyst, launched by Armstrongs in Elswick on 5 November 1903, completed 17 March 1905, was the first warship larger than a destroyer to be fitted with turbines. The Admiralty wanted to undertake comparative trials with Amethyst and her three triple expansion powered sisters.
Turbines had better fuel consumption figures at high powers but were worse at low powers. To compensate for this, Amathyst was fitted with cruising turbines, which gave her a range of 5,500 nautical miles at 10 knots, compared with 7,000 nm achieved by her sisters. On the other hand at 20 knots her range was 3000 nm compared with 2000 nm for her TE powered sisters.
The contractual speed for the ships in the class was 21.75 knots. All achieved over 22 knots on trials, Amethyst recording 23.4 knots. She also proved to be the most reliable in service.
The Admiralty was convinced that turbines were the way forward. The problem was performance was governed by the stamina of the stokers. The answer was to forget domestic mined coal and change over to imported oil fuel. As can be imagined there was a huge debate about that move.


14th November 2005, 20:19
Hms Velox

14th November 2005, 20:25
HMS Amethyst, Topaze class light cruiser:
Topaze 1903
Amethyst 1903
Diamond 1904
Sapphire 1904

5th July 2010, 21:15
Has anyone got a photo of the 1903 HMS Velox?

16th November 2012, 11:32
My father's service record shows him to be have been on Velox from 25 Nov 1931 to 25 Nov 1931. Is anybody able to shed any light on where the ship might have been at that time? Accounting Base was Pembroke.