HMS Viper - The first steam turbine destroyer - Ships Nostalgia
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HMS Viper - The first steam turbine destroyer

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  #1  
Old 5th September 2005, 22:50
fred henderson's Avatar
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HMS Viper - The first steam turbine destroyer

In September 1895 the Admiralty was dismayed to learn that a French High Seas torpedo boat “Forban” had maintained 31 knots for an hour on trials. No destroyer yet built would be able to overtake her. The standard destroyers in the RN had a maximum speed of 27 Knots. Three yards were commissioned to build experimental high speed destroyers that obtained 30 to 31 knots on trials with great difficulty and considerable concern about the health of the reciprocating engines. At maximum speed the pistons were travelling at 25 ft per second and this was beyond the practical capability of late 19th Century steam engineering.
The Admiralty hoped that Charles Parsons new turbine machinery would provide the speed they needed. Parsons had spent £24,000 on research and the construction of Turbinia. (See thread under Special Purpose Vessels) He proposed to the Admiralty that he build a destroyer, about the same size as the experimental destroyers, for a price of £53,000. As this was cheaper than the experimentals, Parsons offer was accepted on 4 March 1898. Delivery was to be made in 15 months and a speed of 31 knots was guaranteed.
Parsons sub-contracted the construction of the hull and provision of the boilers to Hawthorn Leslie, but his firm took full responsibility for the design, construction and speed.
The ship was 210 ft long (bp), 21 ft beam and had a displacement of 344 tons. The machinery arrangement was 4 shafts, each with 2 propellers. The wing shafts were driven by HP turbines and the inner shafts by LP turbines. The inner shafts were also connected to reversing turbines.
The sea trials were outstandingly successful, with a one hour full power trial at 36.58 knots and a fastest run of 37.118 knots. The three hour trial gave an average speed of 34.32 knots. The ship was accepted into service in June 1900 as HMS Viper.
It was only after the ship entered service that Viper’s operational problem emerged. At full speed her coal consumption, at 3.5 miles per ton, was slightly lower than the unsuccessful reciprocating engine destroyers, but at any lower speed Viper used far more coal, only achieving 11 miles per ton at 15 knots, compared with 22 miles per ton for a reciprocating engine vessel. This resulted in her performance being dictated by the stamina of her stokers and it was decided to add another 20 stokers to her crew, which must have made on board conditions somewhat uncomfortable.
In 1901 HMS Viper took part in the August manoeuvres in the Channel Islands and travelling at speed in fog she ran over the Renonquet reef, jumping a ledge that tore out her bottom and broke her back. TB No 81 who was being chased by Viper also went onto the reef.
Despite her short life, HMS Viper convinced the Admiralty to continue the development of steam turbine propulsion.

Fred

I have a photo of HMS Viper but again the file is too large so I will post in my gallery
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Old 5th September 2005, 22:57
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Hi Fred I absolutely love these historic posts of yours, they are very interesting, please keep 'em coming.
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Derek Blair



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Old 6th September 2005, 00:03
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Thanks Derek, I will do my best to keep them interesting.

Fred
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Old 6th September 2005, 15:20
george herivel george herivel is offline  
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Hi Fred,
As a new member to the Ships Nostalgia Forums, I was interested to see this history of the Viper. I have an interest purely because I come from Alderney, C.I., off which is the Renonquet Reef lies. I used to be a fisherman around that part of the Island, and know that it actually came to rest on the Island of Burhou, about 2/300 yards from the reef. To this day it makes for a good dive or a walk at a very low spring tide, as there is plenty of small pieces of scrap still to be seen. At the time these ships had alot of copper, bronze, brass, and what my dad used to call, 'Gun Metal'. Alderney had its fair share of famous ship casualties, one of which is believed to be an Elizabethian ship.
An excellant site, keep it going,
GH
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Old 7th September 2005, 10:42
fred henderson's Avatar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by george herivel
Hi Fred,
As a new member to the Ships Nostalgia Forums, I was interested to see this history of the Viper. I have an interest purely because I come from Alderney, C.I., off which is the Renonquet Reef lies. I used to be a fisherman around that part of the Island, and know that it actually came to rest on the Island of Burhou, about 2/300 yards from the reef. To this day it makes for a good dive or a walk at a very low spring tide, as there is plenty of small pieces of scrap still to be seen. At the time these ships had alot of copper, bronze, brass, and what my dad used to call, 'Gun Metal'. Alderney had its fair share of famous ship casualties, one of which is believed to be an Elizabethian ship.
An excellant site, keep it going,
GH
Thank you for the more precise information George. Gunmetal is a copper alloy that is 88-90% copper, 15-20% tin and 2-6% zinc.

Fred
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Old 8th September 2005, 16:22
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3 former RN ships have been sold to the Chilean navy,HMS Norfolk,HMS Grafton, HMS Marlborough, all type 23 frigates, will be handed over in 2008.
HMS Sheffield that was sold in 2003 is nowthe Almirante Williams.
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