The story of HMS Venomous

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1893 – May 1919

Describes how the invention of the torpedo led to the Torpedo Boat and the development of the Torpedo Boat Destroyer (TBD) to protect the capital ships of the world’s navies from this formidable new weapon. Rodgaard compares the evolution of the TBD and the MTBD by the great powers and compares the V & W Class of destroyers with the destroyers of the US Navy, the French Navy, the Italian and the Imperial Japanese Navy.


Comparative Table of Destroyer Characteristics.


1. Rudyard Kipling’s poem, The Destroyers, was published in 1898, and it can be found at http://www.poetryloverspage.com/poets/kipling/destroyers.html

2. Capt Wayne P. Hughes, USN Ret., Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1986, p 89. 

3. Weapon that waits is taken from the title Weapons That Wait: Mine Warfare in the U.S Navy United States Naval Institute Press, updated 1991, by Gregory K. Hartmann and Scott C. Turver. It is considered a foundational work on mine warfare at sea and the development of US Navy mine warfare.

4. Officially, a member of the Admiralty Modified W Class, 1st Group HMS Venomous was a member of the greater V and W Class of British destroyers. This class comprised six similarly designed ships. Venomous was in the last batch of the V and W Class.

5. “Engage the Enemy More Closely” was Nelson’s more favoured signal when directing the captains of his fleet in action.

6. The torpedo boat would continue to evolve as its own type of naval craft that would see wartime service in both great wars at sea during the twentieth century.

7. From an email written by Mr. Peter C. Smith dated 8 February 2009 in which he noted that both Havock and Hornet did not perform as advertised and referenced his own work on the subject: Hard Lying – The Birth of the Destroyer, 1893-1913 (Kimber, 1971). ISBN 7183 01927

8. The Wickes Class consisted of 110 ships, whilst the very near sister class, the Clemson Class, consisted of nearly 150 ships. This compares to the 67 ships of the V and W Class.

9. Germany occupied France’s industrial heartlands and supplies of steel, etc. were hard to come by.

10. Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906-1921 (Conway Maritime Press, 1985). Reprinted by the United States Naval Institute Press, 2006, pp. 268 – 270.

11. Gardiner, Robert and Gray, Randal Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships: 1906-1921 (Washington: USNI Press, 1984).

12. However, the Palestro Class was based on the earlier Japanese Kaba Class which, compared to the new Minekaze Class, was a second-rate destroyer.

13. Hughes, Fleet Tactics, p. 87.

14. According to Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906-1921, the slowest battleship class that fought for the Royal Navy at Jutland was the Bellerephon Class, which had a top speed of 20.75 knots.

15. However, Japanese torpedoes were superior to all other torpedoes of the world’s navies. This proved tragically so for the US Navy during the early days of the Second World War in the Pacific.

16. According to Conway’s Warships only a few of the German destroyers carried this size gun. However, this gun would be standard for follow-on classes of German destroyers that would see action during the Second World War.

17. The 4.7-inch gun was the naval version of the British Army’s 4.7-inch field gun.

18. The Royal Navy and the Commonwealth Navies adopted the lettering designator to indicate the position of each major gun on board, whilst the US Navy used a numerical designator that corresponded with the calibre of the gun. For example, the forward 5-inch gun on a destroyer was designated as Mount 51. For the Royal Navy it would be designated “A” gun.

19. Venomous reached 34 knots during her builder’s trials and her sisters reached comparable speeds. In CPO Collister’s account of his service on board Venomous during the Second World War he said the ship hit 34 knots, up until she was placed into reserve status and sent to the breakers.

20. Anthony Preston, V and W Class Destroyers 1917-1945, MacDonald & Co. Ltd., London, 1971, p. 19.

Continue to Notes for Chapter Two
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A Hard Fought Ship


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