HMS Imperial (D09)

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HMS Imperial, September 1937
HMS Imperial in September 1937, wearing the three black bands of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla on her aft funnel
United Kingdom
Name: Imperial
Ordered: 30 October 1935
Builder: Hawthorn Leslie and Company
Cost: £257,117
Laid down: 22 January 1936
Launched: 11 December 1936
Commissioned: 30 June 1937
Identification: Pennant number: D09/I09
  • Deum cole Regem serva
  • ("Honour God, Serve the King")
Honours and
  • Atlantic 1939
  • Mediterranean
  • Norway 1940
  • Crete 1941
Fate: Scuttled, 29 May 1941
Badge: On a Field Purple, two sceptres in saltire, surrmounted by an orb gold.
General characteristics (as built)
Class and type: I-class destroyer
Length: 323 ft (98.5 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10.1 m)
Draught: 12 ft 6 in (3.8 m)
Installed power:
Propulsion: 2 shafts, 2 geared steam turbines
Speed: 35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph)
Range: 5,500 nmi (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph)
Complement: 145
Sensors and
processing systems:
Service record
Commanders: Lt.Cmdr. Charles Arthur de Winton Kitcat

HMS Imperial was one of nine I-class destroyers built for the Royal Navy during the 1930s. She was scuttled by HMS Hotspur in 1941 after she had been crippled by Italian bombers.


The I-class ships were improved versions of the preceding H-class. They displaced 1,370 long tons (1,390 t) at standard load and 1,888 long tons (1,918 t) at deep load. The ships had an overall length of 323 feet (98.5 m), a beam of 33 feet (10.1 m) and a draught of 12 feet 6 inches (3.8 m). They were powered by two Parsons geared steam turbines, each driving one propeller shaft, using steam provided by three Admiralty three-drum boilers. The turbines developed a total of 34,000 shaft horsepower (25,000 kW) and were intended to give a maximum speed of 35.5 knots (65.7 km/h; 40.9 mph).[1] Icarus reached a speed of 35.1 knots (65.0 km/h; 40.4 mph) from 33,880 shp (25,260 kW) during her sea trials.[2] The ships carried enough fuel oil to give them a range of 5,500 nautical miles (10,200 km; 6,300 mi) at 15 knots (28 km/h; 17 mph). Their crew numbered 145 officers and ratings.[1]

The ships mounted four 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark IX guns in single mounts, designated 'A', 'B', 'X' and 'Y' from bow to stern. For anti-aircraft (AA) defence, they had two quadruple mounts for the 0.5 inch Vickers Mark III machine gun. The I class was fitted with two above-water quintuple torpedo tube mounts amidships for 21-inch (533 mm) torpedoes.[3] One depth charge rack and two throwers were fitted; 16 depth charges were originally carried,[1] but this increased to 35 shortly after the war began.[4] The I-class ships were fitted with the ASDIC sound detection system to locate submarines underwater.[5]

Construction and career[edit]

The ship was ordered under the 1935 Build Programme from Hawthorn Leslie, Hebburn, on 30 October 1935 with a delivery date of 30 April 1937. The ship was laid down on 26 January 1936 and launched on 11 December the same year, and was the first RN warship to carry the name. Imperial was completed late, on 30 June 1937, after a delay in the delivery of the gun mountings. The contract price was £257,117 excluding items supplied by Admiralty such as guns and communication equipment.[6]

Imperial took part in the Norwegian Campaign and in August 1940 was redeployed to escort convoys to Malta. On 28 May 1941, Italian bombers from 41 Gruppo attacked Imperial and inflicted severe damage. Once it was ascertained that the vessel was damaged beyond repair, it was scuttled 55 nautical miles (102 km; 63 mi) east of Kassos.


  1. ^ a b c Lenton, p. 161
  2. ^ March, p. 315
  3. ^ Whitley, p. 111
  4. ^ English, p. 141
  5. ^ Hodges & Friedman, p. 16
  6. ^ Mason, Geoffrey B. (2010). "HMS Imperial, destroyer". Service Histories of Royal Navy Warships in World War II. Retrieved 12 March 2011.