|For the 1909-1910 Programme the Director of Naval Construction had complete design authorization. For that year’s destroyer class he would stipulate the hull form but let builders determine the machinery layout, as long as the stipulated
performance requirements were met. Invitations to submit tenders were sent to the builders on August 21, 1908. Provisional acceptances were sent out on October 10 and confirmation letters followed on November 14. The Admiralty kept dickering
about the price of the new ships and initially no contracts were made. Admiral Jellicoe, the new Controller, knew that construction money would be tight that year and on October 22 he issued a memorandum that because Parliament was had a tight
fist on the money bags, he wanted unit costs at 80,000 pounds sterling or less. He would accept a lower top speed if it was at least 26-knots. Builders could use reciprocating engines or turbines. They could burn coal or oil. Armament had to be at
least three 12pdr guns, later changed to 4-inch guns. By March 1909 reciprocating engines and coal as fuel had been dropped as options. By April Jellicoe changed the armament scheme to two 4-inch guns with the forward gun on a raised pedestal
as in the Beagle (G Class). Two 12 pdr guns were to be in waist positions. Longer 21-inch torpedoes were required in the two single torpedo mounts and maximum top speed was increased to 27-knots. Costs continued to dominate the discussion.
Although Jellicoe raised the maximum price to 88,000 pounds sterling, the final design came in at 82,000 pounds sterling per ship, although actual costs were higher. The design that was produced was significantly smaller than the preceding Beagle
(G Class) but packed a more powerful armament on the smaller ship. Final plans were for two 4-inch guns as opposed to one 4-inch in Beagle, two 12 pdrs and two single long 21-inch single torpedo tubes. With a 748-ton displacement and a plant
developing 13,500 horsepower the design could achieve 27-knots. Boiler rooms were dropped from three to two and four boilers were provided. The two middle boilers used a trunked funnel, which would be the second funnel with smaller 1st and
3rd funnels. The initial design had short funnels of equal height for all three. The final design was approved on July 30, 1909. With this design displacement rose to 772-tons but the range increased from 1900nm to 2250nm. The pitiful Berthons were
ditched and each ship’s boat had their own davits. The Acorn Class (after 1912 H Class) would carry two 25-foot whalers and one 13.5-foot dinghy. Complement was 72, which was 30 less than the Beagles because a large number of stokers was
no longer required with the switch to oil.
The design was called the Acorn Class, later the H Class after 1912. Eight firms were awarded contracts. Twenty Acorn Class destroyers were ordered and all except one had three propellers. The HMS Brisk was powered by Brown-Curtis turbines
and had two propellers. John Brown, the builder would only use their own turbines but they promised better performance and the Admiralty sprung for the additional 3,000 pounds sterling to try them out. All of the rest used Parsons turbines. All
used Yarrow boilers, except Redpole, Rifleman and Ruby, built by J.C. White, which used their own White-Forster boilers. All in the class easily achieved the 27-knot required speed at trials. The forward funnel of the ships had their height raised
increased by six feet to reduce smoke interfering with bridge operations. “Oscar Parkes recorded that, with the tall thin round funnel and the two broad oval ones, they were known in the service as ‘the Woodbine and two Gyppie boats,”(Hard
Lying by Peter Smith, Naval Institute Press, 1971, at page 114) The bow had an increased flare over the Beagles, which reduced the water over the bow and made them better sea boats. The Acorn Class marked a break in propulsion from the
previous British destroyers in that all were fired by oil, leaving the Beagles the last coal fired Royal Navy destroyers. This change alone saved 170-tons allowing the Acorns to carry the heavier armament. As the Acorns came into service they were
assigned to the 2nd Flotilla serving in home waters. In June 1911 nine of the class received some hull damage during steaming at full power in a strong storm of Force 4 or 5 in a test of their handling in severe weather. In the test the Beagles had no
damage. “Captain (D) considered that the Beagles pitched more than the Acorns and took in a great deal more water over the fo’c’s’le as they plunged into the swell. The Acorns appeared to fling themselves out of the water as far aft as the
bridge and then come down heavily on sea, not into it. The C.O. of Redpole stated that the sea was short and choppy on top of the swell ‘no green seas came aboard simply going along in a smother of spray’. He intended to ease down if any
signs of anything carrying away ‘when I found none were threatening...I said to myself ‘what a splendid ship and how far superior to any destroyer I have been in before for her seakeeping qualities’ .. The only slight annoyance when she
came down with a big jump the bridge compass had the unpleasant habit of turning upside down and jamming itself’. The first he knew any damage had been done to the hull was during the night when water in the oil fuel made it
impossible to burn.” (British Destroyers by Edgar J. March, Seeley Service & Co. 1966, at page 114) On HMS Hope the C.O. reported, “...a rapid hogging and sagging motion was visible when looking aft from the bridge, continuing for some
seconds and making a constant vibration in the steam pipes.” (British Destroyers by Edgar J. March, Seeley Service & Co. 1966, at page 114 ) There were concerns about their hull strength but the final conclusion was that the ships were
pushed too hard in extremely bad weather. However, hull stiffening was done to all the damaged ships, as well as the undamaged ones during their refits. From 1911 to 1913 the Acorn Class carried red funnel bands to distinguish one from the other.
After World War One began the Acorns served with the Grand Fleet until 1915 when they were sent to the Mediterranean. In August 1916 the Admiralty established a general policy of adding high angle anti-aircraft guns to the destroyers. For the H
Class and I Class, which were repeat Acorns, each ship would receive a Vickers 3 pdr HA gun. The Minstrel and Nemesis were loaned to Japan in September 1917 to escort Japanese convoys and were returned in 1919. In Japanese service they
were Sendan and Kanran. Three of the class were lost during the war. While still with the Grand Fleet the HMS Goldfinch ran aground in the fog on Sandy Island in the Orkney Islands during the night of February 18-19, 1915. The other twos
were sunk by U-boats in the Mediterranean, HMS Staunch was sunk off Gaza on November 11, 1917 and HMS Comet was sunk on August 6, 1918. The Acorns were the last British destroyers fitted with hand steering positions.