HMS Fox (1893)

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Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Fox
Operator: Royal Navy
Launched: 15 June 1893
Commissioned: 1896
Decommissioned: March 1919
Fate: Sold for scrap 1920
General characteristics
Class and type: Astraea-class protected cruiser
Displacement: 4,360 tons loaded
Length: 320 ft (98 m)
Beam: 49 ft 6 in (15.09 m)
Draught: 19 ft (5.8 m)
Propulsion: 2 shaft, 3 cycle TE, 8 cylinder boilers
7500 hp natural draught; 9500 hp forced draught
Coal 1000 tons maximum load

18 knots (33 km/h) natural draught

19.5 knots (36.1 km/h) forced draught
Range: 7,000 nautical miles
Complement: 44

2 × QF 6 in (152 mm)
8 × QF 4.7 inch (120mm) guns
1 × QF 3 pounder

4 × 18 in (457 mm) torpedo tubes
Armour: Deck 2 inch
Conning tower 3 inch
Gunshields 4.5 inch
engine hatch 5 inch

HMS Fox was a second class protected cruiser of the Astraea-class of the Royal Navy. The class represented an improvement on previous types, 1,000 tons displacement larger with better seaworthiness due to improved hull design. It also had somewhat increased fire-power and superior arrangement of guns.

Ships of this category were designed for overseas duty where they were unlikely to encounter first class opposition. They were useful for showing the flag, suppressing piracy, escorting convoys during war time, supporting colonial governments, and generally intimidating minor powers. They had some use in countering armed merchant cruisers of a hostile navy.

Fox was sheathed in wood and copper, to fit her for tropical waters. The hull of an unsheathed steel vessel operating in warm waters would usually become so encrusted with barnacles that its speed would be seriously affected within six months.[1]

By 1906, Fox was serving on the East Indies Station, but was paid off in January 1907 and sent to the reserve fleet. In May 1908, she was recommissioned for the Home Fleet. In June 1908, she was sent once more to the East Indies were she served until 1914.

On the outbreak of the First World War Fox was 18 years old and obsolete, but continued in active service. Off Colombo, Ceylon, she captured two German merchant ships, the Australia on 10 August 1914, and the Holtenfels on 11 August 1914.

Fox was subsequently assigned to support Indian and British troops in their unsuccessful attack on the port of Tanga in German East Africa on 3 and 4 November 1914. She then participated in the hunt for the German light cruiser SMS Königsberg and participated in a raid on Dar-es-Salaam where she bombarded the city. In January 1915 Fox was part of the force which occupied Mafia Island.

Fox served in the East Indies and Egypt from 1915 to 1917, and then in the Red Sea in 1917 to 1918. Fox played a critical role while in the Red Sea in supporting the Arab Revolt against the Ottoman Empire, flying the flag of William Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork.

The ship was sold in 1920 and scrapped in Watchet Harbour in the autumn of 1923.