HMS Exmouth (H02)

HMS Exmouth (H02)

HMS "Exmouth" was an E class destroyer flotilla leader of the Royal Navy. She served during the Second World War.

Construction and commissioning

"Exmouth" was ordered on 1 November1932 under the 1931 Naval Programme, and was laid down at Portsmouth Dockyard on 15 March1933. She was launched on 15 February1934, named the following day, and commissioned for service on 11 November 1934.

Pre-war career

On commissioning "Exmouth" was assigned as leader of the 5th Destroyer Flotilla, with the Home Fleet. She joined the flotilla at Scapa Flow in December, and spent the period between January and July 1935 carrying out exercises. The increased tensions between Italy and Abyssinia, eventually leading to the outbreak of the Second Italo-Abyssinian War, caused the Admiralty to nominate the flotilla for service in the Mediterranean. They joined the Mediterranean Fleet in August and spent September on exercises. "Exmouth" put in to Alexandria on 4 October to begin a refit, which lasted until December. After her return to service in January 1936 "Exmouth" continued to carry out exercises with the flotilla, until returning to Britain in March.

After spending time with the Home Fleet, the flotilla sailed to the Spanish coast in August, following the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. The flotilla remained on this station, protecting British shipping and enforcing an arms embargo. "Exmouth" again returned to Britain for a refit at Portsmouth, which lasted until January 1937. She returned to the flotilla off the Spanish coast, where they remained until April. They were then reassigned to the Home Fleet, and on 20 May they were amongst the ships assembled for the Coronation Fleet Review by HM King George VI. The ships then returned to operating with the Home Fleet and carrying out a visits programme, until they were reassigned to the western Mediterranean in October.

The flotilla was active in the Mediterranean until February 1938, when they rejoined the Home Fleet. With the Munich crisis in September the flotilla prepared for war service. On 21 November "Exmouth" again underwent a refit at Portsmouth. In January 1939 the flotilla returned to the Mediterranean, returning in March. On 28 April "Exmouth" had her complement reduced and she was assigned to training duties and local flotilla work based at Portsmouth. She carried out these duties until July, when she was ordered to take up her war station as leader of the 12th Destroyer Flotilla. Her full complement was re-established by 2 August and she prepared for combat.

Wartime career and sinking

She spent the period between August and November 1939 deploying with the flotilla. In December she was transferred to the Western Approaches Command to carry out patrols and escort convoys through the North Western Approaches, and the North Sea. She was escorting the merchant "Cyprian Prince" on 21 January 1940 when she was spotted by "U-22", under the command of Karl-Heinrich Jenisch and torpedoed at 5:35 a.m. She sank with the loss of all 189 hands. 18 bodies were later recovered and buried in a cemetery at Wick.


The wreck of HMS "Exmouth" was discovered in the Moray Firth in July 2001 by an independent expedition, with their findings being verified by Historic Scotland. The wreck is one of those listed as a 'protected place' under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986. A relatives association for the crew of HMS "Exmouth" was formed in 2001, which holds services in memory of those lost.



External links

* HMS Exmouth relatives association.

* BBC news links relating to the discovery of the wreck

* MS Miranda at

* MS Tekla at

* Information about FV Trident

* Designation under Protection of Military Remains Act 1986

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