fighting ships of the world



PATHFINDER scout cruisers (1905)

Patrol 1906

Name No Yard No Builder Laid down Launched Comp Fate
Pathfinder (ex-Fastnet)   655 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 15/8/1903 16/7/1904 18/7/1905 sunk 5/9/1914
Patrol N24, N80 658 Cammell Laird, Birkenhead 31/10/1903 13/10/1904 26/9/1905 sold 4/1920


Displacement normal, t


Displacement full, t


Length, m

112.8 pp 115.5 oa

Breadth, m


Draught, m


No of shafts



2 4-cyl VTE, 12 Laird-Normand boilers

Power, h. p.


Max speed, kts


Fuel, t

coal 600

Endurance, nm(kts)


Armour, mm belt: 51, deck: 38 - 16, CT: 76


10 x 1 - 76/50 12pdr 18cwt QF Mk I, 8 x 1 - 47/40 3pdr Hotchkiss Mk I, 2 x 1 - 450 TT



Ship project history: Eight cruisers were intended to work in company with destroyers as scouts, to lead torpedo attacks and to back up their flotillas when attacked by enemy destroyers. The Admiralty provided a broad specification for the ships and left the detailed design to the builders, a common practice when ordering torpedo craft but unusual with cruisers. The Admiralty requirement was for a 25kt ship, with a 38mm protective deck or equivalent side armour, shallow draught for operating in inshore waters, and an armament of 10 76mm, 8 47mm and 2 TT. They were ordered in four pairs which, as might be expected, resulted in four sub-classes that varied substantially in form, machinery and structure. Only one builder, Fairfield, followed traditional small cruiser style in providing a poop as well as a forecastle, but all abandoned the bulwarks amidships which had become a common feature of Victorian cruisers. The Armstrong pair differed from all the others in having four instead of three funnels and a clipper bow, while the Vickers ships had shorter funnels than the other ships. The Fairfield pair employed side armour abreast the machinery compartments with a protective deck at the ends, while Cammell provided side armour abreast the engine rooms only with a protective deck over the remainder of the ship, an expedient intended to protect the engine cylinders. The remaining ships were fitted in the usual manner with a full length protective deck. The 12pdr QF guns were mounted 3 abreast on the forecastle and aft and two on each side amidships, but this armament was heavily criticised for being too light.

Ship protection: 51mm belt protected only machinery, main deck with 16mm flat was connected with its lower edge by 38mm slopes.

Modernizations: 1905-1906, both: - 8 x 1 - 47/40; + 2 x 1 - 76/50 12pdr 18cwt QF Mk I, 6 x 1 - 57/40 6pdr Hotchkiss Mk I

1912, both: - 12 x 1 - 76/50, 6 x 1 - 57/40; + 9 x 1 - 102/40 QF Mk IV

by 1918, Patrol: + 1 x 1 - 76/45 20cwt QF Mk I

Naval service: Pathfinder was torpedoed and sunk 5/9/1914 by German submarine U21 off St. Abbs Head, 259 lives lost.

Many thanks to Wolfgang Stöhr for additional information on this page.

Ivan Gogin, 2008-09