HMS Amphion (1911)
HMS Amphion was an Active-class
Active class cruiser
The Active class was a class of three scout cruisers of the Royal Navy, built prior to the First World War, and later seeing service in that conflict...

 scout cruiser
Scout cruiser
A scout cruiser was a type of warship of the early 20th Century, which were smaller, faster, more lightly armed and armoured than protected cruisers or light cruisers, but larger than contemporary destroyers...

 of the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

. She was built at Pembroke Dockyard and launched on 4 December 1911. She became the first ship of the Royal Navy to be sunk in the First World War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. The wrecksite is designated under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986
Protection of Military Remains Act 1986
The Protection of Military Remains Act 1986 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom which provides protection for the wreckage of military aircraft and designated military vessels. The Act provides for two types of protection: protected places and controlled sites. Military aircraft are...



On commissioning, Amphion was assigned as leader
Flotilla leader
A flotilla leader was a warship suitable for commanding a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships, typically a small cruiser or a large destroyer...

 of the 3rd Destroyer Flotilla with the Harwich Force
Harwich Force
The Harwich Force was a squadron of the Royal Navy, formed during the First World War, that went on to play a significant role in the war.-History:...

, defending the eastern approaches to the English Channel
English Channel
The English Channel , often referred to simply as the Channel, is an arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates southern England from northern France, and joins the North Sea to the Atlantic. It is about long and varies in width from at its widest to in the Strait of Dover...

. During her early years she was commanded by Frederic Charles Dreyer
Frederic Charles Dreyer
Admiral Sir Frederic Charles Dreyer, GBE, KCB was an officer of the Royal Navy who developed a fire control system for British warships...

, but by the outbreak of the First World War she was under the command of Captain
Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The NATO rank code is OF-5, equivalent to an army full colonel....

 Cecil H Fox.


In the afternoon of 5 August 1914, Amphion and the 3rd Flotilla were carrying out a pre-arranged plan of search when they were informed by a trawler that she had seen a suspicious ship 'throwing things overboard'. The trawler gave an indicated position, and Amphion led the flotilla to investigate. Shortly afterwards, the 2150 LT (2,184.5 t) minelayer
Minelaying is the act of deploying explosive mines. Historically this has been carried out by ships, submarines and aircraft. Additionally, since World War I the term minelayer refers specifically to a naval ship used for deploying naval mines...

 SMS Königin Luise was sighted steering east. Königin Luise was a former Hamburg
-History:The first historic name for the city was, according to Claudius Ptolemy's reports, Treva.But the city takes its modern name, Hamburg, from the first permanent building on the site, a castle whose construction was ordered by the Emperor Charlemagne in AD 808...

-Holland holiday ferry
A ferry is a form of transportation, usually a boat, but sometimes a ship, used to carry primarily passengers, and sometimes vehicles and cargo as well, across a body of water. Most ferries operate on regular, frequent, return services...

 that had been converted to an auxiliary minelayer by the Germans. On the night of 4 August, she had departed Emden
Emden is a city and seaport in the northwest of Germany, on the river Ems. It is the main city of the region of East Frisia; in 2006, the city had a total population of 51,692.-History:...

 and headed into the North Sea
North Sea
In the southwest, beyond the Straits of Dover, the North Sea becomes the English Channel connecting to the Atlantic Ocean. In the east, it connects to the Baltic Sea via the Skagerrak and Kattegat, narrow straits that separate Denmark from Norway and Sweden respectively...

 to lay mines off the Thames Estuary
Thames Estuary
The Thames Mouth is the estuary in which the River Thames meets the waters of the North Sea.It is not easy to define the limits of the estuary, although physically the head of Sea Reach, near Canvey Island on the Essex shore is probably the western boundary...

. Königin Luise was disguised in the black, buff
Buff may refer to:* Buff , a pale yellow-brown colour* Buff , a multifunctional article of clothing produced by Original Buff, a Catalan company* Buff * A form of Status effect, a temporary beneficial effect in some video games...

, and yellow colours of the steamers of the Great Eastern Railway
Great Eastern Railway
The Great Eastern Railway was a pre-grouping British railway company, whose main line linked London Liverpool Street to Norwich and which had other lines through East Anglia...

, that plied from Harwich
Harwich is a town in Essex, England and one of the Haven ports, located on the coast with the North Sea to the east. It is in the Tendring district. Nearby places include Felixstowe to the northeast, Ipswich to the northwest, Colchester to the southwest and Clacton-on-Sea to the south...

 to the Hook of Holland. Her attempt to flee from the approaching fleet aroused suspicions and four destroyers gave chase, including and . In about an hour's time, Königin Luise was chased down and sunk, with 46 survivors from the crew of 100.

Amphion picked up a number of the survivors and continued on her prearranged search. The destroyers now sighted another ship of the same shape and colour as the Königin Luise, flying a large German flag. The destroyers began to attack this ship, whilst Amphion recognised her as the St. Petersburg which was carrying the German Ambassador
An ambassador is the highest ranking diplomat who represents a nation and is usually accredited to a foreign sovereign or government, or to an international organization....

 back to Germany from England. Amphion signalled the destroyers to cease fire but either unaware of the signal or caught up in the heat of the moment, they continued to fire upon the ship. Amphion then maneuvered between the destroyers and the St. Petersburg to deliberately foul the range, and the St. Petersburg proceeded to safety.

Amphion continued with the search without further incident until 03:30 of 6 August, when she began the return course to Harwich. Unfortunately the allocated course ran very close to where Königin Luise had laid her mines. At 06:30, Amphion struck a mine that had been previously laid by Königin Luise. A sheet of flame enveloped the bridge which incapacitated her captain. Except for one man, all the forecastle
Forecastle refers to the upper deck of a sailing ship forward of the foremast, or the forward part of a ship with the sailors' living quarters...

gun crews were killed and many of the bridge occupants were badly burnt. As the hands were at breakfast, many were killed or suffocated in the forward messdecks. As soon as he recovered consciousness, the captain ran to the engine room to stop the engines, which were still going at revolutions for 20 kn (24.4 mph; 39.2 km/h). As all the forepart was on fire, it proved impossible to reach the bridge or to flood the fore magazine. The ship's back appeared to be broken and she was already settling by the bows.

The escorting destroyers closed in and took off Amphions crew and the few rescued German survivors. Though her engines were stopped, her momentum carried her back into the minefield and at 07:03, just three minutes after the last boatload of survivors were taken off, she again struck the same row of mines. The fore magazine exploded, with debris striking the rescue boats and destroyers. One of Amphions shells burst on the deck of , killing two of Amphions men and a German prisoner rescued from the cruiser. Amphion then rapidly sank within 15 minutes of the explosion. Around 150 British sailors were killed in the sinking, as well as 18 of the crew rescued from Königin Luise.
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