The First HMS SCEPTRE
The first HMS SCEPTRE was a Third Rate Frigate launched on 8 Jun 1781 at Rotherhithe. As part of Vice Admiral Sir Edward Hughes' squadron, SCEPTRE saw much action as part of the East India squadron. In 1782, she participated in the fourth battle of a bloody campaign between Vice Admiral Hughes and the French Admiral Suffren's squadron.
Further action in 1794 as apart of a force under the command of Commodore John Ford resulted in the capture of Port au Prince, Haiti. Action in 1795 saw SCEPTRE gain her second Battle Honour in Vice Admiral Sir Keith Elphinstone's squadron, which captured a Dutch squadron in Saldanha Bay.
The first SCEPTRE was lost with all 291 hands during a hurricane in Table Bay, Cape of Good Hope, when a series of anchor cables parted in the rising winds.
The Second HMS SCEPTRE
The second HMS SCEPTRE, of the Repulse Class, was launched on 11 December 1802 at Deptford. She participated in the capture and destruction of the French SEINE and LOIRE in Barque cove, Guadeloupe. In 1808 SCEPTRE, in company with Cornwallis, engaged and destroyed the French frigate SEMILLANTE, together with the shore batteries that she sought to protect. She served for 6 years in the East Indies before transferring to the Caribbean.
Her final years were spent in the Channel blockade of the French before she was finally broken up in 1821. It was to be nearly 100 years before a new SCEPTRE saw service.
The Third HMS SCEPTRE
The third HMS SCEPTRE was launched on 13 April 1917 in Glasgow. During sea trials she averaged nearly 36 knots in a Force 6. In total 51 ships were in this class and saw service from 1916 to 1917, suffering comparatively light losses. SCEPTRE saw action as part of Admiral Beattie's force, primarily employed in convoy escort and patrol duty in the North Sea and Atlantic. On 17 July 1917, SCEPTRE shot down a Zeppelin and later that year she sank an armed German trawler. She survived the war and was sold for disposal in 1926.
The Fourth HMS SCEPTRE
The fourth HMS SCEPTRE was a 1940 programme S-Class patrol submarine launched on 9 Jan 1943 in Greenock, although she was laid down in July 1940. SCEPTRE joined the 3rd Submarine Flotilla in April 1943 and was based at Holy Loch. She then detached to Scapa Flow to be used for the Submarine Commanding Officer's Qualifying Course, the Perisher. Whilst exercising to the west of the Orkneys, she was depth charged in error by the RAF and her hull was slightly buckled which required docking for repairs.
After an uneventful first patrol, she was fitted with special towing gear and proceeded to Loch Cairnbawn. Here she joined up with 2 T-Class and 3 S-Class submarines, together with the depot ships TITANIA and BONADVENTURE, the last named being the depot ship for the X-craft midget submarines. SCEPTRE left Loch Cairnbawn on 12 September 1943 with X-10 in tow. The aim was to attack the battleship TIRPITZ at Kaa Fjord. These attacks were necessary to remove the threat imposed by the German Battleships to convoys on their way to Russia. Six X-craft were used to attack shipping in the fjords, with the attack on the TIRPITZ putting her out of action for nearly a year.
In April 1944, SCEPTRE left for another "special operation" with the X-24 in tow. X-24 penetrated Bergen Harbour and sank the merchant ship BARENFELS as well as damaging large sections of the floating dock in the harbour. SCEPTRE earned the title of "Bring them back alive" as she was the only towing submarine which lost none of the X-craft in her care.
Commanded by Lieutenant I S McIntosh MBE DSC throughout her short but active service career, SCEPTRE sank 6 ships - 4 merchant vessels of 14,393 gross register tons and 2 escorts of 1,444 displacement tons. This total and tonnage was unequalled by any other submarine in home waters during the period.
At the end of the war, SCEPTRE was allocated to the Seventh Submarine Flotilla and used for training, based at Lochalsh. She continued to run as a training unit based Portland until February 1947. She was finally sold to the British Iron and Steel Corporation for scrap in August 1949.