The First Big Trip

NS11 in flight over the North Sea

In November 1918 while escorting a convoy to the Firth of Forth NS11 was in the air for 61 hours and 21 minutes. With Captain W K Warneford in command this was the first big test for the airship and its crew…

Report on Flight by H.M. Airship N.S.11

17th-19th November 1918

From: Commanding Officer, HMA NS11

To: Commanding Officer, RN Airship Station, Longside

20 November, 1918

I have the honour to submit the following report on the patrol of HMA NS11 on 17th-19th Novr. 1918.


0950 Left ground to proceed on Central and Southern Patrols.

1100 Wind S.W.15 steering S. making good S.E. 15 knots. Sighted destroyer “Plover” steering S.W. A/c to close with her.

1115 She appeared to be steaming faster than the usual patrol speed of destroyers, so made a signal “Are you on special service”. Reply – “On passage from Invergordon to Rosyth”.

1130 Resumed original course.

1145 From N.S.12 – “Am off Peterhead. Request orders”. Reply – “Proceed on Central and Southern Patrols”.

1230 Position 25 LJV, 25 miles S.E. by E. Girdleness.

1245 To base – “Request weather forecast for 12 hours”.

1330 45 gallons of petrol used so far.

1400 From Base – “No material change, except mist and for this evening:. A/c for Montrose.

1410 Second Officer (Capt. MacColl) took over. Course 290 mag.

1450 Visibility decreasing. Fog banks.

1510 From base – “Report position”. To base – “31 SQK”.

1600 To base – “Request whether you have any information re H.Z. or O.Z. Convoy”.

1700 Sighted land right ahead.

1715 Bervie Bay.

1730 From Base – “Is visibility favourable for night patrol”. To Base – “Position 34 EDI. Visibility favourable 5 miles from shore, thick fog to seaward.
To N.S.12. – “What is your position, course and speed. Orders later”.

1745 A/c N.E. reduced speed to 20 knots. 600 revs, each engine.

1815 From N.S.12. – “26 MUI. Speed 30 knots”.
To N.S.12. – “Proceed N.E. Height 500 feet, air speed 25 knots. Report visibility when off Rattray.

1900 Sighted steamer on starboard beam steering N., also fishing boat working, both with navigation lights on.
From N.S.4. – “18 IFO (Rattray), visibility good, wind N.W.
From Base to N.S.11 and N.S.12 – “H.Z. Convoy due Pentland Skerries 1900 to-morrow. Proceed to escort. 1848”.

1915 To N.S.12 – “proceed according to 1848 from Base. Rendezvous. Pentland Skerries 0900 tomorrow”.

1930 Wind N. A/c N.

2045 Off Cruden Bay.

2050 11 hours out. 115 galls. Of petrol used. 635 left. Consumption 10 galls. per hour.

2100 From base to all ships – “Forecast upper wind between N.W. and N.15 to 20 m.p.h. Most and fog. 2030”.

2215 Rattray Head, steering 350, making good 350. Air speed 23 knots, ground speed 10-15 knots.

2230 Reduced speed to take the speed and direction of the wind. Dropped a calcium flare. Wind N.W. 10-13 knots. A/c N.N.W. 25 knots.
From N.S.12 – “07 WEC. What is your position”.
Reply – “07 MUI”.



0035 A/c N. Wind N.N.W.

0110 A/c N. by E.

0215 Third Officer (Lieut. Gibson) took over.

0345 Used 175 galls, of petrol. 575 galls. left.

0430 Copinsay Light 20 miles on starboard bow.

0450 A/c 350 steering for Copinsay.

0537 From Base – “N.S.6 has landed.”

0600 Bearing 351 from St. Fergus.

0815 A/c 260

NS11 wireless cabin

0830 A/c 230 to close with a light cruiser and 2 destroyers.
From light cruiser “Have you any late news”.
Reply “No, can you give me a position of H.Z. Convoy.
”What is your name”. Reply “By my estimate they should pass through Westray Firth 3-0 p.m. to-day. My name is “Dublin”. Escorting destroyers F.80 “Vega” and F.23 “Umpire”.

0900 Increased speed to 30 knots.

0915 Pentland Skerries. Sighted N.S.4.

0920 To N.S.4. – “Have you any information re H.Z. Convoy”.
Reply – “No”.

0930 Closed destroyer H.A.1. made signal “Have you any information re H.Z. Convoy”. Reply – “Have no information”. Proceeded over Flotta. Sighted Shore Signal Station. Made signal “Have you any information re H.Z. Convoy”.

1030 Reply – “First ship passed Copinsay 0935”. A/c for Copinsay. Passed information on to N.S.12 by W/T.

1045 Sighted convoy off Copinsay.

1100 Closed with convoy. Escorting destroyer D.50 “Melpomene”. At this time ship had been flying through rain for about 2 hours. Visibility at most was not more than 5 miles.

1115 Foremost part of convoy stopped, waiting for rear to take up station.

1145 Wind N.W. 23 knots.

1150 From Base – “Report position”.

1200 To Base – “With H.Z. Convoy in company with N.S.12. Position 85. Request weather report.
From Base to all ships – “How many hours patrol have you left”.
To Base – “40 hours petrol left at present rate of consumption”.

1215 Convoy still forming up.

1230 Convoy under weigh, one ship straggling.

1300 Asked “Melpomene” if she could give us some drinking water if we dropped a line. Reply – “Yes, certainly”. Came down to about 20 feet above her masts and picked up two bottles, each holding a gallon. This involved considerable risk to the ship, so I did not think it advisable to pick up the remainder.

1415 From Base – “Surface wind N.W. moderate. Upper wind to 3,000 feet mainly N.W. 18 m.p.h. No Change”.
To N.S.12 by W/T _ “Are you with second H.Z. Convoy”. Reply “Yes”.

1500 40 ships under escort. One ship about 3 miles astern of convoy.

1615 Reduced speed to 700 port 600 starboard.

1700 All navigation lights of the convoy are on.

1715 To Base – “N.S.12 with second H.Z. Convoy. I expect to make Peterhead 2300. Will escort convoy south”.

1930 Sighted Kinnard Light.

1940 Sighted Rattray Light.

2115 Sighted O.Z. Convoy under “Duke of Cornwall”.

2130 H.Z. & O.Z. Convoy passing off Peterhead. O.Z. consists of about 17 ships.

2345 Girdleness bearing W. mag.



0000 Lieut. Gibson took over.

0200 Capt. MacColl took over.

0215 Tod Head bearing N.W. by W.

0300 Dropped Calcium flare. Wind N.W. by W. 10-12.

0410 Visibility good, wind decreasing. Bright moonlight.

0435 Bel Rock Light sighted bearing W. by S.

0515 Asked D.50 for time of arrival of convoy off May Island.
Reply “About 7.0 a.m.”

0535 From Base – “What is your position”. Reply “40 AJK.”

0600 A/c W. by S.

0745 To Base – “Lefft H.Z. Convoy 41 IJS, am proceeding North”.

0845 Wind decreasing. Steering N.N.E. making good N.N.E. By this time all the food was finished and we were eating emergency rations and drinking the water ballast. We had been on half rations all the previous 24 hours.

0915 Came down low over a trawler and picked up some fish in a canvas bucket.

1045 200 galls. of petrol left.

1245 Elevator control seizing. Oiled it.

1345 Lewis Gun practice.

1545 Going up to limit of air in ballonets.

1610 Reached limit – 4,200 feet.

1845 Sighted two vessels on out starboard bow. Flashed the challenge to them, but could not get a satisfactory reply. Asked them who they were and they replied “Rescue tugs “Goringa and Traveller”.

2311 Landed.



“Throughout the flight no mechanical trouble was experienced except for the elevator wheel partially seizing. The dynamos will not charge under an air speed of 30 knots, and, in consequence, lights could not be used in the car for more than a few seconds at a time, and when the ship landed there was not sufficient current to work the engine-room telegraphs. It is considered that this question should be investigated as soon as possible, and either more batteries be carried or dynamos be made to charge at lower speeds.

The crew were living on half rations practically the whole time.”



2nd Officer. Capt. MacColl
3rd Officer. Lieut. Gibson

W/T Capt. Cassidy
” Cpl. Williams

Coxwain C.M. Cunningham
” Sgt. Chandler
” Cpl. Stevens

Engineer C.M. Eltringham
” A.M. Standring

G/L Cpl. Tully
” A.M. Hunt


Crew Bombs Petrol Oil

Ship lifting 12 3. 230lb 750 60
2. 100lb
Ship finished with 12 do. 123 40


Escorted H.Z Convoy No. 67 from Copinsay to Firth of Forth for 21 hours.


I have the honour to remain,


Your obedient servant,


(Sgd) W.K. Warneford

Captain, R.A.F.

Commanding Officer H.M.A. N.S.11.


SOURCE: AIR2/168 – Public Records Office, Kew