HMS Erne was laid down at Palmer’s Shipbuilding and Iron Co Ltd, Newcastle (Yard No 767) Shipyard on 3rd July 1902 and launched only 6 months later on 14th January 1903. She measured 225.0′ x 23.5′ x 12.0′ and displaced 550 tons. She was powered by 2 x vertical triple expansion steam engines, 4 x Yarrow Reed boilers, dual shaft delivering 7000 shaft horse power giving her a top speed of 26 knots. She was armed with 4 x quick firing 12-pounder guns, 5 x quick firing 6-pounder guns and 2 x 18 inch torpedo tubes. Her original armament was to be the same as the Turtleback type destroyers but this was upgraded to a more modern standard in 1906.
Her official compliment was 70 men and officers. Initially assigned to the East Coast Destroyer Flotilla she was moved through 3rd and 5th Destroyer Flotillas before being assigned to 9th Destroyer Flotilla based at Chatham at the start of World War One. The 9th Flotilla was a Patrol Flotilla tasked with anti-submarine and counter mining patrols on Firth of Forth area. Almost immediately she was re-deployed to Scapa Flow on similar duties under the command of the Commander-in-Chief Home Fleet.
While on regular patrol duty on 6th February 1915 and under the command of Lieutenant-Commander John Landon RN, she was caught in a severe easterly gale and driven ashore half a mile south of Rattray Head lighthouse. Thankfully no lives were lost as all the crew managed to make it ashore safely.
Initially it was hoped that some attempt could be made to re-float her but she lay on soft shifting sand and the wreckage was soon sinking into the ground making refloating her impossible.
After multiple inspections and the removal of some of her fixtures and fittings, the Navy abandoned her as a wreck in November 1915. By this point she had broken her back and sunk almost to her gunwhales in the sand. She was sold in January 1916 to Forth Shipbreaking for £405 and later broken up where she lay.
Some remains of what is thought to be HMS Erne survive at the site today exposed at low water.