In naval terminology, a destroyer is a fast and maneuverable yet long-endurance warship intended to escort larger vessels in a fleet, convoy or battle group and defend them against smaller, powerful, short-range attackers. Destroyers, originally called Torpedo boat destroyers in 1892, evolved in response to the threat posed by torpedo boats to capital ships. Growing from earlier developments, the first official designation of torpedo boat destroyer (TBD) as a recognised class of warship was given to the HMS Havock and HMS Hornet when commissioned by the Royal Navy in 1894. By the time of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, TBDs were large, swift, and powerfully armed torpedo boats designed to destroy other torpedo boats. Although the term destroyer had been used interchangeably with the terms TBD and torpedo boat destroyer by navies since 1892, the term torpedo boat destroyer had been generally shortened to simply destroyer by nearly all navies by the First World War.

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