HMS A5 was laid down at Vickers Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in 1903, launched on 3 March 1904 and completed on 11 February 1905. Immediately after commissioning she and her tender HMS HAZARD travelled to Queenstown, (now Cobh) Ireland. On 16 February 1905, whilst berthed alongside HMS HAZARD, an explosion occurred on board, with a second explosion about 30 minutes later. Five of the crew were killed by the explosion. The captain, Lieutenant H J G Good, and the other four crew members survived.
An enquiry into the accident concluded that petrol fumes had been ignited by an electrical spark, with the second explosion caused by smouldering debris from the first event.
She was returned to Barrow-in-Furness the following month for repairs and returned to service in the Home Fleet in October. She was used for training until paid off for disposal in December 1915 and was finally broken up in Portsmouth in 1920.