The Aheam Class of destroyers began life as an 1894 design study for a long range flying patrol craft. However, the Navy of the time was losing interest in small lightly armored flying craft. The design study was shelved and would have been forgotten, if not for the reappearance of the Hive.
By 1897, it was clear that the picture had changed. Swarms of Lancers can easily avoid serious damage from a 12-inch armor piercing shell, but are prone to machine gun fire. With its focus on heavy units, the Navy faced the frightening prospect of losing its cruisers and battleships to mobs of flying bugs – or worse – accepting Army escorts. The Aheam Design Study was revived.