HC Deb 17 June 1852 vol 122 cc866-7

said, he would beg the hon. Secretary of the Admiralty to state if the attention of the Board of Admiralty had been drawn to a letter in the public papers from an Admiral in Her Majesty's service respecting the loss of the Birkenhead steamer, complaining of the manner in which the duties were performed at Greenhithe by that scientific officer, Captain Johnson, R.N., for the adjustment of the compasses of Her Majesty's ships before they proceeded on sea service; and whether any report from the late commander of the Birkenhead on the compasses of that vessel had been received by the Admiralty; and, if so, whether the same would be laid before Parliament?


said, the attention of the Admiralty had been drawn to the letter in question, and indeed any communication received, or any statement made by an officer in the position of the writer of that letter, would certainly command the attention of the Board. After the consideration of that letter, however, and the inquiries which the Board had felt it their duty to institute, they did not feel in any degree disposed to withdraw the great confidence which they had in the gallant officer, who had been so truly described by the hon. and gallant Member as that "scientific officer," Captain Johnson. The Admiralty had statements, both from Captain Salmond, after his experimental cruise, and from Commander Wylie, after the de- struction of the Birkenhead, stating that Captain Salmond was perfectly satisfied with the compasses of the Birkenhead. In anticipation of this question, and in consideration of the great public interest which attached to the subject, he had appended to the minutes of the report of the evidence taken before the court-martial upon the survivors of the Birkenhead the correspondence which had taken place upon the subject of the compasses; and when the report was printed, as he hoped it would soon be, he should have great pleasure in laying upon the table of the House all the correspondence relating to this important subject.