HC Deb 26 April 1853 vol 126 cc544-5

said, he wished to ask a question of the right hon. Baronet the First Lord of the Admiralty, of some importance, in reference to the ships employed at Behring's Straits. It would be within the knowledge of his right hon. Friend that a letter had been received by the late Board of Admiralty from Commander Maguire, of the Plover, stating, that that vessel was in a leaky condition, ill equipped and ill provisioned, and very unfit for the service in which she was engaged; that Commander Maguire urged strongly that a screw steamer should be sent out for the purpose of communicating with her; and that he stated, that, as no communication could be held except during about six weeks in the year, it was very possible that none but a screw steamer would be effective for the purpose. Admiral Beaufort had sent a similar recommendation, or rather had assumed it as a matter of course that a steamer would be sent out. All who had been lately concerned in Arctic enterprise were unanimous on the point that a screw steamer was the most effective agent for encountering the ice. He would also beg to remind his right hon. Friend, that, in addition to the Plover, there were the Investigator and Enterprise, neither of which had been heard of for more than two years. He, therefore, would ask, whether there was any record of the reasons which induced the late Board of Admiralty to put in commission, and the present Board to despatch, the Rattlesnake, in preference to a steamer, for the purpose of communicating with the Plover at Point Barrow.


said, that he was aware of the despatch from the commander of the Plover, to which the hon. Gentleman had referred, but he was not aware, nor was there any record at the Admiralty, of the other communication alluded to. When the present Board came into office they found the arrangement to be that a sailing vessel, and not a steam vessel, should be sent on this service, and the order bore the date of the loth or 16th of December; but no reasons were assigned for it. It was the decision of the late Board. It was not intended to send any fresh expedition within the ice on the western side. There were now within those dangerous regions either three or four expeditions. He was prepared to lay on the table any papers on the subject the hon. Member might desire.

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