§ MR. SAMUDA,
in calling attention to the present state of the navy, and comparing this with the navies of other States, said, that on a former occasion he had pointed out that our iron-clad fleet consisted of thirty vessels, of which ten might be regarded as of the first class, being wholly protected, eleven were formidable vessels, but, being only partially armour-plated, could only be put into the second rank, while the remaining nine were small and slow, and might be wholly disregarded in the comparison which he proposed to draw on the present occasion. The whole of those vessels had been ordered prior to July, 1863, and since then only three large 1188 vessels had been ordered. The practical result was, that it had taken seven years to procure twenty-one vessels, which was at the rate of three per annum. The three which had been ordered since 1863 were in the earliest stages of progress, and could not be added as efficient vessels until the end of next year. Thus, during the last three years no more than one vessel per annum would have been added to our fleet. Practically, all our wooden vessels were useless for war purposes. Improved artillery, especially shells, had entirely settled that point at the time of the Crimean war. He had been told by one of the Russian officers who commanded at Sinope that the destruction or burning of the Turkish ships was settled generally by the first broadside. Some of the vessels received a second, but only one remained to receive a third. This was significant of the destructive powers of modern guns upon wooden ships. Another fact revealed to us during the Crimean War was that armour-plating would restore to vessels the defence which had been rendered impossible by improved artillery. No time, therefore, should have been lost in replacing our wooden fleet, which had become useless, by iron-clad vessels. All countries in Europe were making exertions, wholly disproportioned to their previous position as maritime States, to substitute new fleets of iron-clads for the old fleets which had become obsolete. Even Spain had been building iron-clads in England, France, and at home. Italy had no less than sixteen iron-cased frigates in commission. Russia, probably with the view of withdrawing her operations from the knowledge of the world, had abandoned her previous practice of coming to England, and sometimes to France, and had taken to building in her dockyards at home. The amount that she was building there ho was not acquainted with, but it was said to be very large, generally cupola ships of very great size. Turkey, who lad no money to spare, in addition to four iron-clads, most formidable frigates, which she already possessed, and a fifth building of extraordinary size, was building smaller vessels in her own yards. France was so formidable already, and was so industriously adding to her navy, that it excited in him, and, he fancied, in all who desired to see England fill her proper station in the naval world, a great deal of uneasiness. From our insular position, and the extent of our Colonial Empire, that we should desire to remain the foremost naval Power in the 1189 world could not give rise to the slightest jealousy on the part of any other nation. From the latest information he had been able to obtain, France had no less than forty-two iron-clad vessels built and building, and the whole of the latter were intended to be completed by the end of next year. Of these forty-two, twenty-eight were large and fourteen small, and the whole would fight no less than 770 guns protected by armour. Now, the whole of our fleet, whether built or building, represented, large and small, thirty-three, and the guns which we could fight under protection 522, or not two-thirds those of France. And so vigorous had been the action of the French that, while by the last Return which he had obtained at the end of the past year, and to which he had called attention in the spring, the number of their vessels built and building was only twenty-nine, thirteen had been since added, of which ten were most formidable. Three of these were vessels fighting sixteen guns, protected by 8-inch armour, and with a speed of fourteen knots, and seven would fight twelve guns protected by 6-inch armour, and with a speed of twelve knots. In the case of America we had an instance of what could be done by a maritime country making a great effort to right itself. He had no statistics of the American navy, but he found by an article in The Times the other day on the Miantonomoh that the Americans had eighteen Monitors, carrying each four guns, and when their fleet was completed they would have seventy-five of various tonnage; and then The Times added, "Their iron-clad fleet is now larger than the whole of their naval force was in 1861." He begged to call special attention to that remark, viewed by the light of our present experience. Such, then, is a sketch of what the other great nations are doing, and it becomes important as defining in a large degree the exertions we are called upon to put forth to keep pace with them. Had our shortcomings been such as could be set right by increased exertions upon vessels now upon the stocks, or by an extra amount of vigour when the Estimates were brought in next year, he would not have troubled the House with the subject at this late period of the Session, but this matter could not be met in the ordinary way, so much were we behind-hand. The minimum strength of our fleet ought to be at least equal to that of all the fleets of Europe put together. With less than this England ought not to be satisfied 1190 and cannot be safe. Recollect all the Powers in Europe except ourselves are military Powers—the use of a navy to them is of very secondary importance. Not only their defence, but all their means of warfare rests entirely on their armies, and these armies have swelled to such gigantic proportions that at this moment three States—not one of which has been usually accounted as of first-rate importance—have between them brought upwards of a million of soldiers into the field. Combinations and alliances are constantly shifting; we have seen France throwing her whole force into the scale to assist Italy against Austria one year, and the next threatening to turn it against Italy and in favour of Austria; and when such extraordinary combinations are even spoken of—happily he was not obliged to refer to them as having been acted on—how very dangerous it was to leave this country in a state incapable of resisting with promptitude and certainty any aggression that might be made on her through any such combinations or sudden changes of views of European Potentates. But it must be remembered that in any such event it would be utterly hopeless for us to look to our army for the chief portion of our defence. Our army was too small to cope with the hordes that might be brought against us, if only a base of operations could be secured for the invading force; but it is also manifest that an absolute and overwhelming command of the sea would entirely prevent any base of operations being secured and maintained, and that of itself would render every attempt at invasion abortive. But, altogether apart from this view of the question, there exist so many circumstances that require an augmentation of the navy as to render further arguments in support of this unnecessary. It is demanded by the great increase of our commerce, and the extended area of our colonies, and by the necessity of British interests being properly represented in the Mediterranean, the Pacific, the China seas, in India, and in our North-American pos. sessions. If this be so, the question was, what would be the best means of augmenting our navy, of what size should the vessels be, how many and of what character? It was impossible that our present deficiency could be immediately supplied—that was a work of time; but he would submit that twelve vessels might be added of a nature which he would presently describe, if he could only induce the First Lord of the Admiralty to look at the matter 1191 in the same light as he did. He would suggest, therefore, to the right hon. Baronet to bring in a supplementary Estimate to enable him to commence operations, and £400,000 would be sufficient for that purpose. And now he would describe the kind of vessels that should be added. We should add two of 3,500 tons, 1,000-horse power, and carrying two cupolas each, each cupola capable of fighting two vast guns—600pounders, if we could produce them; if not, the largest we could make. They should be protected by an armour-plating of six inches in thickness, and have a speed of fifteen knots an hour. He would also suggest that ten smaller vessels should be put in hand of 1,500 tons and 350-horse power, and that they should be protected by six inches of armour-plating. These smaller vessels should carry two cupolas, each cupola containing one 12-ton gun, and they should have a speed of thirteen knots. The total cost of these vessels would be £1,600,000. A more favourable time for proceeding with them in the Royal Dockyards, and of obtaining any assistance that might be required from the private yards, could hardly be desired. Yet it was impossible to expect that they could be produced in less than two years. If so, the Estimates for their construction would not exceed £800,000 for each financial year, and the supplemental Estimate of £400,000 which he had suggested would not be additional, but would be in .anticipation of the first £800,000. It might be thought that he had proposed too large a proportion of small as distinguished from large ships. Lord Clarence Paget told the House that these large ships were necessary for taking the sea and keeping the sea. There was something in this, but the necessity for having a large number of these ships had been much modified by subsequent experience. In former times when vessels relied solely on the wind for their motive power it was necessary that every ship should possess a large self-contained force. The difficulty of acting in combination was so great that one man-of-war fighting in line of battle was often unable, for want of wind and other causes, to come to the assistance of another. But with steam three of these small vessels could be as easily manipulated and brought to bear upon a single point as three regiments upon a field of battle could be directed against a single fortress. The advantage in a commercial point of view was also increased. The risk was diminished 1192 by increasing the number, and a number of small vessels might possess the same weight of metal as a single large ship, and they might be placed in such positions as to destroy a large vessel more easily than if the same force were concentrated in one large ship. He did not apprehend that the same objections could be taken to cupolas as he had been met with on previous occasions. The only remaining experiment which a large portion of the public and, he believed, the Admiralty also desired to see had been tried. The cupola of the Royal Sovereign had been fired at. The points desired to be hit were struck with the greatest precision, and all fear of damage to the machinery of the cupola was set at rest. The warmest advocates of the cupola could not have expected it to come out of the trial in so satisfactory a manner. [Sir JOHN PAKINGTON: Hear, hear!] His opinion had long been known on the subject, and indeed it really amounts to this—you can protect a vessel with armour if a cupola—you cannot if it be a port-hole ship. He doubted whether even an armour-clad ship however cased could be called a protected ship if it had port-holes. Every port-hole invited a shot, and if the same accuracy could be obtained in battle as in the late experiments with the Royal Sovereign, there would be an end to all the advantages of armour-plating, because an enemy's shell could pass in at the ports at will and so destroy the ship. Of course, they could not expect the same amount of precision to be obtained in war as on that occasion, yet, if a vessel were once in position, a certain proportion of shot or shell—say one in ten—would enter the ports if the gunners fired with their eyes shut, and a larger proportion if they fired with their eyes open. The cupola ship had the further enormous advantage of turning the gun away in a different direction when the men were loading than that in which they were firing. This would give them much greater coolness in action than was attainable in vessels having port-holes, through which the enemy's shot might enter and destroy the men. The cupola had also an advantage in the arc of fire which ranges over 300 out of 360 degrees of horizon, instead of the ninety degrees which could alone be obtained for guns fired from port-holes. Looking to these points of superiority, he could not see the possibility of these port-hole 1193 ships holding their own against the cupolas. If it were to be regretted that our fleet was in so inadequate a condition, there was some compensation, on the other hand, by knowing that we had now an opportunity of considerably improving its character and efficiency. He was of opinion that the navy was immensely too small for the wants of the country, yet he knew the difficulties against which the Government had to contend, and was prepared to make every allowance for them. He had quoted from The Times some particulars about the American Monitor now in this country, but there were certain points about that vessel upon which he felt bound to express an opinion. Formidable she certainly was, but the extremely slow speed she possessed materially detracted from her qualities as a fighting ship. She also laboured under an immense disadvantage in requiring a system of artificial ventilation. Her thickness of armour-plating—of from ten inches to twelve inches—had an imposing sound, but that armour in point of defensive quality was not equal to that of numbers of our ships. Her armour-plating was composed of a number of plates rivetted together, while that of Her Majesty's ships consisted of a solid plate. The experiments on this subject showed that the resistance of these plates was pretty nearly as the square of the thickness of the single plate, so that the 5-inch solid plate was much more than equal to a number of 1-inch plates rivetted together, though making in all double that thickness. Such, then, from the information he had been able to collect, appeared to be the relative strength of our own navy and that of other States. By adding those twelve ships which he had mentioned, they would turn the scale with regard to their nearest neighbour. They would then have forty-five ships and 570 guns; and, although the amount of guns would not be equal, yet from the character of the ships they might rest content that progress would continue to be made on a somewhat similar scale until all their deficiencies were supplied. In conclusion, he begged to say that when he gave notice of his intention to call attention to that subject his own political Friends were in power, and he had expected to make his speech on the Ministerial side of the House. He hoped, therefore, that his right hon. Friend op- 1194 posite (Sir John Pakington) would not believe that he sought in the slightest degree to interfere with any arrangement which he might think right, that he would acquit him of all party motives, and give him credit for having no other object than that of offering any experience which he might have acquired and any assistance which he could afford to the Department over which his right hon. Friend opposite now presided to enable them to carry out their most difficult and arduous task. As far as he had had an opportunity of judging, he felt convinced, from the great interest which his right hon. Friend took in that matter, and in naval science generally, both in and out of that House, the country would find that the great interests committed to his charge would not suffer in his hands; and he had no doubt whatever that they would have a development of the navy on which the nation would feel that it could respose with safety.
§ SIR JOHN PAKINGTON
Sir, I have listened, as I am sure the House also has done, with the greatest possible interest to the speech of my hon. Friend opposite, and I am likewise confident that the House will feel with me that in the course which lie has taken he is in no degree influenced by anything like party spirit. I can quite bear out from personal knowledge his assertion that some time ago, and before there was any prospect of a change of Government, he intended to bring before the House the question which he has introduced to our notice to-night; and, instead of imputing anything like party motives to my hon. Friend, I am extremely glad he has not been deterred by what has occurred in the interval from making the important statement which we have just heard. Having had the pleasure of acting with my hon. Friend opposite for some years in an institution of naval officers of which we are both members, I know how very competent lie is to bring forward a question of this kind. I could have wished that some Member of the late Board of Admiralty had answered him with a view to meet such parts of his speech as referred to their past conduct. It is for me to look more to the future; and, after his remarks, I am sorry that I am bound to say, speaking from the official knowledge within my reach, that, instead of overstating the disadvantageous situation of this country with regard to the navies of other nations, he has rather understated it. In referring to 1195 the navy of Italy my hon. Friend opposite did not mention the number of ships which are building, as well as those in commission—a course which he took with respect to some other nations to which he alluded. The Italian navy, young as it is, at this moment possesses fifteen or sixteen ironclad ships in commission; but to these must be added nine more which are building; so that we must reckon that the Italian Government has of armour-clad ships twenty-four, instead of fifteen. My hon. Friend also understated the strength of France. He said that France has forty-two iron-clad ships; but taking the ships built and building, and also taking the small vessels as well as the large ones, the strength of France in armour-clad vessels is no less than fifty-eight. I believe that some of these vessels, which are called batteries, are competent to act for coast defence; and I am sorry to say that we do not possess the same class of vessels to nearly an equal extent. Again, there is the Russian Government. At this time, if I am correctly informed, that Government has no fewer than thirty armour-clad vessels, a considerable number of which—I do not know the exact proportion—are turret ships. Then the American Government has no fewer than seventy-three ironclad ships. I think my hon. Friend said the number was seventy-five. But the American Government is in the most spirited manner sparing no expense or trouble to strengthen its armour-clad fleet; and only this morning I received an interesting account of a ship now building at New York which I believe it is intended to provide with three distinct means of attack—namely, the broadside, the turret, and the ram bow. Of course, it was yet to be shown how far those attempts would prove successful; but, at all events, it showed how enterprizing the American Government were with respect to strengthening their national defences in this important particular. And even the smaller States of South America are not neglecting this part of their defence. Brazil already has five iron-clad ships, Peru has two, and Chile also two. Well, with this array on the part of European and American Governments, I am sorry to say the position in which England stands is this—she has thirty-three of this class of ships, thirty of which, if I am correctly informed, are afloat, and only three in the course of construction. I have no idea of availing myself of this opportunity to indulge in any 1196 attack upon the late Board of Admiralty—an attack which, from a person in my present position, would be unbecoming, and I believe also unjust. I should only be doing justice to the Duke of Somerset in saying that in regard to many parts of his administration he has left behind him an example which any of his successors will do well to follow. I agree with my hon. Friend opposite in thinking that, although our progress in respect to these armour-clad ships has not been such as we must all desire it should be—and I have taken the opportunity, when sitting on the other side of the House, repeatedly to make the same remark—yet great allowance ought, in justice, to be made for the difficult position in which the late Board of Admiralty were placed owing to the novelty of this question. In addressing the House when Lord Clarence Paget was Secretary to the Admiralty, I have again and again said that I thought it was the duty of the Board of Admiralty to spare no expense in trying all such experiments in regard to this important subject as might afford any fair chance of success. No doubt for a considerable time past we have been obliged as it were to feel our way, almost every ship that has been built within the last few years being experimental. There was, therefore, every excuse for the late Board of Admiralty not progressing more rapidly. The only point upon which I am disposed to express regret in regard to the course taken by my predecessor in this matter—and here I am but reiterating what I have said frequently from the other side of the House—is this—namely, that the late Board of Admiralty were so long in making up their minds with respect to the turret system. I do not wish to cast any censure upon them, and I repeat that I desire to make every allowance for their difficulties; but they did admit four years ago that the turret system was worth trying; and that being so, I have always regretted that the Government were so long in making experiments upon the turret system as applied to sea-going vessels. At length the late Board of Admiralty did decide to allow Captain Cowper Coles, the inventor of that system, to build a ship according to his own designs. Since I entered upon office, I have laid upon the table a supplementary Estimate for a sum of money to be applied to the construction of that ship, and in doing so, I have only done that which I know the late Board of Admiralty, if it had remained in office, 1197 intended to do. That ship will be proceeded with as fast as possible. My hon. Friend opposite expressed a hope that the recess would be utilized. I agree with him in that wish; and I trust that the recess will be utilized in the sense, if not exactly in the manner, which he indicated. My hon. Friend expressed a wish that we should during the recess proceed with the construction of the class of vessels which he recommends. If I understand him rightly, he would have us build a certain number of ships at 3,500 tons, carrying each two turrets, and with a speed of fifteen knots. Now, in replying to so very competent a judge on this subject, I shall not presume to say that such a ship as he has sketched cannot be built, but he will, at the same time, I am sure, agree with me when I state that no armour-clad man-of-war of 3,500 tons, with or without turrets, has as yet attained that speed. It is an extraordinary speed, and it is no doubt desirable that it should, if possible, be secured. I may add from private conversations which I have had with my hon. Friend, that it is, if I am not mistaken, his opinion that a ship of 3,500 tons, with two turrets, could not be built for less than £280,000. When, therefore, my hon. Friend expresses a hope that I should come down to the House before the close of the brief remainder of the Session and propose a supplementary Estimate of £400,000 for the purpose of the construction of such vessels as he describes, I think it is but fair to remind him that it was only on Monday last I entered upon my duties at the Board of Admiralty. I feel confident the House, as well as my hon. Friend, will on reflection be of opinion that I may utilize the coming recess—if not in a manner quite so rapid as he indicates, at all events in a manner which may ultimately turn out to have been more effectual and more prudent than taking at once so serious a step as he suggests. In the meantime, I can only assure the House that I am deeply sensible of the extreme importance of the comparison between the navy of England and that of other countries to which we have listened this evening. I beg to say further that I am fully alive to the importance of the turret system. I think the recent experiments to which my hon. Friend has referred were very judiciously and very properly made. The firing at a short range at the turrets on board the Royal Sovereign, whatever injury might be done to them or the shot itself, has been productive of very 1198 useful results, inasmuch as it has, in my opinion, tended unanswerably to confirm the value of the turret system, and must go far to remove any hesitation which might previously have existed in any one's mind as to the extensive adoption of that system. The ship which Captain Cowper Coles is now being intrusted to build must, no doubt, be looked upon as an experiment to test the sea-going qualities of vessels carrying turrets, but I must state it to be my own conviction that we cannot afford to wait for the trial of that ship. We have, I think, already seen enough from what has taken place in foreign nations, as well as from the experiments made by ourselves, to lead us to the conclusion that the time has arrived when experiments should cease and action commence. We have, it seems to me, gone far enough to show that the turret system must not be neglected, and that if we desire—as the members of all parties must desire—to see the navy of England occupy the position which it ought to hold, it must not be allowed in that respect to remain unequal to that of foreign nations. Such is the spirit in which I undertake the arduous duties which have been imposed upon me, and it is by acting in that spirit that I hope to be able to utilize in the best manner the approaching recess. When, on the re-assembling of Parliament, it falls to my lot to state the result of the deliberations of the Board of Admiralty on the subject, I trust that Parliament and the country will be of opinion that I have not been unmindful of the great interests committed to my charge.
having observed that it was convenient for the proper discussion of the question which had been brought forward by his hon. Friend behind him that his speech should have been at once replied to by some Member of the present Government, who were responsible for the policy now to be pursued in reference to our navy, hoped the House would not think a few remarks with respect to the past administration of the affairs of that service would be out of place. In dealing with that subject he laboured under very great disadvantages, for the noble Lord who had preceded him in the office which he had just vacated had been conversant with the business of the Admiralty for many years, and could speak with the greatest authority upon all the questions relating to it, whereas his own experience at the Admiralty had been extremely brief. He might, nevertheless, take it upon himself to say that 1199 no charge of having neglected their duty in connection with the building of armour-clad vessels could with justice be made against the late Board of Admiralty, for he could confidently assert that they were as studiously and constantly alive as any set of men could be to the necessity of our having a fleet of such vessels creditable to the country, and of gradually superseding our old naval force. The observations of his hon. Friend the Member for Tavistock seemed to him to have been mainly directed to proving that England ought to possess a number of armour - plated ships equal to that of all the nations of Europe combined. That, however, was, he believed, a position which no Administration had ever taken up. It involved the supposition that the entire naval power of Europe might at a given moment be arrayed against us, and that we should be prepared for such an event; and his hon. Friend went oven so far as to contend that we should take into account not only the ships which foreign nations might have built, or which were in course of construction, but also those which had merely been ordered—mere ships on paper—and that we should rush into a great expenditure in order that we might put ourselves on a level with the whole of the rest of Europe, on the ground that we might have to meet all these ships at a particular crisis. That was the main foundation on which the observations of his hon. Friend were based, and from his argument on that head he begged, speaking simply for himself individually, to express his dissent. The hon. Gentleman, having referred to a former speech of his, said be would not, for the reasons which he had then given, take into account sonic of our ships which he had mentioned, and thus reduced the number to be dealt with in a way which he, for one, was entirely unable to explain. The House must, however, when making a comparison between the number of our ships and that of other countries, take care that it was not deceived. A comparison might, for instance, be instituted between the number of ships afloat or ships ordered, or one class of ship might be compared with another; but in the observations which lie was about to make he would confine himself to the sea-going armour-plated fleet of this country, premising that we had not, in his opinion, the slightest right to object to other nations constructing vessels for purposes of defence. Now England possessed, he maintained, a sea-going armour-plated 1200 fleet far superior to that of any other country. He entirely concurred, he might add, in some remarks which had fallen from the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Buckingamshire in that House, and from the Duke of Somerset in another place, to the effect that it was inexpedient to raise questions based on a comparison of the naval force of England with that of other nations with which we are allied in bonds of cordiality and amity; but the great French nation would not, he thought, object to be told that a larger proportion of its armour-plated fleet consisted of ships constructed entirely for defensive purposes, so much so that he believed a considerable number of those vessels which had been compared with ours were unable, from their construction, to bear the increased armament which now, in days when artillery had assumed so gigantic a form, was absolutely necessary to constitute an effective offensive weapon. His hon. Friend, in drawing a comparison between the French iron-clad ships and our own, set down the former at forty-two and the latter at thirty-three. But, setting aside ships on paper, and limiting the comparison to sea-going armour-plated ships, he believed he was stating the facts of the case correctly when he said that we had at the present moment nineteen first-class ships of that description, the French only sixteen; while we had of the second class seven, and the French but one; so that we had altogether twenty-six armour-plated sea-going ships, against seventeen possessed by France. In making that comparison, he had not included the Scorpion and the Wyvern, which were, he admitted, very good sea-going ships for certain purposes. He also omitted two other turret-ships, the Royal Sovereign and the Prince Albert, considering that they were not to be put in comparison with sea-going ships, being more peculiarly adapted for service in the Channel and for defensive purposes. Therefore, he said, in contradiction to the assertion of the hon. Member for Tavistock, that this country had a very considerable superiority in armour-plated sea-going ships. He would not refer to ships for defensive purposes, because with respect to them this country had no right to feel jealous of its neighbours; but if he were to make a comparison on that head, he would be able to show that this country had a considerable superiority over ships of the same class belonging to other countries. Confining, then, the comparison to sea-going vessels, which 1201 were the more important class of vessels for this country, he maintained that the state of the British navy did not approach to anything like the description given by the hon. Member for Tavistock. He entirely concurred in great part of the remarks of the right hon. Gentleman at the head of the Admiralty. With respect to the progress of armour-plated vessels in this country, it was necessary to consider, as the right hon. Gentleman had remarked, that the matter was one of experiment, and in course of time great changes had taken place. The right hon. Gentleman stated the number of iron-plated ships belonging to the French, large and small, building or built, to be fifty-eight; but, in order to make up that number it was necessary to include some old floating batteries built for the Crimean war and not very useful for any purpose now, and also two iron boats, which could be taken to pieces and put together again, and which were prepared for the Italian war, but which, fortunately, were not needed, both classes being vessels that ought by no means to enter into a comparison with the sea-going armour-plated ships of this country. Therefore, it was requisite, in making a comparison between this country and France, to take into consideration the character of the vessels compared with each other, in order to arrive at a correct conclusion as to the actual force of the navies of the two countries. After having shown that in respect to the force of the sea-going armour-plated fleets of the two countries, England was in a very superior position, he would now remark that another important point was the way in which the fleets were armed. To this matter the Duke of Somerset constantly paid a personal attention, and was the first to suggest, while the discussion about the Whitworth and Armstrong guns was going on, that the main thing was to produce a gun which should throw a heavy shot with a large charge of powder. The result of that suggestion was the introduction into the navy of the smooth-bore gun, which filled up a gap that had not been filled up before. Since that time the advance made in the construction of guns had been such that the Admiralty had been able to place on board some of Her Majesty's ships a 12-ton gun, which every one acquainted with the subject knew so well, and which was the gun fired against the turret of the Royal Sovereign. Consequently, the armament of the English fleet by means of the 12-ton gun and the 6-ton gun was 1202 eminently satisfactory, and when the hon. Member for Tavistock compared the number of guns belonging to the English fleet with those of the ships of another country he had compared two weapons, one of which was many times superior to the other, so that in a numerical comparison of this kind it was difficult to arrive at a correct conclusion. As the hon. Member for Tavistock said that the late Board of Admiralty should have proceeded with greater rapidity in ordering and building iron-plated ships, he desired to inquire at what particular period ought they to have done so? No doubt it would be a good thing to have at the present moment a perfect iron-plated fleet, but how was it to have been obtained? When the late Board of Admiralty came into office the whole matter was in an experimental condition. No doubt the French had the start of this country, they having ordered three iron-plated ships in 1858, and three in 1859. The first iron-plated ship belonging to this country, the Warrior, was ordered in 1859, while the right hon. Gentleman opposite, who also provided for another iron-plated ship, the Black Prince, was at the Admiralty. The Board of Admiralty which succeeded ordered in the course of the year two more iron-plated ships, and from that time forward iron-plated ships bad been ordered to such an extent that the slight start possessed by France in the construction of iron-plated ships was rapidly got the better of. Now, if at any particular moment during this experimental period—at the time, for instance, when the right hon. Member for Droitwich was in office—ten or twenty ships of the class of the Warrior had been ordered, would the House be now satisfied? Undoubtedly when the Warrior and Black Prince were ordered they were the best ships of the time, but in the present day they would have a defensive strength utterly inadequate to resist the shot now employed against iron-plated ships, and had any considerable number of them been built, this country would now be in possession of a class of vessels quite unsuited for the requirements of the present day. About last Christmas the hon. Member for Tavistock recommended to the Admiralty that six large cupola ships should be built instead of two large ones, and ten small ones; but if the Admiralty had ordered those vessels to be constructed they would have been inadequate to resist the artillery now produced. These ships were to have 1203 two cupolas, each cupola weighing 120 tons, the weight of the two being 240 tons; but it was found the other day that a turret much heavier than 120 tons was not strong enough to withstand the shot from a 12-ton gun. The turret of the Royal Sovereign weighed 168 tons, and the Board of Admiralty were having another turret made which would weigh 200 tons. There was no greater authority on shipbuilding than the hon. Member for Tavistock; but so recently as last Christmas he recommended the Admiralty to build six ships which, he ventured to think, it would have been a great mistake to order. He would add that the plates, the backing, and the skin of the ships proposed by the hon. Gentleman were weaker than those which had been adopted in the case of the Hercules, which had been found to resist the shots fired from the heaviest guns that had been made up to the present moment. In the target of the Royal Sovereign the iron skin was 5-8ths, the backing 18 inches, and the iron plates 4½ inches; but in the Hercules target the iron skin was 1½ inches, the teak backing was 32 inches, and the plates 8 inches and 9½ inches. He, therefore, asked the House whether it would have been right or wise of the Admiralty to have incurred a larger expenditure for the purpose of building iron-plated ships, which, he believed, if they had been constructed, would have proved very inadequate to the requirements of the present time. That remark applied with still greater force to ships constructed for coast defence; because it was of the greatest importance that you should have the largest-sized gun in these ships; and if, when the Armstrong 100-pounder was the largest of our guns, coast defence ships had been constructed which would only carry a gun of that weight, those ships would have been quite unsuitable for the 12-ton gun, not to say the 22-ton gun, which he believed would shortly be placed on board our ships. As the question of the cupola principle had been alluded to by the right hon. Gentleman the First Lord of the Admiralty, he wished to say that from the first there had been no disposition on the part of the Board to prevent a practical trial of that principle. In fact, it was the Admiralty who introduced it first. Captain Coles had been in communication with the War Department on the subject of a shield, and in 1860 the Admiralty requested the War Department to hand the matter over to them. The first 1204 of the cupola ships, the Prince Albert, was ordered of the hon. Member for Tavistock in March, 1862, which was before the action between the Merrimac and the Monitor. She was a long time in process of construction, owing to an almost complete alteration of the system. What had been a cupola was changed by Captain Coles into a turret, and many other alterations were made during the construction of the ship. Captain Coles was one of the first who foresaw that guns of great size would ultimately be introduced, and at his suggestion turrets of larger dimensions were adopted. There could be no doubt that the Admiralty made a trial at once by ordering one ship of greater size, and constructing another for Channel service and defence purposes. From that time down to the present neither this nor any other country had produced the class of ship which we should desire to see afloat—namely, a sea-going cupola ship, carrying defensive armour of the weight which we believed now-a-days defensive armour ought to be. Captain Coles offered to do one of two things—either, in conjunction with a draughtsman, himself to prepare the lines of an iron-plated turret ship, or to prepare one in company with some eminent ship-builder. He was allowed to act on the first plan; but a committee of naval officers having examined the lines which he laid down, came to the conclusion that his vessel was open to objection on the ground that she was only a one-turret ship. That was the reason why that vessel was not constructed. They recommended the experiment of a two-turret ship; and that recommendation led to the order for the Monarch; she was now under construction, and he believed she would prove to be such a ship as that to which he had just referred as the sort of one it was desirable to see afloat. The late Board of Admiralty thought that, as a difficulty had arisen, Captain Coles should be allowed to adopt his second alternative—namely, to lay down the lines of a turret ship, in conjunction with an eminent shipbuilder. He was happy to learn that Captain Coles, having put himself in communication with the firm with which the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird) had been connected, the lines of such a ship had been produced; and if the late Board of Admiralty had remained in office they would, have brought in a supplemental Estimate in order that her construction might at once be undertaken if she met with their approval. 1205 He did not know that he need say anything more with reference to the remarks of the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda), some of whose later arguments seemed to be in contradiction to those which he had advanced in the earlier portion of his speech. The hon. Gentleman gave at the beginning of his speech a formidable account of the American iron-plated ships, but at the close he reassured the House by giving an account of the American Monitors, which did not show that those vessels would, in his opinion, be effective against us. The hon. Member also alluded in terms of great respect to the iron-plated fleets of the nations of Europe, but they knew, and the hon. Member admitted, that a great many of those ships were not of a description which the Admiralty of this country would be justified in building. The iron-plated navy of England, both collectively as a fleet, and individually with respect to the ships of which it was composed, was vastly superior to that of any other Power in the world—speaking of it as a sea-going armour-plated fleet. From what took place at the late Board of Admiralty during the very short time with which he was connected with it, he was perfectly satisfied there was no subject to which they gave a more constant and diligent attention than to their system of constructing armour-plated ships. They deliberately declined taking the course of other nations in ordering a large number of such ships at once, because they thought the question should be dealt with gradually and experimentally, and as from year to year changes were taking place, those changes should be taken advantage of so as, in the end, to establish some system that would be satisfactory, without embarking in speculations enormously expensive upon vessels which would not be a credit to the country. In conclusion, he would only add, as far as his humble opinion went in that House, he could assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite that any measures he might desire to take in connection with this subject, and which he might think necessary and advantageous, would receive his best consideration, with the fullest disposition to give them his support. Having been but a short time connected with the late Board of Admiralty, he regretted that he could not afford such ample explanations on this important matter as the noble Duke who was at its head would have been able to give had he been a Member of that House 1206 —for it was a question to which, during the whole time of his administration, his Grace devoted the most constant attention.
SIR JOHN HAY
had no wish to detain the House by entering into any lengthened discussion on this interesting subject. He must, however, say that he was extremely obliged to the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda), himself one of the greatest authorities in the country, for having introduced the question, and he had also to thank the hon. Gentleman who had just spoken for the manner in which he had treated the subject. The hon. Gentleman began his statement by saying that the speech of the hon. Member for Tavistock rather seemed to cast some imputation on the late Board of Admiralty. Now, he (Sir John Hay) hardly thought that was the intention, but he could assure him of this—that on that side of the House there was no such feeling; and what fell from his right hon. Friend must have shown him that all the desire for the future was to derive advantage from the experiments the late Board of Admiralty made, and avail themselves of the concurrence, assistance, and support which the hon. Gentleman had promised on their behalf. No doubt there was a great necessity for increasing the force of ships in the service of this country. Although not perhaps going the length of the hon. Member for Tavistock, that we ought to have a fleet in this country quite equal to all Europe, it was quite evident the public service required in all parts of the world that the ships we sent there should be such as would be respected. Apart from the hesitation which had been very naturally and properly entertained to building ships of the new construction, and apart from the very proper economical desire not to spend money in building more wooden ships, there was this fact plain—that we had arrived at this position, that we had not got ships of the old construction, nor had we ships of the new construction; and the time had come when the Board of Admiralty must consider the question how the navy of England was to be brought up to a sufficient number of ships to perform the duties of peace in the various parts of the world. The fact was obvious from what very recently occurred in the Pacific. The United States of North America had an iron-clad ship there; the Spaniards had two or three iron-clads; the Chileans and Peruvians had iron-clad ships in their navy; and yet the navy of England in those seas was represented by wooden ships, admirably com- 1207 manded and manned, no doubt, but no match for any of those iron-clad ships. It could not be at all satisfactory to the country to know that our ships on distant stations were inefficient for the purposes for which they were sent to those stations, and it was necessary to have iron-clad flagships instead of wooden ships for that purpose, without diminishing the force required for the Channel and home service. The Brazilians, also, had several iron-clad ships, and yet the flag-ship and squadron of England in that part were wooden ships. On the North America and West India station we had only one partially iron-clad ship, the Favourite, that could maintain the honour of the English navy in presence of that great nation whose number of iron-clads he need not recapitulate, but which had already been stated to the House as of a most formidable character. It seemed to him, therefore, that the time had come when either we must go to the necessary expense of repairing our old wooden ships to perform inadequately the duties required of them, or make iron-clad ships, which would efficiently do the duty required of them in those distant seas. He agreed with the hon. Member for Tavistock, that it was desirable to build ships of great speed not of too large a size for this service. In that case they must sacrifice something to the weights the ship must carry. They could not have ships plated with armour, and carrying heavy guns, but of that size that they must be costly to build and maintain. The proposal of the hon. Member, however, seemed to meet the necessities of the case. He (Sir John Hay) was quite sure that a ship of thirteen or fourteen knots speed and under 3,000 tons burden could be constructed, to be armed with two turrets, carrying the haviest cannon in the world, and be perfectly able to take care of herself, while performing the duties required of her in a distant station, and although not plated with the heaviest armour, would prove thoroughly efficient to maintain the honour of the English flag. He was very glad to think that now, at last, after seven years of controversy, carried on by experiment and argument, the cupola, which had long been a pet theory of his, had arrived at the position in which it was, he believed, almost recognized as that which was to be the salvation of the navy. Speaking for himself, and not from official authority, he would say that he felt quite confident that, if they had not already solved, they were on the eve of solving the question 1208 of the construction of cupola sea-going ships, and he was certain when the arangements were completed both sides of the House and all degrees and orders of men in the country would approve of the conduct of the Administration which should create a sufficient number of those ships to maintain the honour of the English navy.
§ MR. LAIRD
believed that one cause of the great outlay for the navy, and of its present inefficiency, arose from the determination of the old Board of Admiralty to resist the introduction of the cupola system. His hon. Friend who had just spoken, and others also, had for long advocated the system, but it had been resisted by the Admiralty step by step and year by year. Another matter had been frequently urged by the hon. Member for Bristol (Sir Morton Peto) and also by himself, and that was the imprudent preference of the Admiralty for building wooden ships, though they were quite inefficient against the new war missiles. If the opinions of practical men out of the House, who knew the difference of cost in maintaining wooden and iron-ships, had been acted upon, the system of building wooden ships would have been abandoned long ago. The expenditure in the dockyards arose not so much from the cost of new work as from the cost of the continual repairs which were going on. The late Secretary to the Admiralty had alluded to the Scorpion and Wyvern, and he would take those vessels to illustrate the way in which things were managed in the dockyard. It had been stated by most competent men that if they were altered they would make very good sea-going ships, and would carry the heaviest offensive armament of any ships afloat of their tonnage—namely, each ship four 300-pounders; that they would have a very light draught of water, and would be made very valuable ships. He concurred in this opinion. But what had been the course of procedure at Portsmouth? The alteration of the Scorpion was ordered at the end of last year, upon which she was put into a dry dock and her deck and upper works pulled to pieces. But if the report of The Times were correct, although she might be required for service any day, no further progress had been made. Only a few thousand pounds were required to make her one of the most efficient vessels in the navy. He asked if this was a state of things the country would tolerate. He understood that the Wyvern, a sister ship, without the alterations having been 1209 made, which were necessary to fit her for sea-going service, had been ordered to proceed to the coast of North America; but if, on arriving at her destination, she did not answer the expectations which had been formed of her, it would not be from the want of knowledge of what was required, seeing that in November last every defect in this ship was known and reported on. He agreed with his hon. Friend that the Miantonomoh could not be numbered among the class of sea-going ships, for her speed was not more than six or eight knots an hour. Such vessels would be valuable for the defence of harbours and the coast. Many harbours were now open to attack, and a merchant the other day told him that though there was property of the value of millions at Hong Kong, there was neither a fort constructed nor a man-of-war stationed there. He regretted much that cupola ships had not been earlier adopted, but, nevertheless, did not agree in all that had been said on this point. Of their general qualities there had been ample experience, for such vessels had made voyages across the Atlantic, and Captain Osborn two or three years ago presented a report respecting the Royal Sovereign which should have been sufficient to have induced the Admiralty to proceed in their construction. He had often pressed upon the Government the necessity of having cupola ships at foreign stations. They went at great speed, carried heavy guns, and as two-thirds of the usual crew would be sufficient to man them, a great saving would be effected by their adoption as contrasted with broadside vessels. The House had been informed by the late Government that they were about to build six wooden vessels of the Amazon class; they were to be similar to the Alabama, possessing great speed, and intended for the protection of our commerce. He trusted the new Board would thoroughly investigate the subject of proceeding with the construction of wooden vessels, and then he believed they would see reason for putting a stop to the enormous amount of repairs which were annually going on. Old wooden hulks, after alterations entailing great expenditure, were being put to sea, though they never could be a match for the armour-plated ships of other nations. Instead of continuing this process, he hoped a number of small armour-plated vessels carrying the heaviest guns suitable for foreign stations would be constructed. He did not think 1210 so many of large size and the thickest armour were at present requisite, because ships with eight or nine inch armour-plating were not to be met with in all parts of the world. He anticipated most satisfactory results from the recent change in the Admiralty, and he believed that in a few years the House would wonder why the old system of wooden shipbuilding had not been abandoned earlier.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
said, he was glad to find that that question was regarded by the House as one removed beyond the reach of mere party politics. He could state for himself that although he sat on the Opposition Benches, he rejoiced to see the change which had just been made in the Board of Admiralty, and he was exceedingly glad to see his right hon. Friend (Sir John Pakington) in the position he at present occupied. He was unable to look back to any period during the last six years with any degree of satisfaction at the course the Admiralty had pursued, for never had they kept pace with the improvements in science and the progressive spirit of the age. From the discussions which had taken place in that House, it was evident that the adoption of the cupola had been forced upon the Admiralty, and that the claims of Captain Coles had only been recognized when it was felt that they could no longer be ignored. The question the House was now discussing was one of the utmost importance. The present humiliation of Austria was owing to her not having kept pace with science. Whether regard was had to the army or the navy, the public would never have confidence in any Administration that was not prepared to take advantage of every scientific discovery, from whatever quarter it might come, and that did not place the honour and well-being of England above every other consideration. He trusted his right hon. Friend opposite would not be governed by a single mind, however experienced it might be. In these days, when science had such an immense range, and practical skill had such enormous results, no Board of Admiralty was safe which did not accept information, no matter whence it came, whether from official sources or not. During his recent visit to the United States, he inspected the dockyard and other arrangements of that country, and had examined the whole system of naval administration, and it was scarcely possible to conceive anything more humiliating to an Englishman than the superiority of that 1211 system to the one adopted in our own country. Their navy, however, was not in a position to compete with us, for their seventy vessels were chiefly constructed for operations on the coast during the late civil war, and, though the Miantonomoh was visiting our shores, they were not thoroughly sea-going vessels. The American position was nevertheless a very powerful one, and we had no ship in the Pacific which could contend with the Monadnock. Moreover, the noble Lord who for the last few years had been at the head of the Admiralty (Lord Clarence Paget) was now on board a vessel in the Mediterranean which, though well adapted for hospitality, but with which he would at once go into harbour, and the crew of which he would disband, if we were engaged in a war with any great naval Power. Surely, however, ships should be constructed for fighting, and it was high time that these questions were grasped by the Admiralty, connected as they were with the honour and well-being of the country. He (Sir Morton Peto) did not indeed agree with the hon. Member for Tavistock that we ought to have a fleet equal to the united vessels of all the other Powers in Europe; but he thought that we ought to have a fleet able to meet the forces of any two Powers that might combine against us, and it should be adequately represented in every part of the world, so as to protect our commerce. This was not our present position, but he trusted that the right hon. Baronet (Sir John Pakington) would so utilize the recess, and would so frame the next year's Estimates, as to show that the honour of the country was safe in his hands. They were told that a certain number of vessels were to be built of the Alabama class; but one of those ships—the Amazon—had been destroyed within the last few days, in consequence of her coming in contact with a mercantile vessel, and she could not, in point of fact, be regarded as at all a war ship. He hoped the advice of the hon. Gentleman opposite (Mr. Laird) on this point would be adopted, for it was much cheaper in the long run to put aside vessels which would never be efficient than to spend more money in completing what ought never to have been commenced. There was another point to which he wished to call the attention of his right hon. Friend, and that was the state of our dockyards. He regarded the management of our dockyards as a disgrace to the country. He 1212 believed that there was nothing more profligate in the shape of expenditure in any nation in Europe. We got hardly any return for our money, because we were continually altering and repairing, and the consideration which appeared to influence the authorities was not how much ought to be expended, but how many men could be employed. He felt convinced that if an examination were instituted into the results obtained by the £50,000,000 or £60,000,000 spent by the late Board of Admiralty during the last six years, it would be found that we had got very little value for our money. We had no force in the Mediterranean or on other foreign stations adequate to the maintenance of our national position. A grave responsibility rested on the new Board, and he would promise the right hon. Baronet that those on that side of the House who dealt with practical questions would render him their cordial support, irrespective of party considerations, if they found him studying improvement and efficiency, and desirous of placing the navy in a satisfactory condition.
LORD JOHN HAY
said, he thought that Englishmen who compared their own navy with that of the United States need feel no humiliation or alarm. The whole of the United States navy, with a very few exceptions, had been built within the last few years, and had been built by one half of the country for the purpose of subduing the other half, and without any reference to the exigencies of foreign service. These States had at present only about five in-clad sea-going vessels. Out of the many iron-clads vessels belonging to the United States, he would take as a specimen the Roanoake. That vessel rolls so much in a slight swell that great apprehensions had been felt for her safety. There were five or six vessels of the same character as the Miantonomoh. Now that was a class of vessels which could not give us much apprehensions. The Miantonomoh might be found very useful if she arrived safely at her destination, but as a sea-going ship those who knew her best considered it dangerous to trust her across the Atlantic without being attended, as she was, by two vessels of another class. The greater proportion of their seventy-five vessels were well adapted for cruizing along the coast, and going up rivers or creeks, but were not always successful in keeping afloat when engaged, according to report. Well, if that were the case, he 1213 did not think that we had any right to feel humiliated at the prospect of being outnumbered by the American Government so far as iron-clad vessels were concerned. What had happened to the Amazon showed the advantage of waiting, and not completing ships hurriedly, and there was now an opportunity of securing greater speed and efficiency. The vessels of this class were not intended to compete with the large American ships of 3,000 tons—other vessels having been devised by the Admiralty for this purpose, and the construction of one having been already ordered. As to the criticisms of the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird) on the speed of the Amazon, it should be remembered that it was greater than that of the Alabama, which was, nevertheless, thought a very fast vessel, and which rendered such great service to the Confederate States. Reference had been made to Captain Coles, whom he admired very much, but he wished to express his opinion that he had been by no means a persecuted man. He was not one of those who disliked turret vessels, but, at the same time, he did not think they would ever occupy a very large space in the navy, not even if the present First Lord of the Admiralty continued in his office for a long time. He believed turret vessels would be found useful for coast defence, but he did not agree with his hon. and gallant Friend opposite that it was an easy matter to make a sea-going turret-ship. Until they could make turret-ships capable of going comparatively long voyages it would be inexpedient, in his opinion, to continue building them largely. He did not think that Captain Coles had been treated in a manner otherwise than was due to him. That gentleman had been somewhat at fault in his correspondence with the Admiralty; probably he was irritated that everyone did not at once appreciate the qualities of his invention; but, whatever the cause, he said and did many things which would have been better left undone. On the whole, he was of opinion after a careful perusal of the whole of the correspondence that Captain Coles had very little to complain of. He (Lord John Hay) confessed he could not join with the hon. Member who made the Motion under consideration, in the alarm and terror which evidently inspired him when he remarked that other nations were building fleets as well as ourselves. He felt with his hon. Friend who had spoken in behalf of the late Government, that it was scarcely possible 1214 England would find herself pitted against the whole world, and that the late Government could not be blamed for having failed to provide for a contingency which no one had anticipated. The last speaker seemed to imagine that the dockyards were very expensively worked. Similar statements had often been made before; but in no case had the allegations been substantiated by facts. As he had been so short a time in office with the late Government, he could not take credit to himself for anything that had been done in the Department; but he could bear testimony to the care with which the accounts of the dockyards had been managed by the arrangements set on foot by the late Board. Although no doubt improvements could still be made in the management, it was now more perfect than it had ever been before, and he was of opinion that the present Board of Admiralty was quite as able as any other to make what further improvement was necessary in the administration of the Department.
§ SIR MORTON PETO
explained that when he said England's position was humiliating, he referred to the management of her dockyards, and not to her navy, as compared with the navy of other nations.
§ MR. GRAVES
said, he considered that this was a question of the deepest interest. But there was one point of great importance, especially in connection with seagoing vessels, which had not been touched upon, and that was the construction of vessels and machinery with a view to the economy of fuel. Allusion had been made to American vessels, and especially to the Miantonomoh, which it was important to notice had steamed the whole way from New York to Ireland, notwithstanding her small size, maintaining throughout an average of eight knots. He very much doubted whether we had any vessels in our service, either large or small, capable of steaming from England to New York. As one having had some experience in connection with steam vessels of the most improved type, he highly commended the new class of machinery coming into extensive use in the merchant service, as tending to economize fuel to a most important extent. He feared sufficient attention had not been given to this point in the designing of our fleet, as very few of our ships could keep under full steaming power beyond some six or seven days. The most recently constructed, the Bellerophon, could not carry fuel for more than four or 1215 five days, so great was her consumption. Some experiments had been made by the Admiralty and exhibited with remarkable clearness the economizing qualities of the different kinds of machinery. Engines of the improved type to which he was alluding were ordered by the Admiralty in 1860. They were placed in the Constance in 1863. In 1865 they were tested and experiments made to try the steaming powers of three vessels constructed very much on the same principles—namely, the Constance, the Octavia, and the Liverpool. The conditions laid down were that those vessels were to run 100 miles at ten knots an hour, then to run at eight knots; and lastly to run at the rate of six knots an hour. The three started together, and whilst running the distance at ten knots an hour the consumption of fuel used by them was as follows:— The Constance fourteen tons, the Octavia 18 tons, and the Liverpool 32 tons. In the race at 8 knots the consumption was for the Constance 9 tons, the Octavia 14 tons, and the Liverpool 23 tons. In the race of six knots an hour the consumption of coal was—the Constance 4 tons, the Octavia 4 tons, and the Liverpool 12 tons. This was the relative consumption of coal by those vessels during the ten hours' steaming, and he obtained the results of these trials from the columns of The Times. A further trial was deemed indispensable, and a paper which had been presented to Parliament, in accordance with his Motion, gave the results of the trial of the Constance with the Octavia and Arethusa, three vessels as nearly identical in build, displacement, and speed as it was possible to get them, but each having different kinds of engines. The Constance had the same as was tried in her before; the others had engines such as were more commonly used in the Government vessels, and all had, as nearly as possible, the same quantity of fuel put on board. The three vessels started on the afternoon of the 30th September, at six p.m., for Madeira. The result was—the Constance arrived at Madeira, having steamed the whole way, on the 7th October at three o'clock p.m., the Octavia on the 9th October, at forty-five minutes past six o'clock, having on the 6th October stopped her engines with only fifteen tons of fuel; and the Arethusa arrived at Madeira on the 10th October, having stopped her engines on the 6th October, with only thirty-one tons of fuel remaining. Now, he should have thought 1216 that those trials would have been followed up by further experiments if any doubt existed as to the superiority of the principle on which the Constance's engines were designed. In place of that those vessels were dispersed to various parts of the globe, nothing further was done in the way of experiment, and up to this hour not another engine like the Constance's was ordered. He mentioned those facts with the view of inducing the Board of Admiralty to investigate this question of fuel economy on board our steamers as thoroughly as possible. He spoke from no small experience being connected with a company having sixteen sets of these engines running on the West Coast of South America, where fuel was a matter of importance, and he did not hesitate to tell the House that their adoption had made that company a highly prosperous one. He would take one of their vessels of 2,000 tons called the Limena, of 400 nominal horsepower, and 1,600 tons. That vessel went from Liverpool to Valparaiso, a distance of over 8,900 miles, in 31 days and 4 hours, with 973 tons of coal on board, and steamed the entire distance at the rate of 9¼ miles per ton of coal, its average speed throughout the passage being 12 knots per hour. He would take another vessel, the Payta, of 1,822 tons, which steamed from Panama to Valparaiso, a distance of 6,000 miles, on 430 tons of coal, running 13¾ miles for every ton of coal on board, its average speed throughout the passage being 10 knots per hour. To show the House even more plainly the difference between the old and the new types of engines, he would merely instance one vessel that originally had engines of the old type, but that was now provided with engines of the new type, in fact, it was found to be economy to discard any engine of the type usually in use and replace them with the double cylinders. Formerly, with her old engines, the vessel used to consume 1,226 tons of coal, where now she made the same voyage upon 663 tons, and in shorter time. It would be apparent that that, putting expense altogether out of the question, was an additional guarantee for and element of strength in the power of those vessels. The matter was one, of deep interest, and he thought it was a fair subject for the consideration of the Board of Admiralty. He thought it was the duty of those who were charged with the construction of our fleet to have taken more pains to satisfy themselves as to the merits 1217 of these engines, and whether they did not combine all the requirements of the service with an economy of fuel which would give an advantage to our ships, scarcely secondary to the best guns or armour-plating. The subject, he believed, had not yet had the consideration which it ought to have had, and he hoped the Admiralty would not object to take a lesson from the mercantile marine, and from the results achieved by the Constance since when great improvements had been made in the carrying out the principle of the double cylinder engines.
§ MR. ALDERMAN LUSK
asked the Government to remember economy when dealing with this subject. From all that had been said it might be imagined that we had not a ship fit for service, and if that were the case he would ask what we had done with the £12,000,000 per annum which had been expended on our navy during the past fifty years? It was absurd to go on building numbers of large and expensive vessels which might become obsolete almost before they were finished. He hoped we should never have another war, and never need our navy, except for the purpose of protecting our commerce in such waters as the China seas, where it was threatened with pirates. He hoped the Admiralty would be economical, and do their duty well, and he was sure that if they did not it would not be for the want of plenty of good and cheap advice.