HC Deb 15 March 1866 vol 182 cc325-54

SUPPLY considered in Committee—NAVY ESTIMATES.

(In the Committee.)

(1.) £1,003,501, Naval Stores.


said, that the amount asked for by the Government for the purposes of the navy this year was a very large one, and that it was the duty of the Committee to inquire whether any, and, if so, what improvements had been made in the construction of our iron-clad ships. The building of that class of vessels was commenced five or six years ago by the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Droit wich (Sir John Pakington), and they were originally intended to have a certain rate of speed. The Admiralty, however, after wards came to the conclusion that they were too long for the purpose, and set about constructing shorter ships, by which it was contended the same results might be attained. A number of these vessels, however, including the Warrior and others, were first constructed. Mr. Watts was thee, displaced, and the new system of building shorter and wider ships was adopted. It was stated that we had twelve ships entirely plated and twenty partially plated. In the case of iron ships of the Royal Oak class partially plated, it was possible to make them comparatively sale, and so far as small vessels were concerned, it might be necessary to adopt that principle. He, at the same time, concurred with the hon. Member for Tavistock (Mr. Samuda) in thinking that to ensure a first-rate ship entire plating was requisite. When the Royal Oak was laid down the plan was to plate from end to end, but that system had since been altered, and although there was some security in partially plating iron vessels, it was useless to do so in the case of wooden vessels. In illustration of his argument he would mention the ease of the Alabama, whoso sides were so severely injured by the second shell which struck her that she immediately sunk. We were now engaged in building some eleven ships with a tonnage of 33,000, at an estimated cost of £2,262,000. Those ships were being built on Mr. Reed's plan, in accordance with the views, of the Admiralty, who must be held to be responsible for the acts of those whom they employed. He could not, he thought, demonstrate in a better way the results of the new system and the old than by citing the eases of the Agincourt and the Bellerophon. According to a Return which he had in his hand, the displacement of the Agincort was, he found, on the 11th of December, 1865, 9,000 tons, the indicated horse-power 6,867; the speed 15.433. He took his statement with regard to the Bellerophon from The Times, which, in giving an account of her trial on the 23rd of September last, set down her displacement at 5,630; indicated horse-power about 5,000; speed, 13.645. Now, from the displacement and the indicated horsepower it was possible to form a judgment as to the nature of the models on which both vessels were constructed. He found, then, that while an indicated horse power of 4.426 drove 9,000 tons displacement in the case of the Agincourt 13,548 knots. 5,000 indicated horsepower drove 5.630 in the case of the Bellerophon only 13.645—thus showing—the power exerted and the weight to be driven being taken into account—that the lines of the former vessel were much, superior to those of the latter.


The trials not being complete, the horse-power of the Bellerophon is not given in the Parliamentary Return.


said, he had quoted the figures which he mentioned from the account of her trial given in The Times, and that if they were incorrect he hoped the noble Lord would set the mistake right. We had so many of these new ships built on a new principle, involving the large outlay of over £2,000,000, that he thought it was the duty of the Government to send some of them out to sea, across the Bay of Biscay for instance, and to allow them to pass a whole winter in the Atlantic, with some of those built on the old principle, in order to enable the country to form an opinion as to whether the public money was being well expended or not in their construction. A question arose, also, with regard to the wooden ships of the Amazon class which we were now building. Those vessels had been represented by the noble Lord as intended to be the fastest ever built, surpassing in that respect even the Alabama. Now, the speed of the Amazon was, he believed, after several trials, found to be 12¼ knots—a small speed for the size of the ship and great engine power. It was said to arise from some defect in her machinery, but her capabilities ought, he thought, to have been better tested before proceeding with other vessels on the same model. He would now, with the permission of the Committee, quote an extract from a statement made by The Times' Portsmouth correspondent, who, writing on the 8th of this month, said— The Dan´e, 4, screw sloop, 1,081 tons, 300 horse-power, the further construction of which, at Portsmouth yard, was temporarily suspended some little time since, has been again taken in hand and will now be completed with her new form of fore-body—an entire alteration of her lines from the 'dead flat' forwards, and the substitution of an upright for an infalling stem from above the water-line. By this alteration it would appear that the Admiralty have at length discarded the fanciful theory of the modern school of French naval architecture—the submerged bluff plough-coulter shaped bow—and have allowed their Chief Constructor, Mr. E. J. Reed, to give the Dan´e a fore-body more in accordance with his own ideas. He would like to know whether that statement was correct? What we required for the protection of our commerce was not vessels with great speed, at the measured mile with engines indicating a very large horse-power, but vessels that could cruise for months together under canvas, and be a match for any cruisers in the world without using a single pound of coal, and yet when occasion required make use of steam. He believed the Amazon could not carry more than six days' coal. While finding fault with the class of vessels which were being built, it was only fair that he should state his own views on the subject. The noble Lord said that until we could reduce the number of men it was impossible materially to reduce the Navy Estimates. Under those circumstances, and considering the difficulty we had in getting men, it was expedient that we should turn our attention to the adoption of such a plan in the construction of ships as would enable us to secure equal efficiency with greater economy, by diminishing the number of men required, and, as a consequence, our expenditure. That end might in his opinion be attained by adopt- ing the system of building small iron-clad vessels—a view which the noble Lord would seem to favour in a speech which he made on the 6th of March in last year. He would refer to the comparative numbers of men on board broadside and turret-ships, and he believed the figures he was about to quote were accurate. The broadside of the Minotaur was 1,324, tonnage 6,621, number of men 705; the broadside of the Prince Consort 1,256, tonnage 4,065, number of men 505; the broadside of the Research 200, tonnage 1,253, number of men 135; the broadside of the Enterprise 220, tonnage 993, number of men 130; the broadside of the Scorpion 1,200, tonnage 1,833, number of men 170; the broadside of the Huascar 680 lb., tonnage 1,100, number of men 100. There was required for foreign service, especially for the coast of Africa and South America, a class of iron vessels of about 1,400 tons burden, which could go fully 12 knots an hour, fit to cope with wooden vessels, and which could be docked in the foreign stations. The country, rich as it was, could not afford to have vessels like the Agincourt and Bellerophon at those stations, which must be sent home for repairs in consequence of there being no dock large enough to receive them or repair them in. The class of vessel which he wished to see built would have sufficient accommodation for officers and crew, and would be of a sufficient height out of the water for any weather. Then the cost of constructing and working such vessels as the Agincourt was far too great. Indeed, unless we built smaller vessels which could cope with any wooden vessels in the world, there would never be a reduction in the Navy Estimates. With regard to the comparative power of iron-clads of small size over large wooden frigates, he would read an extract from a letter referring to the case of the Stonewall and the Niagara and the court martial held upon Commodore Craven— The question of saving of men must not be merely considered as in proportion to tonnage, but in proportion to the weight of broadside thrown and the work that can be done in actual warfare by such engines of war as well as the moral effects. To illustrate this I must call your attention to the late court martial on Commodore Craven, of the United States Navy, for not having attacked the Confederate iron-clad Stonewall with the two ships under his command, the Niagara and the Sacramento, the united tonnage of these vessels being 4,000 to 5,000 tons, with not less than 1,000 men, while the Stonewall had only one 300-pounder in a fixed turret, and a crew of 86 men. Commodore Craven refused to accept the challenge of the turret-ship, as it would have been certain destruction. The Court acquitted him. This proves what one small iron-clad can do against the large class of wooden ships with a number of men. A good deal had been said in that House about a vessel called the Huascar, which, however, he should not have alluded to at the present time if the noble Lord had not the other night depreciated her capability of carrying her crew. He wished to state to the Committee some particulars relating to that vessel. She was of l,100 tons, and 300 horse-power; a full rigged brig, armour-plated all round, 4½ inches thick, tapering at the ends. Her speed at the measured mile was 12¼ knots, and her armament consisted of two 300 lb, Armstrong guns in one turret and two broad side 40-pounders. The weight of her broadside was 680 lb., and she carried 100 men, the area per man for crew being 19.41. Now, he thought that was a fair amount of space for the accommodation of the crew, and the noble Lord would find it was greater than that afforded by many vessels in Her Majesty's service. In order to show the erroneousness of the idea of the noble Lord that the accommodation on board the Huascar was insufficient he might, perhaps, be allowed to read an extract from a letter received from the captain of that vessel after a severe storm in January last— Huascar, Brest, Jan. 23. Captain Salcedo wishes me to inform you that we arrived here all safe at noon to-day. We left Holyhead about 4 p.m. on the 20th; weather moderate, until midnight; made the run to Bardsey (32 miles) in 2½ hours. After that it blew harder and harder, with a heavy sea right ahead; shipping heavy spray, but nothing you could call a sea. When nearing Scilly it moderated; after passing the sea and wind were much less, made Ushant lights at 10 p.m. oil the 22nd. The ship behaves remarkably well at sea. Captain Salcedo thinks that when we have a little more weight out of her forward to lighten her she will be everything he could wish. The engines behaved remarkably well, with very little trouble. He might add that the Huascar had now arrived at Madeira, and that the letters received continued to give a most satisfactory account of her. [Lord CLARENCE PAGET: What is her height out of the water?] It was about five feet. There had been a good deal of discussion about a new ship which was going to be built, called the Monarch, and which was to be a very large turret-ship carrying four 600-pound-ers. A statement had been made the other day that vessels of 3,500 or 3,600 tons could be so constructed as to make fourteen knots an hour. Now, some friends of his had been called upon some months ago to investigate this matter, and he would state to the Committee the result of their inquiries. They had no doubt whatever that a vessel of 3,500 or 3,600 tons could be built so as to be capable of attaining that speed, and of carrying four 600-pounders, but then she could not be plated with 8-inch plates. She might, however, be plated with 6-inch plates, and yet he ten feet out of the water, which would be sufficient for all sea-going purposes. The noble Lord had made a great point of the importance of an additional four feet out of the water, but that would only present an additional target to the enemy without any corresponding advantages. He had procured some practical information on that subject from Mr. Inman, the manager and principal proprietor of the line of New York and Liverpool steamers. He had received from Mr. Inman the following memorandum of the height of side out of the water of several Liverpool and Now York screw steamers sailing for New York during the severe weather in December and January, about the time the London and Amalia were lost:— City of Baltimore, 9 feet; Kangaroo, 10 feet 3 inches;City of New York, 8 feet 10 inches; City of Boston, 9 feet; Etna, 10 feet 8 inches; City of Cork, 10 feet 3 inches. Now, none of these vessels put back or met with any accident on the voyage to New York, though they were driven against westerly gales in such a manner as no man-of-war ever was, he thought, therefore, that a cupola ship ten feet out of the water would be quite adapted for all sea-going purposes. He would now say a few words about Captain Cowper Coles. The firm with which he (Mr. Laird) was formerly connected had built or were building six vessels from his plans. They had received much advice and assistance from that able officer, and he must state that they never had any trouble whatever in working with him. It was true that Captain Coles was not a ship-builder—indeed, he never professed to be one—but his invention was nevertheless a wonderful one; and if the country took it up fully and fairly a great saving might probably be effected, both in the cost of constructing vessels and the number of officers and men required in the service. In his opinion Captain Coles ought to he allowed full scope, and it would have been better if he had had the designing of the ship to be built by the Admiralty, instead of its being placed in the hands of a gentleman who was wedded to a rival system. He believed that Captain Coles was sincerely desirous, without being actuated by a wish to acquire money, to make his invention useful to the country. Some disparaging allusions had been made to the Scorpion and Wyvern. They had been called unfortunate ships, but they were not originally intended to be seagoing vessels. When they were constructed the effect of firing over the deck was not known, and therefore the deck was plated with iron; but it had since been proved that such a measure was not necessary. In another place they had been called the greatest of failures, but they were not failures. They were perfectly seaworthy, and the success of the cupola system had been more advanced by those vessels than by anything else.


said, that according to a late Return the stock of stores in the Government yards amounted in value in April 1865 to £4,884,573. If he compared the amount of stores, the work done in a year in Government yards with the amount of stores and work done in private yards, he found that while in the latter the value of the stores was one-fourth of the value of the work done, in the former, the value of the stores was about three times the value of the work. He asked the noble Lord to point out a single instance of such extravagance in any private establishment. He thought, therefore, that instead of being called on to vote the large sum which was now proposed a smaller amount would be quite sufficient. As the Government had £5,000,000 stores in the yards it was unnecessary now to vote another million. The stores were now at too high a figure by £2,000,000. He believed that if an independent Committee, not composed of officials, were called upon they would unquestionably say that this £5,000,000 of stores was unnecessary for the amount of work done in the Government yards in a year.


said, the Estimate included coals.


Coals! I refer to a Return of naval stores presented to the House, including wood, iron, and so forth, but not coals.


said, he rose to order. The hon. Gentleman was not speaking of the Estimates, but of a Return.


said, the Vote under consideration was a Vote for stores for the naval dockyard.


said, he thought therefore that he was quite in order. If there was kept up from year to year a larger stock of stores than was necessary by an amount of £2,000,000, and if the interest on that value was taken at 3 per cent, it appeared that the Admiralty were wasting some £60,000 a year. He would now compare the expense of building ships in private yards with the cost of ships constructed in the Government yards. It appeared from a Return before the House that the Warrior, of 40 guns, 6,109 tons, and 1,250-horse power, which was built by the Thames Shipbuilding Company, cost £286,285, and £74,710 for engines, total £360,995, and that the Black Prince, with the same amount of guns, tonnage, and horse-power, built by Napier and Sons, cost £288,911, and £74,902 for engines, total £363,813. On the other hand, the Achilles, of 20 guns, 6,121 tons, about the same amount of tonnage therefore as the other two, and 1,250-horsc-power, built by the Admiralty at Chatham, cost for hull and fittings £388.219, and for engines and fittings, £69,571=£452,790. No doubt, the Achilles had extra work in the shape of a belt, which neither the Black Prince or the Warrior had. He had inquired of a naval architect of some position and of an hon. Member of the House who had a large shipbuilding-yard, and they both stated, independently of each other, that the cost of that belt would not exceed £25,000. He, therefore, deducted that amount from the cost of the Achilles, which left £427,790. But there was no charge made in this for salaries of clerks and foremen, pensions, interest on plant, stores, &c., which would add, as he had on a previous occasion shown to the House, about 40 per cent to all the ships built by the Admiralty. Therefore, we must add 40 per cent to the cost of the Achilles. So that if he instituted a fair comparison between the cost of an Admiralty-built ship and one built in a private yard, he should have to add £171,116 to the £427,790, the cost of the Achilles, making in all £598,906 against £360,995 for the Warrior, and £363,813 for the Black Prince; so that the Warrior cost less than the Achilles by £237,911, and than the Black Prince less by £235,093. There was another point—the cost of repairing certain old vessels. He alluded on a former occasion to the Return for 1863–4; he would now allude to that of 1864–5, and he found that the Admiralty had not improved. They had, in fact, gone from bad to worse. He would show that by reference to three vessels. The Niger, designed and built by Lang in 1816 at Woolwich, was lengthened there in 1848. She had 13 guns, was 1,072 tons, and 350 horse-power. She might have been built at £33 per ton, and £55 per horse=54,656. The repairs; of this old wooden vessel in 1864–5 cost the Admiralty £62,437, and adding into rest on plant, stores, and superintendence, items omitted by the Admiralty—20 per cent only in this instance, because the Admiralty have now adopted my suggestions and added the cost of clerks and foremen to ships—the repairs cost £75,000, being upwards of £20,000 more than they could have built a new vessel for. The High flyer, designed by Watts and built by Mare, in 1851, of 21 guns, 1,161 tons, and 250-horse power, would cost now, at £55 per horse-power and £33 per ton, £52,063. In 1864–5 the repairs made by the Admiralty on her cost £30,850, according to Admiralty figures, but adding 20 per cent for interest on capital and plant, her cost would be £37,000. In 1863–4 her repairs cost £26,255. to which 40 per cent must be added, because in this year, the wages of clerks and foremen were not added to the cost of ships, making in 1863–4, £50,000. These repairs, then, cost the Admiralty in two years, according to their own figures, £67,102, but really adding interest, and wages of clerks and foremen, £87,000. The Sparrowhawk, designed by Watts, and built by Young, of Limehouse, of 4 guns, 676 tons, and 200 horse-power, cost new £33,308. The repairs to this ship in 1864–5 cost the Admiralty, according to their figures, £32,653, but really £40,000. The value of old materials when ships were broken up, clear of all expense, was £2 per ton; so that if sold for old materials the Niger should have fetched £2,144, the Highflyer £2,322, and the Sparrowhawk £1,352=£5,818. The repairs of these three vessels cost £202,000; new vessels would have cost only £134,209, so that there was a loss occasioned by not selling the old materials and buying new vessels of £67,791. He confidently appealed to the hon. Members for Tavistock and Birkenhead, whether the rule was not that no ship should be repaired if the repairs would cost half as much as a new ship. If so, deducting the half cost of three similar new ships from the cost of the repairs would show that under this head the Admiralty had fueled away no less a sum than £132,000; and the loss through the excess cost of the Achilles, excess of stock, of stores, and repairs of these three ships, was £430,000. He put it to the Committee whether the Admiralty should be permitted, in defiance of the opinion of the country, to repair year after year old ships at such enormous cost.


said, the Estimate involved three distinct matters. It involved an entire substitution of Royal yards for private yards for building. It involved partial armour-plating. It involved also, what he considered to be the unnecessary size of the vessels. The entire substitution of the Royal yards for private yards was a grave question. It was proper that the Government should to some extent be able to manufacture their own vessels, but it would be most disadvantageous to do this as a general system. The Return which the Government had put forth clearly showed that (without increasing the cost by the large percentage stated by the hon. Member who had just spoken) the cost was greater in the Government than in the private yards. The vessels built in private yards were from 20 to 25 per cent cheaper than those built in the Government dockyards. Thus the Agincourt and the Minotaur, built in private yards, cost 20 per cent less than the Achilles, built by Government, Then if the vessels were to be built in private yards the Government might save the £60,000 or £70,000 which it was pro-posed In spend on new machinery for constructing vessels in Government yards. But by building vessels of war in the dockyards exclusively, Government lost the advantage of the advice and co-operation of the private shipbuilders. So long as Government vessels were built entirely in the public yards the Admiralty shut themselves out from the advantages of the competition of the private builders. Personally, he was not concerned in the matter. He did not tender for the building of Government vessels. But where the whole affair was novel the interchange of the ideas entertained inside and outside the public dockyards was of great importance. When Government vessels were constructed of wood there was considerable advantage in building in the Royal dockyards on account of the large stock of seasoned timber contained in those yards, and which no private yard could command. Another reason, then, was that the Government yards had the advantage of large experience, the experience of centuries, of what had been done with wooden vessels, and as the commerce of the country had not been developed, the Government had accumulated in their dockyards the principal experience that existed with regard to large ships, and especially large war ships. This was now entirely altered, and the amount of knowledge possessed by the principal private builders in the country was very considerably in advance of that which the Government could command, whose officers were, as to construction in iron, possessed of a very limited experience. The next thing was the mode of construction contemplated in the intended ships. As to the Hercules, she was to be a porthole ship, built on the system to which the Government had adhered, and that was the partial instead of the entire armour-coating, the armour being increased in thickness. The midship section and waterbelt were to be covered with a coating of 8 inches of iron; but from one-half to two-thirds of the vessel would be left wholly unprotected. But weight of armour and speed depended on each other inversely—that is to say, armour and speed were exchangeable terms, and the amount of exchangeability could almost be defined. It was impossible to have a vessel covered with heavy armour and at the same time possessing great speed, and a fast lightly plated vessel would easily destroy a slow though partially heavily plated ship. He thought a fast cupola ship plated from stem to stern with 4½ inches of iron would easily destroy a vessel like the Hercules, with its thickly-plated central battery and its unprotected ends. Armour of 6 inches thickness might exist with 14 knots of speed, while 8 inches would give only 12 knots; and in this case the advantage would be with the ships of the thinner plating and the greater speed. In the case of the fast vessel, her cupola or turret guns might have the range of nearly the semi-circle, at least 150 degrees out of the 180; while the vessel with the thicker plating and slower speed would be confined to a range of 50 degrees. It followed that the faster vessel had only to choose its position, fire, move out of the range of the slower vessel, and then pass round and again fire into the unprotected sides of its opponent. If a vessel could command speed, so as to play on its adversary, and the adversary could not return the fire, the destruction of the slower vessel was only a question of time. If the slow vessel ran away, the fast vessel would fire into its stern as it had before done into its bows. Speed, then, was the great matter to be sought, but this was impossible with an extra weight of armour. And what was the necessity for such thick armour? He believed that no instance was known of shells having been carried through armour, even of 4½ inches thickness. Unquestionably portions of shell had penetrated, but after they were broken up by the force of the impact, and he believed no instance existed of a shell having passed through such armour whole, and having been subsequently exploded by its contents when clear of the vessel's side which had been penetrated by it. In fact, the stern-pieces of the shell remained on the outside of the target, showing that they never could have acted as shells at all. When the Admiralty called on Captain Coles to give them his ideas of what he would require to have built for a sea-going cupola ship they received from him a letter which they submitted to a Committee. He thought the Admiralty had got into the right road when they submitted the matter to a Committee, but he could not conceive why they had branched off in other directions. He thought the Admiralty were making a great mistake in building a cupola-ship with 14 feet of freeboard, as they could easily obtain a good sea-going ship that was not so high out of the water. He had suggested a cupola-ship 9 feet out of the water, but that was too little to please the noble Lord. The hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), however, had instanced vessels very little more than 9feet out of the water which had crossed and re-crossed the Atlantic. He (Mr. Samuda) would mention three vessels which he had built, the progress of which he bad watched for three years with great satisfaction in their voyages to and from Odessa. The vessels were 3,000 tons each, 265 feet long, with a freeboard of 7 feet. They had performed their voyages with great regularity, and had brought home cargoes of from 1,800 to 2,000 tons of dead weight. They had neither poops nor forecastles, and their cargoes had never been damaged. In building a vessel for commercial purposes, the question of a foot of freeboard was a matter of no importance; but in the case of a cupola vessel, if they were lavish of the freeboard when it was not required it was bad engineering, He did not propose to cut down the size of the vessel in the way suggested by many hon. Gentlemen, but was prepared to accept the position which the Admiralty laid down, that they wanted a good sea going vessel with the qualities of a cruiser. With reference to the Prince Albert, he was not prepared to say that she would not make a good cruiser, but he believed she would not be so good as some other ships might be made. She, how ever, had been tried, and the trial was satisfactory, and he was glad to find that she had been commissioned, and that an opportunity would be given of testing her qualities. While on this subject, he was anxious to remove an impression which had been caused by some remarks which he had made on a previous evening. He had expressed his regret that the Prince Albert had been twelve months out of the builder's hands without having been tried. He did not intend to convey the impression that nothing had to be done by the Government to the Prince Albert, after she had left the hands of the builders. The fact was, that a good deal of work had to be done, for they had to put in the turrets, which consisted of large and heavy-ironwork, and as this work was of an entirely new character, and one which the Government officials were unused to, he would go further, and say that fie did not wish his remarks to convey censure on the Admiralty in regard to the Prince Albert, but that his criticisms should he considered I to be restricted to the genera] policy of the Government in the re-construction of the iron clad fleet. He did not wish to interfere with the progress of the Estimates, but thought that as the great object was to get the right description of vessel, the best course would he to appoint a Committee to inquire into the whole matter, with the view of suggesting a general and comprehensive system, which should enter into the construction of all future vessels.


Sir, I am anxious to remove from the mind of the hon. Member for Lincoln (Mr. Seely) any impression that I intended the slightest discourtesy to him when I stated that in my opinion he had exceeded the fair limit; of discussion. I may add that we are all very much indebted to the hon. Gentleman for the labour with which he devotes himself to the examination of the Estimates. It appears, indeed, to me that the hon. Member for Lincoln is pursuing, with re- gard to the present Board of Admiralty, the same line of policy as that adopted by my noble Friend opposite (Lord Clarence Paget) with regard to the Admiralty which preceded him. That policy of my noble Friend was very successful, because it secured to him the office which he has held for seven years with such distinction, and I hope that the course which the hon. Member for Lincoln has now adopted may be similarly successful, and meet with its appropriate reward. [Mr. SEELY: I do not want it.] I should like to say a few words with reference to what fell from my hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird), and here I may remark that I am glad to perceive that he is so far recovered as to be able to resume his seat in the House and take part in our debates. My hon. Friends the Members for Birkenhead and Tavistock, and other competent judges, have agreed in their opinions on the policy of the Admiralty in building for Captain Coles so large a ship as one of 5,000 tons, and having listened to these discussions it appears to me that the question really is whether it is necessary or not that this ship should be of so large a size, or that it should he fourteen feet out of the water. I therefore desire to ask toy noble Friend whether or not he intends, notwithstanding all that has been said in this House, to persevere in his intention to build ships of 5,000 tons, and of such a height out of the water? If it be his intention I desire further to ask him whether the Admiralty is going to build those ships with the full approbation of Captain Cowper Coles. I trust that as the Admiralty have at length consented to build a seagoing ship upon the turret principle, their Lordships will fairly test the invention of Captain Coles, and allow no consideration to interfere with that trial, and I would state how heartily I agree with the hon. Member for Birkenhead in expressing his very great satisfaction at hearing that Captain Coles has been reinstated by the Admiralty in the place he formerly held. I think the Admiralty have acted kindly and generously in so doing; and I hope they will not expend money on sea-going ships, professedly built upon his plan, without his full approbation and sanction as to the mode in which it should be done. As I have thus adverted to Captain Coles, Sir, I trust I may be permitted to trouble the House with a matter which is somewhat of a personal nature. I have been extremely surprised in consequence of having had reason to be- lieve that the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty (the Duke of Somerset) has stated that when he came into office Captain Coles had already applied to the previous Board, of which Sir John Pakington was at the head, requesting that his plan might be tried. That Board intimated to him that his application had been laid before the then constructors, that they had disapproved the system, and that consequently the Admiralty declined to adopt it. Sir, when these words came under my notice, I confess I felt great surprise, he-cause I had no recollection of anything of the kind. But several years have passed away since this is alleged to have occurred, and the method of building armour-plated ships has undergone changes. At that time, in 1859, I was engaged in commencing the Warrior and Black Prince, the first armour-ships we had; and I certainly think that if the Admiralty of that day had declined to consider the proposals made by Captain Coles they would not have been open to the least blame. My complaint of the Admiralty with regard to Captain Coles is not that they have not made experiments to try Captain Coles' system, but that having approved the principle he offered for their acceptance and declared that it was worth a trial, they have never fairly tried it. My right bon. Friend the Member for Tyrone (Mr. Corry) who I am sorry to say is prevented by illness from being here to-night, has supplied me with two letters written by him to Captain Coles, which the Committee will doubtless permit me to read. The first is as follows:— Admiralty, March 21, 1859. Sir,—In reply to your letter of the 17th inst. I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that your plan of a shot-proof screen has been received and is under consideration.—I am, Sir, your very humble servant, H. Corry. The Committee will perceive that this is no summary rejection of Captain Coles' plan. The other letter runs— Admiralty, 18th May, 1859. Sir,—I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that in compliance with the request of the Secretary of State for War, Major General Peel, they are pleased to permit your employment on a Committee in the War Office.—I am, Sir, your very humble servant, W. G. ROMAINE. I am in a position to state, therefore, that to the best of my belief we never disapproved of Captain Coles' system, and that the Admiralty never declined to adopt it. On the contrary, my hon. and gallant Friend Sir William Martin, the first sea Lord at that time, received Captain Coles' suggestion with the greatest courtesy and kindness, and paid great attention to the exhibition of models, and the substance of Sir William Martin's communication to Captain Coles was, that as the War Office had undertaken to construct an experimental cupola the Admiralty would await the result It is of very little importance whether the Admiralty did at that time decline to adopt Captain Coles' invention or not, but it is only just and right that the truth should be known. I think I have stated enough to show that the noble Duke at the head of the Admiralty has unintentionally, and through mistake, been led into an error of the facts.


Sir, with regard to the observations which have fallen from my right hon. Friend opposite respecting certain statements made by the noble Duke in another place, I think it would, perhaps, be better to leave that matter to be dealt with by the noble Duke himself. But, Sir, I wish to lay before the Committee my opinions respecting the armour-ships. But previous to doing so let me assure the hon. Member for Lincoln that he does the Admiralty considerable injustice. No one approves more than I of his undertaking the task which he has assumed. I am very proud to hear it said that I also in former days undertook the same task; for I think an invaluable service is rendered the country by hon. Gentlemen who keep a sharp watch upon the naval expenditure. At the same time, it is well that they should be accurate in their remarks. I think he said that our stores were something like five times the amount of our annual consumption. [Mr. SEELY: Or thereabouts.] This of course comprises the consumption represented by Section 1 of Vote 10, which amounts to £1,000,000 in round numbers. My hon. Friend really ought to state fairly what the expenditure is when he makes such a charge; for whereas the expenditure in private yards is entirely on account of shipbuilding and repairing, our Vote includes an item of £380,000 for coals consumed by the fleet and in the dockyard. He will also find that the Vote includes an item on account of materials for making dockyard machinery. This, it will be observed, materially qualifies the statement he made. I am sure he did not do it intentionally, but the statement conveys an erroneous im- pression to the Committee Now, Sir, with regard to the very important question of armour-ships—and I will first deal with the defensive part of the question—do you want a ship to resist heavy guns, or do you simply want a ship to keep out shells? Now, let us consider the question in the light of results. We have a 6½-ton rifled gun, the same that most of our ships carry in their broadsides, and the Warrior target has been pierced by it. Now, let me give you an idea of the defensive power of the Warrior. Her maximum weight per square foot, and that really represents the defensive power of the ship, is 427 lb.; and the Scorpion's maximum weight is 340 lb.: per square inch. With these facts before us, I ask my bon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Laird) who built her, whether he would be satisfied if the Admiralty proposed to build a really powerful turret-ship for cruising purposes and to take a place in the line-of-battle if it could be pierced by a 6½-ton gun. Now, I will show you what a 12-ton gun which we can also and do carry, will do, and scientific men will tell you that a 20-ton gun could, be carried. The 12-ton gun has pierced the Lord Warden target. The Lord Warden has 4½-inch iron plates, 8½-ineh teak backing, 1½-inch iron skin on 12½-inch timbers, and 8-inch inside planking. Her maximum weight per square foot is 428 lb., but I should have said that she differs from the Warrior in this respect, that, she has thicker plates but thinner backing. The 12-ton gun pierced the Lord Warden target, but it failed to penetrate the Hercules target. The Hercules has 8-inch plates, 12-inch teak, 1½-inch inner skin, over 26-inch of teak, and ¾-inch skin; her maximum weight being 737 lb. to the square loot against 427 lb. in the Warrior and 428 lb. in the Lord Warden. Have yon any desire that vessels should now be commenced to be pierced through and through by a 12-ton gun, bearing in mind that, we expect to arm them with a 20-ton gun and that we have no right to suppose that the enemy opposed to them will carry less than a 20-ton gun? If my bon. Friend (Mr. Samuda) went to sea with me, would he like to he in a ship which would be to a dead certainty pierced through by a 12-ton gun, and when in all probability he might be opposed by a ship carrying a 20-ton gun? Of course, if hon. Members are of opinion that the Admiralty should build ships that would not offer a resistance to these heavy guns, we need not build ships of 5,000 tons. [Mr. LAIRD: Would the turret-ship be wholly or partially plated?] She will be partially plated—plated down to the water-line—and her central battery, her turrets, all her machinery, and, indeed, all her vitals will be protected. I may also add that there will be a shield for her bow gun, The greatest thickness of the plating of the Monarch will be 7 inches, tapering at the ends. Besides that she will have an inner skin and a backing. The question is whether we are to have a vessel that will resist these heavy guns. As yet the target, of the Hercules has not been penetrated. She has been fired at by the 12-ton gun with a steel shot of 221 lb. and a charge of from 14 lb. to 501b. of powder She has resisted that shot, and we believe that she is not as strong as the Bellerophon. Hon Members most not suppose that we have not had all the difficulties of the case under our consideration, and all I ask is if it is meant that we should send a ship into action built as a first class ship which is liable to be pierced through and through by the guns which may be brought against her? I now come to the question of speed. We can have this thickness of plating in much smaller vessels, but we must sacrifice speed. If you mean to get, with a given weight, fine lines, you must give tonnage in order to get speed. My hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead will, I believe, fully corroborate that assertion. The next question is the question of free-board or the height of the deck out of water. It will, no doubt, be said that vessels go to sea with a less proportion of free board than we propose. Now free-board is a matter of comparison, and depends upon the length of the vessel, A boat 100 feet long does not require to be s I high out of the water as a boat 200 feet long. It is not the opinion of Mr. Reed alone that we have studied, it is a question of practical seamanship: we take upon ourselves our full share of the responsibility, and we have no wish, to send out a vessel to cruise which has not a decent free-board. The hon. Baronet the Member fin- Bristol (Sir Morton peto mentioned the American Monadnock, a vessel which has been sent round the Horn. She is going out in defence of the port of San Francisco, and she is one of tin; most formidable engines of war in existence. Site carries heavy guns, but they carry comparatively a smaller charge; and she has only 2 feet of free-board. I have received a letter in reference to her from Rio Ja- neiro, which describes her as being in that harbour with a slight sea breeze coming in and the water washing over her decks. Yet the Americans say that vessel is perfectly fit to go round the Horn. But is that vessel fit to blockade a port and remain out at sea; and would the House submit to our building vessels which when they went to sea would be like a half tide rock; half under water if a breeze came on? We want ships not only made to fight, but ships upon which we must be able to live as well as fight. It is said that in going into action a vessel with much free-board will expose too much side to the fire of the enemy. No doubt that is an inconvenience, but you must have a compromise of some sort. One of the principles which is supposed to constitute the value of a ship in the present day is its power as a ram. There are many people who tell us that the next great naval action will be decided by vessels running into one another. But what chance would a vessel of 2 feet, 5 feet, 8 feet, or 10 feet free-board have against a vessel with 14 feet free-board? The latter would cut her right down, being so much above her. These, however, are all questions of detail, which are perhaps almost tedious in their relation; but they are practical questions for sailors. It is not a shipbuilders' question only, for nobody knows better than a practical sailor the inconvenience of a large vessel. Take the case of the Agincourt. Magnificent as she and ships of that class are, I would infinitely prefer the command of a smaller vessel, even at some sacrifice, because large ships are so unhandy. We know that the smaller you can build a vessel to do a certain work the better, and in coming to the decision we have arrived at it is not a question of Mr. Reed's opinion, or, indeed, of the opinion of Captain Coles, but we have acted upon the advice of practical naval officers, who are decidedly of opinion that if we mean to combine great speed, great defensive powers, and great sea-going qualities along with great offensive powers—that is to say, carrying these enormous heavy guns—we should not be justified in constructing vessels of a smaller tonnage than the turret-ships we are about to build. In making these remarks, I have no intention of casting any reflection upon the vessels built by the family of my hon. Friend the Member for Birkenhead or any other shipbuilding firm. Let it be remembered that we have small turret-ships and ships that do not possess this power, and I have no doubt that they will do good service; but the question is whether the country will take our opinion, as practical naval men, that if you want to build a real first-rate ship for line-of-battle and to carry two turrets you must have nothing less than a ship of 5,000 tons. In regard to the question of cost, I am bound in justice to tell you that there is no comparison to be drawn from the cost of a ship built in our dockyards and the cost of one built in a private yard. I believe that the firms which have built ships for warlike purposes in private yards will tell you that the ships they have built have not been a source of profit to them, and that they would require a higher price if they built again. My hon. Friend the Member for Lincoln (Mr. SEELY) referred to the Hercules, the last ship we built. Now, that ship is built upon an improved principle. She has a double bottom up to a certain height, which would give her very great advantages in case she got aground. Her tonnage was quoted by my hon. Friend as the same as that of the Warrior and Black Prince. But what was the amount of material we put into that ship? The weight of material was 6,740 tons in the Hercules, 6,300 tons in the Black Prince, and 6,020 tons in the Warrior. The Hercules cost £60,000 more than she would have done, but for the peculiar circumstances under which she was finished at Gillingham, whence the artificers had to be taken from the dockyard at Chatham, at some miles distance, involving an expense which was properly charged against the ship. At that time they had no means to finish her in the dockyard. That could never occur again, as they were improving the dockyard there, and for the future they would be able to build ships there at a much cheaper rate. There were also peculiarities about her construction which caused a complication that has been avoided by improvements introduced in the construction of her successors; and the attainment of simplicity is one of the things in which Mr. Reed has saved vast sums of money. I shall feel obliged if the hon. Member for Birkenhead will state what the speed of the Alabama was?


With 400 tons of dead weight, 12 knots an hour.


We intended and expected that the speed of the Amazon would have been 13 knots an hour; she went 12½ knots. She is 53 feet shorter than the Alabama.


The Amazon has not been tried at her deep-lead line. The engines of the Alabama indicated 1,100 horse-power; those of the Amazon 1,800 horse-power.


If our ship does not turn out to be so fast as the Alabama, I shall be glad if the hon. Member will bring the subject before the House. I think she beats the magnificent ship of the hon. Member. There is always some difference between the estimated and real speed which cannot he guarded against Nothing is more uncertain than what the speed of ships will be; and a most extra ordinary illustration is furnished by the Warrior and the Black Prince, They were built, so to speak, in the same mould Every line was the same; the engines were similar, and built by the same makers, and yet the difference in their speed was one knot an hour. My honest belief is that the speed of the Amazon will turn out to be within half a knot of the speed anticipated. I will say nothing of the Huascar as I know nothing of her, but neither the Scorpion nor the Wyvern are vessels fit to put British sailors into, Their accommodation is faulty, and the captain of one reported that the men could not be kept tidy and clean, in fact, that discipline could not be maintained. I hope the Committee will not press us in respect to the size of our first sea-going turret ship, but will put confidence in the Admiralty, and hereafter we shall only be too glad to be guided by what experience may determine.


said, he happened to have the advantage of knowing neither Mr. Reed nor Captain Coles, but bethought that the conflict of opinion upon this subject was remarkable in such a great ship building country. A vessel of 5,000 tons he thought too large, and it would imply a cost of nearly half a million, he would have appointed a scientific committee to take the opinions of practical men; and, while accepting the results of its labours as a guide, he would not have relieved the Admiralty of responsibility. A ship of 3,500 tons was sufficiently large for all purposes. As the Royal Sovereign had been converted from a three-decker into a cupola-ship, would it not be economical to use her as a target, to have her fired at in earnest with a large gun at close quarters, to strike her cupola, and see what the effect would be? If it were damaged so that it could not turn round, a defect would be suggested. It was well worth consideration whether that vessel ought not to be used in some such fashion; and even if she were destroyed, the loss might prove a gain. It was expedient that our dockyards should be maintained in perfect order and thorough efficiency, though in a skeleton shape without too many men or too many works in hand, healthy competition being produced by the giving of a few orders to private yards. In case of war on an emergency it would not do to have to trust to private yards to produce the vessels necessary for the defence of the country It was no satisfaction to the country to fine a contractor by insisting upon the forfeiture of his deposit for non-fulfilment of contract. The accounts now submitted were in a form much clearer and more complete than be had ever before seen them, and whoever bad re-arranged them deserved the thanks of the country; but he missed the "plant" account which the Government bad promised to supply, and which would show at once the loss sustained by having large public yards. The noble Lord had stated that there was a saving of £4,000 this year, but, the Estimates last year were £10,234,000 while this year they were £10,238,000, showing an increase of £4,000, He wished to call the attention of the noble Lord to one particular point in connection with this Vote, and he hoped that the noble Lord would give the Committee some explanation of the extra receipts and repayments in respect to the Vote of last year; because it appeared to him (Mr. Fleming) that instead of the Estimate being £4,000 less this year than the last, it was really £4,000 more, arising from this important item of extra receipts and repayments, he wished to know whether there was any proper check with regard to these estimated receipts and repayments, from what source they came, and whether there was any limit to the amount. He observed, too, in the dockyard valuation account that the year began with materials valued at £.5,000,000, while at the close of the year the value had declined to £4,884,000 He should like an explanation of the way in which that valuation was made, because if it did not consist, of materials which might at any moment be made available in building or repairs, the figures were misleading, He would urge the propriety of getting rid of odd materials such as he bad seen in the dockyards, for by keeping them in stock they lost the interest of the money, and their value became depre- ciated. He knew that there was a great number of parcels or pieces of timber always lying about, which in private yards were used up for some purpose or another; whereas in the public yards he believed they were allowed to accumulate. Another item to which he desired to call attention was that of £88,000 as the increased value of timber and stores in the re-valuation. He wished to know if this was included in the before-mentioned sum of £4,884,000? Passing on to the dockyard expenditure account, he observed that an item of £19,573, received for chips and odds and ends, had not been paid into the Exchequer, as was the usual practice. There might have been a good reason for this, but an explanation should be given. The next point he would notice was as to breaking up old ships and of half finished new vessels. There are, by the blue book, page 2, about 100 vessels building, converting and fitting for the year 1864–5, and of these, about one-third were ordered to be taken down and materials returned into store. There was about 44,000 tons of shipping and about 9,000 horsepower. What was the cost of this large number of useless vessels? It was obvious that by breaking up a large number of vessels the Estimates might be reduced by £100,000 without the cause of the reduction being known. The noble Lord had stated the number broken up since 1859 as 350 or 360, but he should much like a Return showing all the vessels which the country possessed, whether in commission or in reserve, the date when each was laid down and finished, or when purchased, and, what was still more important, the total sum that each ship had cost. It appeared from the blue book that there were about 800,000 tons of shipping, the property of the country, the value of which might be taken atfroui£35,000,000to £40,000,000. The interest of that at 3 per cent, with the requisite amount for depreciation, would amount to a very large sum. It seemed that the sum produced by the sale of a large number of old vessels was only £58,339, to which might be added a small sum for the metal returned into store. He objected to the system of breaking up ships without sufficient consideration; they ought rather to be sold without breaking up. [LORD CLARENCE PAGET: We do sell a great many.] Yes, but considering the great amount of metal in them it was the small results that came from the sales that he complained of. And not only should vessels be more fre- quently sold without breaking up, but every portion of material which could not be used ought to be sold at once, instead of being allowed to accumulate in the dockyards, and while uselessly occupying space gradually deteriorating in value. The Government paid a large sum for transport service, especially when there was any pressure upon them for the conveyance of troops, and it was worthy of the consideration of the Admiralty whether it was not possible to make a large number of their vessels available for the transport service. Private persons often made the value of the ship in a couple of these trips. The Returns in the blue book showed that some of the vessels repaired cost an excessive sum of money. The net charge in one year 1864–5 for repairs to the Basilisk, for example, was £33,000, or nearly £30 per ton. The Cadmus cost about the same per ton, the Clio £14 a ton, and so on. He should like to know whether there was any proper and systematic arrangements at the Admiralty by which these and other similar matters were discussed year by year, and carried out under one responsibility. The fluctuating character of the Admiralty was a serious evil, and he doubted whether they would be able to carry out the economies promised in these accounts unless the affairs of the navy were managed under one settled and continuous responsibility. There ought to be a more continuous chain of responsibility as to the purchase of materials, the employment of men, and all other branches of expenditure, than there now appeared to be. He attributed much of this to the shifting composition of the Board of Admiralty, which often gave the finishing of work to different persons in the place of those who commenced it.


said, that if he hesitated to give his approval to the intention of the Government to build new vessels it was because he believed that naval construction was still in a state of experiment, and that little was as yet known either of the best shape of vessels or the best description of ordnance. The noble Lord had given the Committee two or three instances of the resisting power of the vessels now afloat. The Hercules, it appeared, possessed a resisting power given by plates of 8 inches of iron in addition to a 12-inch backing of teak, and the Monarch was to have armour-plates 7 inches thick. He failed to gather from the noble Lord the thickness of the backing, but he supposed there was to be an equal backing of teak. These facts to a large extent showed that the Admiralty—and he was not disposed to blame them for it—had not yet made up their minds, he was entitled to assume that the Monarch I would not be a more heavily armed ship than the Hercules. The ships which we had afloat had iron plates of from 8 to 4½ inches thick, with from 19 to 8 inches of teak backing, and were from over 0,000 to 2,000 tons, and differed materially in almost all their classes; neither with regard to; them nor with regard to the cupola vessels had they reached anything which the noble Lord the Secretary to the Admiralty would take upon himself the responsibility of saying was a perfect ship of war Without expressing an opinion for or against the cupola system, he might observe that we had never built a ship carrying the cupola which bad yet been tried under fire. The cupola vessels that had been used during the coast warfare in America were of a totally different construction from those which were built here, the latter were of heavy tonnage, with a large sea-board. The Government should pause before it expended a considerable sum of money in building vessels of a class which certainly up to the present time had not proved quite satisfactory. Admiral Halstead had made a very striking remark respecting the united fleets of England and France, which assembled on our shores last summer He stated that the French ships as they went away looked like a squadron that could sail well and fight well together, whereas the English fleet sailed irregularly and everywhere. It would he, in his opinion, advisable to vote liberal sums for further experiments before they incurred a heavy outlay in building upon models which had not as vet been found suitable to the purpose intended. He would go much further and say that the Royal Sovereign, costly as she may have been, if fired at as an experimental ship, would, although destroyed by the trial, save thousands if not millions to the country, if the result of the experiments gave solid proof of what such a ship ought to be.


said, he thought it would be well for the Committee to consider whether the assurances held out that night by the Secretary to the Admiralty were likely to be realized. Having carefully watched the statements made year after year when these Votes were taken, he had arrived at the conviction, which was confirmed by the testimony of high practical authority, that the results had not been equal to the promises and expectations under which the public money had been voted. Such assurances as had been offered to them that night were to he regarded in the light of contracts, on the faith of which large sums of money were granted for the purposes of the navy; and, wholly irrespective of party consideration, he should feel it his duty to point out the discrepancies which might arise between those contracts and the results obtained. When, a few years ago, the progress of science rendered necessary the re-construction of the navy, the public generally felt that the substitution of iron for wood would place this country in a position in which it never stood before. Iron was a specialty of England, and the facility with which our shipbuilding artizans—both in our public and our private yards—had changed from the one material to the oilier showed that the handicraft of iron was a specialty of Englishmen. With these advantages they might not now to be still in the experimental stage alluded to by the last speaker, but they ought to have results to which they could point with pride. They possessed great advantages in these combinations; but one important element was wanting to insure success, and that was simply design; and yet it was in this most essential necessity that naval construction had most signally failed. The discrepancies which he had previously pointed out between the promises held out to them and the performance was not confined to the ease of the Amazon, one of a class of seven or eight vessels laid clown and built avowedly for the protection of our commerce and as the police of the seas. The sister ship of the Amazon, the Danae, had been in perfect frame; she had been taken down from the midship section, but thirty one frames were now standing; she was to be lengthened, and a completely new bow was to be put into her, irrespective of the waste of public money which such a system involved. He would ask, what was to become of the five or six other vessels of that class—whether they were to he subjected to this new style of naval construction, or are they to remain failures, was a question into which he was unable to enter. We had not of recent years constructed a single man-of-war to which considerable objection might not fairly be taken. Take the most perfect vessel stated to be yet produced—the Bellerophon, he had visited her with great interest, and while he saw in her much to admire, he also saw much that excited disappointment. If the original design of that vessel were placed in the Library side by side with her design at the present moment, no Member of the House could possibly recognize her as the Bellerophon that was described in the House some years ago. It was stated in the papers that she had her preliminary trial yesterday, that the trial was to be repeated that day, and that the final trial at the measured mile was to take place tomorrow. But the papers did not state that for the purpose of that trial at the measured mile sixteen feet more funnel had been added with the intention of its being removed again as soon as the trial at the measured mile had been completed. What dependence was to be placed on results so produced? With regard to motive power, the class of engines employed, they were unexceptionable as regards make, but judged by the fuel consumed, he did not think that that economy which had been effected in the mercantile service, had been carried out by the Admiralty, as the Returns he had moved for would show. Captain Coles had been reinstated, and be hoped the promise made by the noble Lord last year would be carried out. The noble Lord stated then that Captain Coles had been directed by the Admiralty to prepare drawings, that he had the assistance of draughtsmen, that every other aid would he rendered him, and when he had sent in his designs, if they were approved contracts would be invited from the shipbuilding firms of the country to carry them into effect. He would only ask that that promise should be fulfilled in a bonâ fide way, and that Captain Coles should be allowed to decide whether he could not do all he undertook to do, with a vessel of less tonnage than the ship now proposed to be built.


said, in reply to the hon. Member for Devonport (Mr. Fleming) that his hon. Friend, if he referred to the accounts, would find that they had been prepared in proper form. The last item of £21,937 was the actual difference between two valuations at the commencement and at the end of the year, and it was such an item as must have appeared in any account to make it balance correctly. The Estimates under Vote 10 provided for that amount of the stock only which was required to keep up or increase the quantity necessary in the view of the Government. His hon. Friend would find that in this re- spect the account for the year was precisely such as a shipbuilder would furnish. It was impossible to include in the money Estimates a statement of the value of every material which would he employed in the building or repairing of ships in the course of a year.


said, he was very much struck by the remarks of the hon. Member for Liverpool (Mr. Graves) that sixteen feet of temporary funnel had been added to the Bellerophon, in order that she might gain additional speed. Any speed so obtained was delusive, and he wished to ask whether it was true or not that any such discreditable trick had been resorted to? If it were true he hoped the noble Lord would say that it should never occur again.


said, he had gathered from the sketch which the noble Lord had given of the Achilles, that the cost of the vessel had been increased by about £50,000, owing to the fact that it had been found necessary to take down the vessel from Chatham to Gillingham in order to complete the fittings. He wished to know whether, when the ship was laid down, the Admiralty were not aware that there were not facilities at Chatham for completing her there?


said, that the establishment of an iron shipbuilding yard at Chatham was decided on from grounds of public policy. It was a snug place far away inland, and the Admiralty knew very well that the approaches were difficult, and that no vessel drawing above a certain depth of water could he alongside. The river now was in process of being deepened, and he trusted that such an occurrence would not take place again, but that where a vessel was laid down there she would be finished. He was sorry the hon. Member for Liverpool should have imputed to him that he had made statements to the House which were not correct. What he stated with respect to the Amazon was exactly what any one who knew her draught of water could confirm. The hon. Gentleman seemed to have minute, if not correct, information, with respect to what they were doing with the Bellerophon. He could not say whether they had or had not lengthened her funnel. But would the hon. Gentleman tell him that private yards did not do the same thing. Lengthening the funnel had nothing to do with the build of a ship, it was a question of fires and of the engine- room. Was it pretended that if a private shipbuilding firm found that there was not a sufficient draught from the engine-room they would not lengthen the funnels of a vessel? Mr. Reed had been anxious to build the Amazon rather larger, but the Admiralty thought it better to construct the vessel of the proposed dimensions, In the case of the vessel which had had a shield fixed round her bow, this course had been adopted in order to put her in a better position for fighting, there being no necessity for placing the guns so as to fire over the decks in a diagonal line as in the Research and Enterprise. He had been taunted for using the term "police of the seas," but as a fact the vessel which had been so much disparaged was fit for such service as was implied in those words, It was true that at first the requisite speed was not attained, but two feet had been added to its length to produce this result In future he trusted that people who had propagated incorrect statements in reference to proceedings in the dockyards, would make due inquiry before talking as they had done.


said, he hoped nothing that had fallen from his lips had led to the inference the noble Lord had drawn. He had not supposed that the noble Lord would come to the House and make statements which were incorrect; he believed every one of his statements. All he had said was that the results were not in accordance with those statements. With regard to the Bellerophon he merely stated facts, and left it to the Committee to draw their own conclusions. In the merchant service, he had never heard of an instance in which for the purpose of a trial trip a funnel was placed upon the ship, and removed immediately after that trial. On the other hand, he believed it was usual to try ships at the measured mile as nearly as possible in the trim in which they would ordinarily go to sea.


said, that, however brave their naval officers might be, they were not competent to design the vessels they had to command. If the turret-vessel were to be submitted to those officers the country would be put to an immense expense, and in all likelihood the experiment would turn out a failure. Instead of themselves designing a form of ship to give a fair trial to Captain Coles' principle, the Admiralty should appoint a body consisting of three or four shipwrights not connected with the Admiralty, and add one or two skilful artizans, and allow the committee so composed to decide upon the form of vessel employed to test Captain Coles' principle. If they declined to do that they would not do justice to Captain Coles, and they would do a gross injustice to the country.


said, he was sorry that his noble Friend had dealt so lightly with the way in which, as had been alleged, the funnels had been placed on a vessel in order to give her artificially increased speed on a trial trip, and thou removed. He was perfectly ashamed of the trick. If it were true, as had been stated, that means were resorted to to give a vessel artificially a speed she could not otherwise have, and if those means were withdrawn afterwards, he (Sir John Pakington) must say that the speed so obtained was a deception, and that any statement to be afterwards made to the House respecting that speed would be a false statement. His noble Friend said he had never heard of it, and he (Sir John Pakington) would put a question to him on a future day to ascertain if such a trick had been resorted to, and he begged his noble Friend would ascertain what was the fact.

Vote agreed to.

(2.) £318,000, Steam Machinery.

(3.) £689.052, Half-pay, &c.

(4.) £125,367, Greenwich Hospital.

House resumed.

Resolutions to be reported To-morrow;

Committee to sit again To-morrow.