HC Deb 04 June 1869 vol 196 cc1236-7

said, he would beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, If he will state to the House his opinion of the ability and fitness, or otherwise, for active Naval Service of the Coast Guard and Naval Reserve Seamen who composed the force recently under his command on board the Reserve Channel Squadron; if he will state in what evolutions the men and ships were exer- cised, and whether such as would arise out of knowledge gained by experiments made and being made in modern Naval warfare; and, if he considers that the present ships of the Reserve Squadron would be of use for active service in the event of Mar, and, if so, what branch?


In reply, Sir, to my hon. Friend I have to say that Admiral Key, who commanded the squadron of Reserve, is about to send in a full Report, with Tables, of the conduct and fitness for service of the Naval Reserve and Coast Guard men who embarked for the recent cruize. When the Admiralty have considered that Report it shall be laid upon the table, with any other Papers on the subject. It will also describe the evolutions and exercises of the squadron. I may, however, say in general terms that we have every reason to be satisfied with the men, as a Reserve, and with their conduct. With reference to the last Question, we are substituting for the old wooden line-of-battle ships, which formerly were used as Coast Guard ships, iron-clads of various typos. Three were so substituted by my right hon. Friend opposite, and four more are now under orders to take the place of four wooden ships, which went with the squadron. T hope that by the end of the year the whole of the Coast Guard fleet will be efficient armoured ships; and we shall thus have at our command within a few hours a squadron of nine iron-clads, to supplement the Channel Squadron.