HC Deb 24 February 1870 vol 199 cc770-1

said, that on the day before the opening of the Suez Canal two of the English ironclad squadron run upon a shoal, the existence of which was not marked in the charts supplied to them by the authorities of the port of Said, but which was marked upon charts in the possession of the French officials. It was stated, with the appearance of confidence, that the British Government had been informed of the existence of that shoal. He wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he can give any explanation of the circumstances under which two of Her Majesty's Ships of War ran aground off the Egyptian coast previous to the opening of the Suez Canal?


Sir, the line of coast from which the piers of Port Said run out was closely surveyed by Commander Mansell, in Her Majesty's ship Tartarus, in 1856, and the soundings were found to be very regular, and gradually shoaling to the shore. The Royal Oak and Prince Consort were, on the 16th of November, navigating by the chart resulting from this survey when they grounded on a mud bank one and a half miles to E.N.E. of the pier heads. This bank of soft mud, which has as little as twelve feet on it, with five fathoms a cable's length off on the outer part, has been formed from the deposition of soil dredged from the Canal, and at the time of the ships' grounding appears not to have been marked by a buoy, nor had any notice been received of its existence from the Egyptian authorities. A plan is now published, and a leading mark given for clearing it. Admiral Sir Alexander Milne was informed on the 13th of December that no blame attached to the officers of the ships on account of this accident.