HC Deb 08 August 1871 vol 208 cc1093-4

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the experiments in 1865 with 250 lb shot against the turrets of the Royal Sovereign were deemed to be conclusive as to the efficiency of revolving turrets under fire; whether there is not information to show that the turrets of several of the American monitors were so injured by the fire of the Confederate batteries as to become unworkable; whether it is not true that both Mr. Reed and Sir Spencer Robinson adopted the system of revolving turrets with reluctance; and, whether any further experiments are in contemplation against revolving turrets, in situ with the heavy ordnance introduced into the Navy since 1865, before the numerous turret ships now building are allowed to be completed?


replied that the efficiency of a turret depended on two considerations—first, that it should not be penetrated by projectiles; and, secondly, that it should be able to revolve under all circumstances. As regards the penetrability of the turrets, he believed the experiments had been satisfactory. These experiments had been continued, and at Shoeburyness lately further experiments were made to test the penetrability of turrets with the newest and the heaviest guns. With regard, however, to the possibility of a turret being in the course of an action jammed by projectiles, it could not be said with certainty that the experiments of 1865 had been conclusive. There was doubtless a possibility that if a projectile struck a turret in action under certain circumstances the turret might be jammed, and this was one of the points which ought to be considered when comparing turret ships with broadside ships. It was true that the turrets of several of the American monitors were so injured by the fire of the Confederate batteries as to become unworkable; but at the present time our turrets were constructed on a different principle. In American ships the turret was placed upon a single spindle, the result being that the strain was very great, and that a comparatively slight shock might cause the turret to be jammed; but in the vessels now being constructed the turrets rested on a broad base and cone rollers, so that the weight was distributed over a great space. It would, therefore, require a concurrence of extraordinary circumstances to jam the turret. The armour-plates, also, had been lowered another foot. If experiments were made it might perhaps be shown that a turret might, under some circumstances, be jammed. That difficulty had been faced, he believed, by the Committee on Designs, and by all who had anything to do with turret ships; but they considered the chance of such a thing occurring to be very slight. There were 99 chances out of 100 that the danger would not arise; while, on the other hand, the advantages possessed by turret ships were very great. It was not intended to make any new experiments, because none could be conclusive without risking the destruction of one of the new turrets. As to the opinions of Mr. Reed and Sir Spencer Robinson, he would rather refer to the published views of those gentlemen than state what they were in answer to a Question.