HC Deb 10 August 1871 vol 208 cc1315-6

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the "Glatton," the "Thunderer," and the "Devastation" were allowed to be built without the Board requiring the official designer, previous to the commencement of the construction of these vessels, to send in bonâ fide specifications, plans, drawings, and written descriptions of the design in all its essential parts; or whether the Admiralty have permitted that the designs in accordance with which these national works were undertaken should be confined to the breast of the designer alone, so that in the event either of his death or retirement the Department must remain ignorant of the essential points of the construction of such vessels, and the most important element of safety might be withheld?


Sir, as a question might arise as to what are the essential parts of such vessels, I prefer to answer the Question precisely as regards the time when Mr. Reed left office rather than as regards the time when the construction of the ships was commenced. In the case of the Thunderer and Devastation, the building, drawings, and detailed specifications of the hull and the drawings of internal arrangements were in the hands of the officers at Pembroke and Portsmouth, and formal contracts had been entered into for the engines in accordance with approved designs, before the end of the year 1869. An addi- tional drawing, showing a single iron mast, was subsequently prepared by Mr. Reed's directions, and sent to the dockyards for guidance before Mr. Reed left office. These drawings would have been sufficient to complete the ship in all essential particulars. After he left, his former colleagues, who were concerned as well as himself in the preparation of the original designs, proposed to add some upper works amidships, by the addition of which the stability of the ships at large angles has been doubled in amount. In the case of the Glatton, the drawings showing the final arrangements of the upper works as she has been fitted were approved by Mr. Reed in February, 1870, all the other works having been previously specified by him.