HC Deb 24 July 1871 vol 208 cc166-7

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether it is the fact that Her Majesty's ship "Ocean," only recommissioned eighteen months ago on the China Station, has been found un-seaworthy, and that the "Iron Duke" is now being fitted out to relieve her; whether Her Majesty's ship "Vestal," from the West India station, although only re commissioned three months ago, and Her Majesty's ship "Enterprize" from the Mediterranean, have not both been, ordered home on account of the amount of repairs they require; and, whether the experiment of recommissioning ships which have been more than three years on a foreign station, by fresh crews sent out from England, has been found satisfactory as regards the efficiency of the ships as well as on the matter of economy?


said, in reply, that the suggestion or inferential allegation that Her Majesty's ship Ocean, recommissioned only 18 months ago, on the China Station, had been found un-seaworthy, was one of those immense exaggerations in which, many persons seemed to delight, to the disparagement of our national resources. She was not unseaworthy, but required repairs, and would have to make a voyage of several thousand miles, from China to England, before those repairs could be undertaken. She had been four and a-half years away, and would have been away five years by the time she reached England again. She was an armour-plated wooden ship, sheathed at the bottom, and it was found that she required resheathing. If there had been a dock deep enough for her on the station it would not have been necessary to send her home. She would be replaced by the Iron Duke, which was a vessel of less draught, which could be docked without coming home. The Enterprize had been ordered home from the Mediterranean in the usual course of things. As regarded the Vestal, re-commissioned three months ago, it was found that her boilers were giving way. A mistake had been made, and it would have to be inquired into by a Court Martial. The general system of re-commissioning ships which had been more than three years on a foreign station by fresh crews sent out from England had been found efficient and economical, but there were some points in it which required to be considered.