LORD HENRY LENNOX
rose to call attention to the case of Her Majesty's 568 Ship Devastation. The noble Lord said, that that morning he had the pleasure of attending a very interesting meeting at the opening of the session of the College of Naval Architects, and there his right hon. Friend the Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) stated that to-night he (Lord Henry Lennox) was to do battle with the right hon. Gentleman opposite in regard to this ship. His right hon. Friend, though right in nine cases out of ten, was wrong on this occasion. He had no intention of doing battle with the right hon. Gentleman. His object was merely to describe the history of the ship up to the present time, and to draw the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to unfavourable rumours which were afloat in regard to her; and no one would rejoice more than he should if the First Lord were able to tell the House and the country of the successful completion of what, when designed, was described as the most perfect type of a ship of war. He had no previous convictions to rescind and no recorded words to explain away about the Devastation, nor did he entertain any feeling amounting to panic as to the danger she would encounter at sea; but he brought the subject under the notice of the House, because in naval circles and among the public out of doors there was a feeling of disquietude respecting this vessel. On every possible opportunity distinguished officers had expressed their disapproval of a ship of this character being sent to sea, relying only on her steam power, and having no masts and sails. It was, however, from no feeling of hostility to the type of vessel, and still less from any fear as to its ultimate success, that he called the attention of the First Lord of the Admiralty to the present condition of the Devastation. He should wish to remind hon. Members who had not deeply considered this subject that the question of mastless ships was by no means a new one. In the course of last autumn some striking letters on the subject had appeared in the leviathan organ of the day from the late Chief Constructor of the Navy (Mr. Reed), in which he stated that as long ago as 1866–7 he had proposed the construction of a gigantic mastless turret ship to the then Conservative Government, and he appeared to think rather hardly of the right hon. Member for Droitwich (Sir John Pakington) for not having carried out his design. That right hon. Gentleman 569 was not now present, otherwise he would have been able to confirm him in stating that the design referred to by the late Chief Constructor had received the most careful attention at the Admiralty, and that the right hon. Gentleman and the majority of the Board had fully recognized in it the type of the fighting ship of the future. The cause of the right hon. Gentleman in refusing to build an experimental ship of that magnitude was justified by the course which had been followed by the right hon. Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers). While acknowledging the merits of mastless ships he declined to make an experiment on such a gigantic scale, and asked the Constructor's Department to prepare a design of a ship of the kind of about 3,000 or 3,500 tons. Afterwards the right hon. Gentleman, convinced that something must be done in that direction, sanctioned the Devastation, which was about 4,400 tons burden. Another reason why the Conservative Administration had not thought fit to enter on such a gigantic experiment was that all new iron-clad ships of war were more or less compromises. Nothing like a perfect fighting machine had then been added to our Navy. Every care had to be taken to preserve the special cruising qualities of our ships, while their "all-round fire" had to a large extent been sacrificed, as was the case even in our two turret ships, the Monarch and the Captain. Meanwhile, while every endeavour was being made to preserve the cruising qualifications of our ironclads, the great artillery authorities had been making such great progress, and the weight of the guns had so largely increased that the constructive Department of the Navy became convinced that the time had come when they must devise some fighting machine with thicker armour and capable of carrying heavier guns. It was evident that the only system that would enable this view to be carried out was the turret system. The Devastation was, consequently, approved by the right hon. Member for Pontefract; but he did not approve of it entirely on his own judgment or on the judgment of its purely professional designer, the Chief Constructor. Sir Sydney Dacres, in contrasting the turret ships the Monarch and the Captain with the Devastation, had stated that the masts of the former vessels would never save their crews in a gale of wind, or enable 570 them to work off a lee shore in the event of their machinery breaking down. The design of the Devastation was submitted to a Committee consisting of the late Captain Coles, Sir Joseph Whitworth, Lord Lauderdale, and another competent gentleman, who came to the conclusion that a heavily plated armoured vessel with a low freeboard was capable of crossing the Atlantic. And this brought him to the point which he desired to impress upon the right hon. Gentleman opposite, as it lay at the bottom of the controversy on the subject which was now going on. The Committee at the Admiralty reported that the low freeboard was the one way of saving weight so as to enable a very heavy armour to be carried with safety; but they did not praise a low freeboard of itself as against a high freeboard in a sea-going vessel. On the contrary, Mr. Reed had stated that if he were to design another Devastation, he should propose to build a vessel of a far larger size in order to enable her to have a higher freeboard than the vessel in question possessed. The right hon. Member for Pontefract had stated that this vessel was not intended to be used solely as a coast defence, but that she was built as a sea-going ship. It appeared to him, under these circumstances, that two points should be clearly kept in view. In the first place, there should be no increase of weight on the ship, so as to increase her immersion below the load line for which she was designed; and, secondly, that if she was to cross the Atlantic, and trust to her steaming powers, under no circumstances ought there to be any decrease of that coal-carrying power which was so vital to her safety, The right hon. Member for Pontefract had told the House on a previous occasion that the coal-carrying capacity of the Devastation would be 1,750 tons, sufficient for steaming for 10 days. That was given by the right hon. Gentleman as the cardinal reason why he recommended this type of ship to be built; and the questions he should conclude by asking the First Lord of the Admiralty were, whether these weights which had been placed on the Devastation since she was designed had necessitated an increased immersion, and a decrease in the amount of coal-carrying power. After this Commission sat at the 571 Admiralty the First Lord approved the ship, and orders were given to proceed with her, and in April, 1869, her weights were calculated. She was to have a mean draught of water of 26 feet 1½ inches; her displacement was 9,062 tons. Her weights were to be:—Armament, shot, shell, and equipment, including warrant stores, 600 tons; engines, stores, and coals, 2,685 tons; her hull and armour turrets, 5,750 tons—making a total of 9,035 tons, with a spare displacement of 27 tons. Gunnery had since made rapid strides, and the Admiralty of that day had decided to change the armament from four 25-ton guns to four 35-ton guns. An extra weight of 250 tons having been added after April, 1869, it was evident that to carry this, other parts of the ship must be lightened, and he was informed that if the designs did not work out as lightly as was -expected, the amount of coal-carrying power must be reduced from 1,600 tons to 1,400 tons. In December, 1870, when the ship was well-advanced, fresh calculations were made, and it was found that the ship worked lighter than was expected. She was again tested, and with the same draught of water, 26 feet 1½ inches, and it was found necessary to lighten her in one or two points, in order to counteract the weight of her armament. When the fresh calculation was resorted to, her displacement was now found to be, not 9,062 tons, but 9,090 tons. She was now to carry in coals 1,600 tons. Her weights were to be:—Armament, shot, equipment, including warrant officers' stores, 766 tons; engines, stores, and coals, 2,596 tons; hull, armour turrets, and a tower, 5,510 tons—making a total of 8,872 tons. This left 218 tons square displacement. In January, 1871, the Committee of Designs was appointed. He objected at the time to that Committee, and since he had seen it in operation that objection was confirmed. One of his reasons was that whereas the First Lord recommended that this new type of ship should be constructed without delay, she was most cruelly delayed, and the Fury was still more delayed. So that the Devastation, having been laid down in 1869, and it being now 1873, she had scarcely yet commenced her trials. The ship and the calulations upon which she was designed were laid before the Committee of Designs, and 572 approved by the chief members of the Council of Construction, and Sir Spencer Robinson then Controller of the Navy. On overhauling the drawings, however, of the Devastation, an increase of freeboard was recommended, which would also add to the accommodation of the officers. The Admiralty approved of the superstructure being carried out. It was said that it was desirable to give increased accommodation to the officers, but that it was not necessary for the safety of the ship. This increased superstructure was calculated to weigh 100 tons, but in effect it weighed 130 tons; and this naturally increased the weights to be carried, leaving only a displacement of 18 tons. Her supposed present state was:—Armament, equipment, &c., 328.7 tons; engine stores, &c., 1,600 tons; coals, 2,683.9 tons; weight of hull, armour, turret, and tower, 6,085.2 tons—making a total of 9,597 tons. This was an increase of 527 tons, with an immersion of over 14½ inches. What had happened to the Devastation since she left the Committee of Designs was the question he wished to put to the right hon. Gentleman. That very day the Naval Architect or Chief Constructor of the Navy had admitted that he had agreed to submerge the bows of the Devastation deeper by 7½ inches than her original design. And if it were true that there was any possible danger of the kind alluded to in the opening speech of the First Lord of the Admiralty the other night, it seemed to him that apart from the great danger of having the vessel so submerged that her armour plate was under the water, the danger, whatever it might be, of being submerged was not relieved by bringing her down 7½ inches. He was far from saying that the information which had reached him with respect to the Devastation was correct; but he was told—he hoped it would not prove to be the fact—that there was a great increase in the weights to be carried by the ship. His argument was, of course, based upon the assumption that the Admiralty had not consented to alter that upon which alone the ship could rely for safety, or could be trusted to carry out the special duty or service for which she was designed, and by reason of which alone she was sanctioned by the House. Her coal-carrying capacity was 1,600 tons 573 when her weights were tested in 1869, in 1870, and when she was considered by the Committee of Design in 1871. He had heard a rumour that her weight was now to amount to 9,597 tons, which would be an increase of 527 tons on the weight before the Committee. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would be able confidently to contradict that rumour, and to state further that the Admiralty had not consented to do that which, in his opinion, they ought not to have contemplated—namely, to reduce the weight-carrying power of the ship. It had been stated—and it was stated at the meeting held that day, and therefore he was not dealing with anonymous rumours—that the Devastation would go to her trial with a mean draught of 26 feet 5 inches, and that her coal-carrying capacity would be reduced 300 tons below the amount for which she was sanctioned. If that were the case, while he did not wish to blame anyone who had been the means of bringing about such a state of things, he could not but think, with a painful example of what a dreadful disaster might occur through shortness of coal-carrying power, that a great blow had been struck at her design, and that her power and usefulness would be greatly lessened. In 1869 the right hon. Gentleman the Member for Pontefract (Mr. Childers) said that the steaming power of the Devastation would be as follows:—10 days' steaming at 12 knots, 18 days' steaming at 10 knots, and 25 to 35 days, at a low rate of speed. But with only 1,300 tons of coal this would become 7½ days' steaming at 12 knots, 14½ days, at 10 knots, and 18 to 24 days, at a low rate of speed. He hoped the right hon. Gentleman would give him credit for bringing this question forward with no spirit of hostility to himself, the Constructive Department of the Admiralty, or the designer of the ship. His object was simply to elicit from the right hon. Gentleman a statement as to whether the rumours to which he had referred were facts or fictions. Certain alterations had, as was stated at the meeting that day, been made in the original design of the ship, such as the bringing of her head down by 7½ inches. If, however, the right hon. Gentleman was in a position to say that such was not the case, and that the ship was able to carry 1,600 tons of coal, he, for one, should heartily congratulate him and the naval service 574 of the country. He should do more. Although he did not consider himself very specially endowed with physical power, or an excess of bravery, he should ask the right hon. Gentleman to use his good offices with his gallant friend Captain Hewett, to allow him to join the Controller of the Navy on the trial trip of the Devastation. The right hon. Gentleman stated the other night that the ship would make a very valuable addition to our Navy. No doubt she would, because she was most powerfully armoured and carried the heaviest guns afloat. But she would also be an unnecessarily costly addition to the Navy. The remark of the right hon. Gentleman would have applied as well to the Hotspur, the Glatton, or any of the new gunboats. He hoped to hear from the right hon. Gentleman whether the Devastation was capable of performing the special service for which she was designed, and for which alone she was sanctioned by the House; what her present weight and coal-carrying power were; whether she could cross the Atlantic or proceed to the Cape of Good Hope—in short, whether she could carry our war flag over distant seas. If he were assured that she could, he should be extremely pleased, and feel that he had performed a public duty in allaying popular alarm and satisfying the country as to the merits of Her Majesty's ship Devastation.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
observed that the First Lord of the Admiralty had, on the first night the Navy Estimates were discussed, promised the Committee that they should have ample opportunity of discussing the naval policy of the country. On that occasion the right hon. Gentleman made a long statement, and one which showed an amount of memory and knowledge acquired during a very short time which was very creditable to him, but as a sailor that exposition carried no conviction to his (Sir James Elphinstone's) mind. It was a long and weary apology for the shortcomings of Her Majesty's Government—a statement made for the purpose of returning entirely to the status quo, but beyond that it developed no naval policy, and left no impression on his mind that the Government had any naval policy to propound. They had agreed to two Votes—one for the wages and the other for the victualling of the seamen of the Fleet, 575 and he regretted that the subjects discussed were passed over with such very slight notice as they had received. The right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) said that he was going to reduce the personnel of the Navy by 500 boys; but he made no allusion to the great questions affecting the position of our seamen. They had in the naval service a body of men who had never been excelled in point of character or efficiency during the whole period of the naval supremacy of this country; but there was one fact in reference to the men which deserved more than a passing allusion—he referred to the prevalence of crime in the Navy. He found that out of the number of men borne on the books of the Navy no fewer than 1,700 men had been subjected to penal punishment, principally arising from leave-breaking. The offence of leave-breaking arose from causes which might be easily remedied if our ships were made more the homes of the men than they were at present. Very frequently during the 16 years he had sat in that House he had urged on the Government the necessity of establishing naval barracks; but he nevertheless found that the crew of the Devastation were at this moment quartered in a hulk, while the Marines of the Fleet were lodged in most magnificent barracks. How could they expect properly to maintain discipline in the Navy if the men were subjected to the privations and degradation of living in a miserable manner on board a hulk? The question of naval barracks had for some time been under the serious consideration of the Commander in Chief of the Navy and some of the best officers of the service, as well as the establishment of canteens on board Her Majesty's ships on Home stations and in harbours. It had also been recommended that receiving ships for men under penal discipline should be established as a better means of reclaiming them from the bad habits they had contracted, and at the same time continuing them under naval discipline The system of canteens in Her Majesty's ships on the Home stations and in harbour might be easily adopted, and under it the men would be enabled to procure those small luxuries and comforts which would endear their ships to them, and make them consider them homes instead of prisons. He might mention how this subject of canteens 576 had been dealt with in particular instances, and with what result. In the Coastguard ship at Liverpool the amount of crime for leave-breaking had been very considerable. The captain, one of the most judicious officers in the service, established a system on board by which his men were permitted to have a canteen placed in charge of the petty officers, and under the control of the captain. The men were allowed to have a pint of beer a-piece in the course of every evening, and the consequence was, that when they found they could obtain the comfort which any common labourer could procure in the public-house, leave-breaking came entirely to an end. Moreover, the small profit that resulted from the sale of the articles consumed had been devoted to charitable purposes. The widow of a drowned shipmate had been relieved therefrom, and other acts of charity had been dispensed from a fund that was under the control and direction of the men. The saving of provisions realized a profit to the Government of £28,000, but it was nowhere to be found in the Navy Estimates. This involved a matter of great importance to the well-being of the Navy and the health of the men.
§ MR. SAMUDA
rose to Order, and asked the Speaker whether this subject could be discussed on the Motion before the House.
§ MR. SPEAKER
The Question before the House is that I do now leave Chair in order that the House may go into Committee of Supply. The hon. and gallant Member is within his right in making the observations which he has just been submitting to the House.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, there was another point to which he wished to refer, and that was the irregularity of the meals. In 1859 he served on the Naval Commission, and brought before it, as strongly as he could, the fact that the diet of their seamen was such as they would not subject any man or beast in their possession to; and he carried the views of the Commissioners with him. A man to be in a proper condition for work ought to be fed every five hours. At present they had a breakfast at 8 o'clock, consisting of cocoa and biscuits; dinner, with meat, at 12; cocoa and biscuit again at 5 o'clock p.m.; and from that hour till 8 o'clock next morning no food entered the mouth of the 577 British seaman. When he was in the service the men always got a good supper. This was a matter which ought to enter into the arrangements of the Admiralty. They had established a University at Greenwich which was not likely to fare much better in the long run than the proposed University at Dublin. In appropriating the funds of Greenwich Hospital the rights and interests of those to whom the funds of the charity ought to have been devoted had been overlooked.
§ MR. SPEAKER
said, the remarks now made by the hon. and gallant Baronet would be more in Order if he reserved them until the occasion when the Vote connected with Greenwich Hospital was about to be considered in Committee.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
observed that an engagement had been entered into by the First Lord of the Admiralty that on the second Vote general questions connected with the naval policy of the country might be discussed, and if hon. Members were not able to do so on the present occasion it would be impossible to discuss that policy.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, the understanding was that in Committee on the second Vote a general discussion should be taken, and he thought it would be more convenient to enter into the matter to which his hon. and gallant Friend was referring when that Vote came before the Committee.
§ SIR JAMES ELPHINSTONE
said, he should confine his remarks to the Devastation. He submitted that she was totally incapable of a sea voyage. He came to this conclusion after a personal inspection of her, and was confirmed in it by the opinion of competent men. She might be useful as an addition to the Navy for harbour defence, but she ought never to go beyond the limits of any harbour, and if she did so he should not like to be responsible for the result. This was one of the most audacious experiments in hydro-dynamics which had ever been attempted. The stern being open she would be quite helpless in the trough of the sea, and nothing short of a miracle would save her from overwhelming. He would defer any further observations which he had to make until the time when the understanding which had been referred to could be carried out.
§ MR. SAMUDA
observed that the question before the House was not one involving the goodness of the Devastation herself. The complaint was as to the changes which had been made in the original design. It appeared to him that these had all gone in increasing the seaworthy qualities of the ship. When the vessel was originally proposed she appeared to him to be likely to possess the qualities which he had been seeking to obtain, and to induce the Admiralty to adopt. But it also appeared to him that there were certain deficiencies, which he took the liberty of pointing out. He supported the proposal to build the Devastation because he believed it was a step in the right direction so far as regarded the carrying of the armament. He knew the additional buoyancy she would need could be added, and it was added; so that the disquiet in the public mind resulting from the loss of the Captain was removed. Still he could not regard the Devastation as the ship of the future. Every step that had been taken by the Admiralty in this matter had been in the right direction, and he only regretted that they had not thought fit to go further, for he considered that a great error had been committed in not dealing with the stern of the vessel in the same way as they had treated the bows, and in not continuing the superstructure right fore and aft. Speaking from his own experience, and on a matter of every-day observation, he must say that he did not think that there was the slightest ground of apprehension as to her buoyancy even under the most adverse circumstances; and he regarded the apprehensions of the hon. and gallant Baronet opposite (Sir James Elphinstone), with reference to that vessel as being without foundation.
§ MR. G, BENTINCK
said, that the hon. Member who had just sat down had stated that the building of the Devastation was a step in the right direction, but he wanted to know what the right direction was, and for what purpose this vessel had been built. Everyone must admit that the Devastation could not be regarded as a sea-going ship. Without going into all the reasons which showed that she could not be regarded as a seagoing ship, and without alleging that she could not live in bad weather, he maintained that she could not be employed as an ordinary sea-going cruiser. On the 579 other hand, if she was to be employed for home defence, much more useful vessels, drawing far less water, might have been built for half her cost. He trusted that as the Devastation was unfit for a seagoing cruiser, and on account of her draught of water was equally unfit for home defence, the House would hear from the First Lord of the Admiralty that he did not intend to persevere in building experimental ships of this character. He was not in the habit of charging the Admiralty with extravagance—if was his fate, on the contrary, to blame them generally for mistaken parsimony—but he could not help characterizing the building of this vessel, which was useless for foreign service or home defence, as a wasteful expenditure of public money.
said, that argument of the hon. Member opposite would condemn not only the Devastation but also all the iron-dads which they at present possessed.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
said, he condemned all those of our iron-dads which could not be handled under canvas.
said, that none of our iron-dads could be handled under canvas with the same freedom as our wooden vessels were, and, in fact, it could scarcely be said of any of them that they were navigable under canvas. He entirely agreed with the hon. Member that the Devastation could not be regarded as a sea-going cruiser, because she would require to burn coals all the time she was at sea, which would render it impossible for her to cruise for any length of time without going into port to re-coal. As he understood the design of the Devastation when it was proposed, she was intended to cross the Atlantic if necessary, and, having fought a battle, to return to this country or to some other port, where she could re-coal, but she was not intended to keep the sea as a cruiser. In his opinion she would prove an efficient ship, and capable of realizing the objects for which she was constructed. He hoped that the time would come when we could revert to our unarmoured ships, but until then he thought the Admiralty were wise in building ships of this character.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said he was much obliged to his hon. and gallant Friend behind him (Admiral Egerton) for the few words he had just uttered in regard 580 to the Devastation. The hon. Member for West Norfolk (Mr. Bentinck) was rather in the habit of thinking that all naval opinion was on his side, and that the Admiralty was proceeding in the face of all naval authority. Now, speaking on behalf of the Board of Admiralty, he (Mr. Goschen) would inform him that he was surrounded by naval officers of the highest ability and experience, whose advice he felt bound to take on those matters. He was fortified by those opinions in saying he believed that the Devastation would answer all the expectations respecting her. No ship had ever been submitted to a more searching investigation than the Devastation. When, then, the hon. Gentleman said that she would never answer as a seagoing ship, he could tell him that his opinion was completely opposed to the opinions of the most eminent naval officers who had been consulted by the Admiralty. He was glad, therefore, that his hon. and gallant Friend (Admiral Egerton) had protested against the use of such language. The other day the hon Member for West Norfolk asked whether the Admiralty had ever considered the power of guns in piercing armour-plates. Why, from day to day they thought of hardly anything else. The hon. Member constantly taunted the Admiralty with a want of knowledge of such subjects as this; but he (Mr. Goschen) was bound to say in all courtesy that the hon. Gentleman was wholly ignorant of the way in which those questions were treated by the Naval Department of the Government. The hon. Member asked with what intention this ship had been designed. It was a fair question, and he knew no better mode of answering it than by reading a paper from the pen of Sir Spencer Robinson, which was in the hands of Members—The first object to be aimed at in a ship of war is the power of destroying the enemy. Modern naval warfare shows that there are two distinct powers of destruction in fleets or ships, the power of artillery and the power of impact; the latter abundantly difficult to use, but fearfully efficacious; the former easier to handle, but not so instantaneous in its effects. For neither of these purposes is excessive speed continued for many days a first or necessary condition; on the contrary, high speed continued for several days necessitates the use of forms and the appropriation of weights which, in the first case, are unfavourable to manœuvring; and, in the second case, limit the power of artillery; the former rendering almost unavailable the tremendous 581 power lodged in the ship herself, and developed by impact, the latter giving at once in battle the superiority to the more heavily-armed ship. No great naval battle will be fought at very high speeds. Two fleets meeting each other, however anxious both sides may be to fight it out, will find it necessary to keep together and manœuvre with precision; this will not be done at extreme speeds. The great maritime Powers with whom alone we should enter on a contest for life and death would be Prance and Russia. A war with America would be of so different a nature that the Navy required for for that purpose is altogether a thing apart; but if we have to contend for great national purposes with either France or Russia the contest must be in European waters; the Channel, the Mediteranean, or the Baltic will be the scenes of strifes fearful to contemplate. It is for us of vital importance to come triumphant out of such a contest. We shall neither need extreme speed, nor the power of steaming for many days in succession at a high rate, to insure a victory. What we shall want, above all things, is the means of carrying and defending a formidable artillery, combined with the greatest facility in making use of the power of impact. To these two requirements all others must be subordinate; in their perfection they will hardly be found in the same ship, but whether these two destructive forces are in one and the same ship or not, a large amount of defence is necessary to enable any use at all to be made of either offensive power. English ships' sides must be difficult to penetrate; engines and boilers must be protected from the explosion of shells; magazines must have some security, if in an artillery combat with France or Russia we are to contend at least on equal terms. If their ships Barry heavy armour, so must ours, and that position is, I conceive, irrefutable, though we may admit that no perfect protection against even the guns carried at sea can, in all cases, be had. And if that position is true as to an artillery fight, it is even more true of the other great means by which naval actions will be decided, namely, the impact of one ship against another. The ship that intends to give that deadly blow must be so defended by shot-resisting sides and decks, as to bear with comparative impunity much pounding from heavy guns before she finds an opportunity of delivering her fatal and final thrust. Heavy guns (and the Devastation is armed with 35-ton guns), thick armour (her armour is 12-inches thick), great handiness (and the Devastation can turn with the greatest ease)—are the first qualities for ships that have to fight in fleets. When those are secured, add the greatest speed that can be obtained, coal enough to provide for the necessities of warfare in the Channel, Mediterranean, or Baltic, such sea-going qualities as will enable operations in these seas to be performed with safety, good arrangements for officers and men, and as little sail power as is consistent with the use to be made of a fleet in time of peace. This, in my opinion, is the kind of fleet without which England could not hope to fight a naval action with success, without which a maritime war with a Great Power would be our destruction; and it this fleet whose numbers, I think, it is our bounden duty to complete, before undertaking vessels of another type, valuable as they may be, or desirable as it may be to have 582 them as soon as our more imperious wants are satisfied.
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he would read on—I therefore urge as strongly as I can that the type of ship necessary for fleet fighting be taken up as the one most required; that our new constructions may be of the nature of the Glatton or Hotspur.[Lord HENRY LENNOX: Hear, hear!] And this was the paper on which Sir Spencer Robinson recommended the building of the Devastation. Did the noble Lord dispute that proposition?
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, he could not dispute it, not having the paper before him; but his impression was that the paper referred to masted and rigged ships; otherwise, why the reference to "as little sail power as" possible?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, that nevertheless the noble Lord cried "Hear, hear" when he mentioned the Glatton and the Hotspur, which had neither. He had read this extract to show that the Devastation was meant for fleet fighting—to fight the great naval battles of the future. Such a ship must have sufficient coal-carrying and sea-going qualities to fight in the Baltic, the Mediterranean, the North Sea, and the Channel; and, though this was not stated in the Minute, she must also be able to cross the Atlantic in safety, and fight an action on that side of the water if necessary. He said distinctly that if the sea-going qualities of the Devastation should turn out a failure, the Devastation herself would be a failure; and he acknowledged that if she were simply a ship for coast defence, we could build cheaper ships, and ships better adapted to that purpose. It was, however, as sea-going fighting ships that the Admiralty attached importance to vessels of the Devastation type; they were not to prey upon the enemy's commerce, because ships of another type would be used for that purpose; they were to cope at sea with the fighting ships of other Powers. He would now address himself to the speech of the noble Lord the Member for Chichestor—a speech of great moderation, and which put the case very plainly. He was glad the noble Lord did not introduce the question of personal 583 responsibility, upon which so much had been said. The original designers were relieved from responsibility on account of the changes which had been made in the ship; but, as had been stated elsewhere, the responsibility rested with those who sent the ship to sea, and with the naval architects who advised that she was a ship which might be sent to sea. He was glad to think that these personal discussions might now be looked upon as ended. His right hon. Friend (Mr. Childers) was subjected to much attack in his absence, having no opportunity of replying, but they might now assume that such charges would not be repeated. The noble Lord fairly said that the main point raised by the changes in the Devastation was her coal-carrying power; and he asked whether the ship would be further immersed, and would carry less coal than she was designed to carry. As the final calculations were not yet made, he could not tell to within 50 or 100 tons how the weights would turn out; but before the Committee of Designs sat certain increases had already been made in the weight of the ship. Her armaments had been raised from four 25-ton to four 35-ton guns, increasing her weight by 157 tons. There was also an increase of 155 tons through the thickening of the armour deck; the little iron mast that was added weighed 20 tons; the conning tower was added, weighing 97 tons; and the engine would weigh 35 tons more than was expected, though this was a matter over which the Admiralty had no control. The Committee of Designs recommended some further changes. The design for the superstructure was placed before them in January, 1871, and this added 133 tons to the weight. The Committee recommended an important addition—bulkheads of thick armour to protect the "vitals" of the ship from a raking fire fore and aft; and the naval and scientific men upon the Committee stated that the fighting efficiency of the ship would be enormously increased by such a protection. These bulkheads represented a further addition of 134 tons. It was resolved further to subdivide the compartments at the bow, in order to give additional buoyancy in case that part of the ship were struck, and the additional iron plating there increased the weight by 13 tons. The thickening of the deck-plates was to protect the 584 magazines and the ship generally from the explosion of shells. Her fighting powers had accordingly been greatly increased, and the noble Lord asked at what sacrifice had those fighting powers been increased? The noble Lord asked, in the first place, whether they had been increased at the expense of the sea-going qualities of the ship. Now, her sea-going qualities had not been sacrificed, but had been improved. He wished to lay particular stress on that point. If those additional weights had been put into the ship without any difference in her form, they would have raised the centre of gravity; but while the centre of gravity had been raised by those additional weights, the superstructure had had a counterbalancing and more than counter-balancing influence in increasing the range of stability of the ship; and the consequence had been that notwithstanding that increased weight, the angle of stability had been increased from 44, at which it stood in the original design, to 56. It had been stated that night that the Committee of Designs were satisfied with 43; but in their last Report they said they would prefer 50, and 56 had been given in the case of the Devastation. The noble Lord next alluded to what he called the surplus of displacement; but the noble Lord used that term in one sense, and the hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets (Mr. Samuda) used it in another. The noble Lord, in speaking of the surplus of displacement, meant simply whether she would float lower than her designed line of draught or not. The hon. Member for the Tower Hamlets spoke of it as displacement above water. [Mr. SAMUDA: I meant surplus buoyancy.] He wished rather for the sake of the public to correct the noble Lord, and to point out what the surplus of displacement really was. By the various changes that had been made additional weights had been put into the ship, which could not be calculated to a ton, but they ranged between 400 and 500 tons. That was the additional weight after increasing her stability, increasing the comfort of the men, and, above all, increasing her fighting qualities. How were they to deal with that extra 400 or 500 tons? Was the ship to be immersed so much more, or was her coal supply to be reduced, or was she to be partly immersed some few inches more, and partly to have her supply of coal reduced? 585 Now, one most gratifying circumstance had come to their aid in that respect, because at the same time that they had increased the fighting powers of the ship they had been able to reduce her coal-carrying capacity without diminishing materially the distance she could go; and for this reason. Fortunately, the machinery, the engines, and boilers of the ship had turned out to be so successful that with 1,400 tons of coal on board they could steam a longer distance than they could have done with the 1,600 tons which they originally estimated. Therefore 200 tons could be removed without in the least interfering with the distance which she could proceed. Mr. Reed made a calculation which was submitted to Lord Lauderdale's Committee. He showed that with 1,600 tons of coal on board, the Devastation could steam 5,600 miles at six knots speed, 4,320 miles at ten knots, and 2,880 miles at 12 knots. The results of the latest trials showed that they could steam with 1,400 tons of coal 6,650 miles at six knots, 4,580 miles at 10 knots, and 2,890 miles at 12 knots. So that the Devastation, with 200 tons less coal-carrying capacity—if they decided in that direction—could go a longer distance than she had been estimated to go, and those 200 tons could be removed from the ship. But, further, her coal might be reduced to 1,200 tons, and she could still steam 5,700 miles at six knots, or 100 knots more than she was estimated to go with 1,600 tons. They had secured greater stability, greater safety for the men, and infinitely better protection against fore and aft raking fire. They had carried out further improvements in the ship, thickened the armour decks, and they were also able to go a greater distance with a smaller quantity of coal than she was estimated to go with a larger quantity. He would point out that supposing the ship was immersed six inches more, 200 tons would represent about that amount of additional immersion. Moreover, those 200 tons of coal would be consumed in the very first days of the Devastation proceeding to sea; and it should never be forgotten that the deeper immersion would occur only during the first days of proceeding to sea. His case, therefore, in reply to the noble Lord was very simple. They had secured additional fighting power for the ship, they had in consequence increased the weights; but 586 they were able to relieve those weights by diminishing the supply of coal which she would carry, and that without reducing the distance she could go. But, more than that, the constructors believed that it would be no damage to the ship if she was immersed those few additional inches. They would make trials at various draught lines, they would see at what draught line she was safest, and regulate her accordingly. The constructors believed that, besides those improvements in the ship, they would have the advantage of greater engine power, and that she would be able to carry from 1,500 to 1,600 tons of coal without at all imperilling her. It ought to be understood, both in the House and out of doors, that it was not a question of safety, but of the amount of coal which the Devastation could carry. He could not conclude better than by again quoting the words of Sir Spencer Robinson, who said—Extend, therefore, the turret and the ram system as much as possible on moderate dimensions, make such vessels truly formidable fighting ships, sacrificing to some extent the showy and attractive qualities of excessive speed and large coal power for superior fighting powers.The Admiralty did not think that they had sacrificed the fighting power, because the Devastation would have such powers of fighting as no ship had had before.
§ SIR JOHN HAY
said, there were two questions which fairly came within the purview of that debate, namely, whether the Devastation now produced was the Devastation that was designed; and whether the Devastation was a type of ship which it was desirable to reproduce. He had concurred with his lamented friend (Mr. Corry) in thinking the expenditure upon the Devastation was not justified; that for coast defence the ship was too large and drew too much water; while for sea-going purposes a ship of that character was not what the country required. Having, however, been built, it was very desirable to ascertain whether she was such a vessel as the designer had intended. As to her coal-carrying capacity, he thought the right hon. Gentleman (Mr. Goschen) had not satisfied the House that the ship was what she was intended to be. The right hon. Gentleman had given them evidence that she would be considerably beyond her draught, that draught being excessive 587 as it was, if the whole of the coal was put in her. What the right hon. Gentleman had stated about the power of her engines might be very creditable to her engine-makers; but it would not convince those who had considered the question that the result of the changes made in her had not altered that which she was originally designed to be. No doubt in building an ironclad ship everything must be in the nature of a compromise; it was impossible to have an ironclad ship perfect in every particular; something must be sacrificed to obtain benefit in another direction. But a seagoing man-of-war ought to have two qualities; she should be seaworthy, and she should also be able to keep the sea. These two things were different. Seaworthiness depended upon an adequate proportion and just distribution of the weight, and also upon good workmanship and material, which last were always obtained, whether in the dockyards or private yards. To keep the sea required sufficient and healthy accommodation for the crew, inexhaustible means of conducting the ship, which pointed to sails, and sufficient space for armament and accessories. He thought that the Devastation and her sister ships were not complete in these particulars, and he objected to further expenditure upon this kind of ship until full experiment had been made. Another qualification necessary was great speed with handiness, enabling a ship to choose the time for attack, to chase and overtake the enemy, and to escape from a superior force. As the supreme effort would be made under steam, there must be some sacrifice of sail for the sake of the greatest velocity under steam. The draught should also be as light as possible consistent with other qualifications, and though the Devastation had been spoken of for service in the Baltic, a vessel of her draught could not approach any of the great Russian fortifications. The draught of the Suez Canal should be considered, for to a maritime country which might be engaged in hostilities in the East or in the West, it was important to avoid the circuit of Africa. Other places where men-of-war might have to act were nearly identical, such as the River St. Lawrence. As to armour, a sea-going and seaworthy ship could only be protected in certain places, for though 10 years ago it could be 588 entirely clothed above the water line with armour sufficient to resist the artillery then existing, the rough rule being an inch additional armour for every 1,000 tons, ironplate had now to be as thick as the diameter of the gun fired against it. There being guns 16 inches in diameter, 16 inch plates were necessary to resist them, but nobody would think of building a 16,000 ton vessel with 16 inch plates. Moreover, the ram and torpedo were more dangerous than shot and shell, and it was impossible to clothe a vessel below water with armour sufficient to resist these. It must, therefore, be considered what parts should be protected. He had had the honour of knowing Admiral Tegethoff, the distinguished commander who had fought the only great battle in which ramming and turret ships had taken part, and he justified the the unfortunate position of his antagonist Admiral Persano's low free-board turret ship by saying it was so unmanageable in the sea then on that its Admiral could not take the part he was anxious for. Admiral Tegethoff had a wooden ship slightly protected with armour, and it sank a vessel with 600 or 700 hands by striking it amidships with its ram. The greatest damage was sustained by vessels with armour just thick enough to detain the shells, causing explosions in places where they should not have happened. The result of that action ought to teach us that there was no advantage in having unmasted, unseaworthy turret ships, especially now that we could not coat the whole of the ship with armour. The magazine ought first to be protected, then the motive power, then, as far as possible, the steering apparatus, then the machinery of the gun, and lastly, the bottom of the ship must be protected from the ram and the torpedo by cellular construction, or by some other contrivance. He thought that they must give up attempting to protect the men at the guns, and that they had much better let the shot go through those parts of the ship that were not essential. It was because the Devastation had very few of the necessary qualities that he had opposed its construction, and he should object to any further expenditure on such vessels until the Thunderer and the Devastation had proved better than he expected. As to coal-carrying capacity, the latitude and longitude in which a vessel might be 589 required could not be fixed. When the Devastation had consumed half of her coal she would have to come back for a supply of coal. Therefore, only half of her power could be used for offensive purposes; the other half would be required to bring her back. Nothing could be more annoying to a naval officer who went to sea with such a ship, than to find that instead of proceeding to fight the enemy he must go back for more coal. For this reason, all men-of-war must be in the nature of a compromise, but the compromise by which sails were sacrificed entirely was a mistaken one. To make vessels drawing so large an amount of water dependent upon one motive power was bad policy, and, holding that opinion, he should oppose any increase in the number of these ships.
§ MR. G. BENTINCK
said the First Lord of the Admiralty was mistaken in supposing that he had asked whether the right hon. Gentleman had considered the question of ships and guns. He had referred to armour plate versus guns.
LORD HENRY LENNOX
said, that the right hon. Gentleman took him up rather sharply because he cheered when the Hotspur and the Glatton were mentioned. The explanation of his cheer was this—the Hotspur and the Glatton were intended for the Mediterranean; whereas the Devastation was intended for the Atlantic, the West Indies, and the Cape of Good Hope. He wished to know if the Devastation was to carry 1,400 and not 1,600 tons of coal, what the draught would be at 1,400 tons of coal?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he had already informed the noble Lord that the Admiralty had not got the final calculations. He had stated that, with 1,400 tons of coals, she could go further than if she carried 1,600 tons of coals, and that she would be tried under various conditions, and her supply of coal would be limited accordingly.
§ LORD HENRY SCOTT,
who had given Notice that he would call attention to the Report of the Committee of Designs on Ships of War, asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he should bring forward that subject now or defer it till the Dockyard Vote came before the Committee of Supply?
§ MR. GOSCHEN
said, he thought it would be far better to postpone the subject until the Dockyard Vote came on.
§ Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.590
§ Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.