HC Deb 17 July 1873 vol 217 cc501-2

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether, looking to the recent serious casualty to the "Northumberland," and disasters to other of Her Majesty's ships from default of Navy ground-tackle, and to the manifest importance of providing the best and most trustworthy anchor for use in the Royal Navy, he will state what practical objection exists, if any, to carrying out the proposal indicated in Mr. Trotman's Letter to him of the 13th January (vide Return No. 275, 1873), and of determining, by unerring tests and actual proof, the relative powers, the instantaneous grip or biting properties possessed by a light Trotman anchor comparatively with the more cumbersome and costly established Navy anchor of double its weight?


Sir, the late casualty to the Northumberland was not caused by any fault of the Admiralty anchor. The anchor did not fail; it held properly and efficiently; but it was the cable which failed, and parted under very exceptional circumstances. When the second anchor was let go there was no reason whatever to say that it dragged from its position, but, in veering cable, the Northumberland fouled the Hercules, and so efficient was the anchor of the Hercules that both ships were held by that one anchor and cable. Therefore, the casualty to the Northumberland was not caused from default of the anchors and no disasters have occurred to other ships from the same cause. The Officers of the Navy do not generally consider that Trotman's is a better or more trust-worthy anchor than the anchor generally in use; it was supplied to the Warrior at Mr. Trotman's request, and after it had been in use for two years, Captain—now Admiral—Cochrane reported that the anchor could not be depended upon for biting and holding when first let go —the same defect that had been so often reported in Porter's anchor, and which Mr. Trotman professes to have remedied. There can be no better test or proof of the relative powers of anchors than practical trial on board ship in actual service; these have been made, and prove that Trotman's anchor cannot be always depended upon for instantaneous grip or biting properties. Naval Officers have not that confidence in Trotman's anchor for a man-of-war which is possessed by many in this House; and I am bound in cases of this kind to be guided by the knowledge and experience of my naval friends.