HC Deb 24 July 1873 vol 217 cc908-9

said, that as all the Navy Estimates in regard to ship-building had been already passed, he wished to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he would redeem the pledge he gave some weeks ago by stating what type of Iron-clad it was intended to lay down this year? He would further appeal to the right hon. Gentleman to couple with that statement an assurance that he should have in a formal Return the specifications as to the dimensions of the ship and the weights she would carry.


Sir, with regard to the latter portion of the noble Lord's Question, I am more or less in the hands of the House; but I venture to submit to the noble Lord that it is not desirable that at the earliest stage of constructing a ship, notice should be given to all the world as to her exact dimensions and specifications. I will, however, make a general statement to the House. Ships are being designed and constructed for other navies to carry guns and armour exceeding in power and thickness anything which has been hitherto adopted, and it is necessary that this ship, which will take from three to four years to construct, should, when completed, be more than a match for any other ship in the world. The ship we propose to build at Portsmouth, to be named the Inflexible, carries out the views of the Committee on Designs for Ships of War. The system is an extension of that adopted in the Warrior, of having a central armoured citadel and under-water shot-proof decks. The requisite reserve of buoyancy in the event of the unprotected ends being penetrated to any extent is secured by the central armoured citadel. The area of the armour is diminished and its thickness increased in a corresponding degree. It is not advisable to give the figured dimensions of this ship in all their details; but I can state that the armour is thicker than has been contemplated for any ship or fort; that the guns with which this vessel is to be armed will be the most powerful that can be designed and manufactured; and that low freeboard and no sails are not essential features of the design. The ship will have a freeboard of 20 feet forward, and be able to set trysails if required in heavy weather, or in the improbable event of her four sets of engines being disabled. The dimensions, except the beam, which is much greater, are the same as the Fury, with 3 feet less draught of water. The coal endurance is the same; and the ship, with a full speed of 14, will steam 3,000 knots, at 10 knots speed. The estimated cost is the same as the Fury. The Controller of the Navy, with the Director of Naval Ordnance, and the Chief Naval Architect, who has prepared the design, concur in recommending it to the Board of Admiralty, who, after very careful consideration, are unanimous in their approval.