HC Deb 02 July 1875 vol 225 cc871-2

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether he has received any report as to the present state of Her Majesty's ship "Devastation" in respect to ventilation, and, whether he can give any information to the House as to the health of the crew?


Sir, since the right hon. Gentleman put this Question on the Paper I have received a special report as to the ventilation of the Devastation and as to the health of her crew. It is more recent than the Report an extract from which appeared some time ago. I hold in my hand a letter from Captain Richards, of the Devastation, forwarded by the Commander-in-Chief on the station, and as the matter has attracted a good deal of attention perhaps I may be allowed to give a rather long extract. It is dated Ragusa, June 17, 1875, and states that— As a matter of fact, the ventilation of the Devastation in harbour, or in ordinary weather at sea, is much the same as that of any other vessel, and it has not really been necessary for any consecutive 12 hours during the two and a-half years of the ship's commission to stop the natural circulation by closing the hatches. When it is necessary to do that in bad weather, the officers and crew are not subject to more inconvenience than would be experienced in a vessel of ordinary construction battened down under like circumstances; but, on the contrary, the comprehensive system of artificial ventilation by which fresh air is introduced into every part of the ship at once is an advantage which no other vessel would possess. Under the fine-weather condition of the present cruise in the Adriatic, with the tops of the turrets and all hatches constantly open, it was not necessary to use the fans, but for the additional comfort of the officers who sleep below two are usually worked at night, and in this respect the Devastation has the decided advantage over other ships in close or sultry weather, of having a fresh current of air constantly circulating below, and she is certainly the sweetest ship between decks I have yet served in. Herewith, I have the honour to enclose a nosological Return from the Staff Surgeon for the period included between the 5th of May and the date hereof (17th of June), which shows that the ship's company have enjoyed an immunity from sickness since the arrival of the ship at Malta, for which, I venture to say, it would be difficult to find a parallel in the fleet. At the present moment, but for the five cases of contusions and sprains caused by accidents, there would not be a man upon the sick list.