HC Deb 14 August 1879 vol 249 cc969-70

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether the Chief Constructor at a dockyard is the officer whose duty it is to report upon the merits of various compositions used for coating the bottoms of iron ships at the several dockyards; and whether he submits recommendations as to the use of these compositions, and regulates the time during which ships are allowed to remain in dock for the application of such materials, as also the number of coats to be applied in each case; whether he be aware that at Portsmouth the son of the Chief Constructor is now, and has for some years been, the agent for the gentleman whose compositions have been among those offered for competitive trial; and, whether it is not the case that the compositions to which reference is now made have been more largely brought into use and more favourably reported upon at Portsmouth than at the other dockyards.


It is the duty of the Chief Constructor, in conjunction with the Senior Constructor, as it is also that of the Admiral Superintendent, to report upon the merits of the different compositions. They submit a Report of the state of vessels' bottoms, when docked, to the Admiralty, and recommend what composition, and how many coats, should be applied. In all cases the Admiralty decide and give directions as to the course to be taken. The Admiralty have been for some time aware that a son of the Chief Constructor of Portsmouth Dockyard was connected with one of the gentlemen whose compositions for the protection of ships' bottoms are used in the Navy; but the Admiralty have not had reason to believe that this fact has influenced the officers of the Dockyard in their Reports on the merits of any of the compositions under trial. The question as to the merits of compositions is decided by the Controller's Department at the Admiralty from their own personal inspection, as well as from the Reports received from the Dockyards on foreign stations, and that Department is responsible for the adoption of any composition, and not the officers of the Dockyards. It is not the case that the composition to which reference is now made has been more favourably reported on at Portsmouth than at other Yards; it has been most favourably reported on by the Dockyards at Malta and Bermuda; and if its use has been more extended at Portsmouth than at other Yards, it is due to the Admiralty officers acting in accordance with their own observations, and the Reports they have received from the foreign Yards.