HC Deb 28 April 1881 vol 260 cc1319-20

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, What breech-loading guns will be supplied for the service of the Navy during the course of the present year; and if it is the intention of the Admiralty to send any of Her Majesty's ships to sea armed with guns inferior in respect of range, penetration, and accuracy to the new guns with which the ships of war of other countries are now armed?


Sir, the breech-loading guns which will be supplied for the service of the Navy during the present financial year will be eight 9.2 inch 18-ton guns, four 8 inch 11½ ton guns, and 103 6 inch 4 ton guns. It is intended that, as ships come in for repair, these guns will replace guns of equivalent weight and of the present patterns. For instance, the 9.2 inch breech-loaders will be employed to re-arm one of the four ships which at present carry 18 ton muzzle-loaders; while the 8 inch and 6 inch guns will replace the 7 inch and 9 inch muzzle-loaders on such ships as the Shah and Raleigh. With regard to the heavier guns, it is intended that all ships now under construction shall be armed with the new 43-ton breech-loading gun, which we have reason to hope will be inferior in range, penetration, and accuracy to no gun of at all the same calibre which is now in course of construction in any country, and far superior to those of that calibre with which the other great Navies of the world are at present armed. The Ajax and the Agamemnon—whose armament was decided by the late Board and cannot now be altered—will be the last ships that will go to sea with the 38-ton muzzle-loader; improved, however, so as to carry a much heavier charge. The Conqueror. the Majestic, the Collingwood, and the Colossus will all carry that 43-ton gun in whose birth and progress the right hon. Gentleman has taken so keen and effective an interest—an interest which I earnestly hope he will continue to exhibit until the first of them is actually mounted in steel and iron on one of Her Majesty's vessels.


I beg to give Notice that, on going into Committee on the Navy Estimates, I shall call attention to the desirability of still further efforts being made in the direction of adopting breech-loading guns for the Navy.