HC Deb 08 February 1881 vol 258 cc350-1

wished to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether it was the intention of the Government, in the event of hostilities breaking out with Ashantee, to form a naval brigade for service on the West Coast of Africa, with the proper complement of Marines and guns?


In answer to the Question of the noble Lord, I need hardly remind him that the Admiralty are only responsible for what is going on afloat, and that a naval brigade would not be landed, except at the request of the Colonial Office or the War Office. The Admiralty recognize as part of its business to see that Her Majesty's ships are so stationed that assistance can be afforded if necessary in the present juncture. That is what has been, and is being done, for, at the present moment, all the heavily-manned portion of the Squadron is at Durban, and the available drafts of the crews have been landed to serve with Sir George Colley. The senior officer in command on the Gold Coast is, no doubt, concentrating his gunboats for the protection of the settlement. By the last advices, one, the Foam, was there already, and four others—the Rambler, the Firefly, the Pioneer, and the Flirt-—may be there at any moment. But, in order to provide against any need that may arise, the Admiralty have taken the following step:—The Champion, a fine corvette, with a crew of 264 men, is to-day at Madeira, on her way to join the Pacific Squadron, under the command of Captain George Hope. We have telegraphed to her to proceed to St. Vincent for orders; and, if necessary, she will go on from St. Vincent to Cape Coast Castle, collecting the gunboats on her arrival, if not collected before. This would place a good officer of high rank and an effective available force, with Gatling guns, on the scene of action within 12 clays from this time.