HC Deb 04 May 1881 vol 260 cc1746-8

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, Whether he can give to the House any further particulars respecting the unhappy accident which had happened to the "Doterel?" Many of his constituents were interested in ascertaining, as soon as possible, the names of the unhappy victims of this calamity; and he wished, therefore, to know whether any list of the crew would be published in the daily papers?


Sir, a telegram was received this morning, about 8 o'clock, to this effect:— Telegram from Commander Evans, late Her Majesty's ship 'Doterel.' Montevideo, May 3, 12 55 p.m. 'Doterel' totally destroyed and sunk by explosion of fore magazine at Sandy Point, 10 a.m., April 26. Cause unknown, supposed boiler burst and exploded magazine. Twelve survivors, all well, proceeding in Britannia for Liverpool. Stokes (lieutenant) remains Sandy Point, awaiting orders. Have telegraphed (to) Pacific, and Jones (senior officer South-East Coast of America). Survivors.—Commander Evans, Lieutenant Stokes, Paymaster Colborne, Engineer Walker (of Garnet), Carpenter Baird, Gunner's Mate Pengelly, Quartermaster Trout, Caulker's Mate Ford, Shipwright Walkers, Ordinary Seaman James Smith, Stoker Turner, Marine Summers. Discharged.—Inlis (clerk), Miggeridge (sick bay man), Hayes (private), Motton (A.B.). John Ellery (A.B.) deserted. Dead.—Eight officers, 135 men. I shall go back to the Admiralty at once and make arrangements for sending the list of the crew to the papers, as suggested by the hon. and learned Member. The Admiralty has telegraphed to Montevideo, ordering Captain Loftus Jones, the senior officer on the South-East Coast of America, to proceed to Sandy Point, in order to ascertain the cause of the disaster. It may be said that Sandy Point, where Lieutenant Stokes has remained to set on foot the investigation, is a Chilian settlement in the Straits of Magellan, beginning to be much frequented for coaling and provisioning of vessels. It would be improper to make in public any premature conjecture as to the cause of this deplorable and heart-rending catastrophe. It would be, perhaps, as well not even to take for certain the conjecture mentioned in the telegram I have just read.


Can the hon. Gentleman give any information as to the boilers—whether they were new or old?


Sir, the boilers, made by Messrs. Humphreys, were new within a year. Indeed, the ship was finished within a year from the present time, and had given satisfaction in every respect. It was looked upon as an extremely well-found vessel. If the boilers exploded, the lighted coal would naturally have been blown aft. The magazine was forward. There was a wall of coal, and the tanks, containing the entire water supply of the vessel, between the magazine and the boilers; but, as I have said, it is as well to make no conjecture as to the cause of the disaster.



I beg to take the present opportunity of making a short explanation with regard to something which passed at this Morning's Sitting in the course of some conversation that arose as to the terrible accident to H.M.S. Doterel. The hon. Member for Monmouth (Mr. Carbutt) asked me who it was that made the engines and boilers of the unhappy vessel. I was unable to answer; but an hon. Gentleman near me informed me that they were made by Messrs. Humphreys. On returning to the Admiralty, I found that they were made by that admirable and trustworthy firm the Messrs. Maudslay; but I must ask the House to remember that in the present state of our knowledge as to the cause of this accident, it is not right to consider the question of the makers of the engines as having any bearing at all upon the matter. The survivors, including the captain, will arrive in England well within a month, and by that time we certainly ought to have our first report from the officer who is examining into the causes of the disaster on the spot. It would be the most patriotic thing, under these circumstances, that we should reserve our opinion.