HC Deb 12 April 1883 vol 278 cc65-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade, If his attention has been called to a simple and inexpensive system of signalling introduced by Captain W. B. Barker, of the United States Merchant Navy, to be used by vessels approaching at sea (especially in dark or thick weather), so as to enable each vessel at once to know the course steered by the other, and thus considerably reduce the danger of collision at sea; and, if this plan has been submitted to him, whether he will refer it for consideration, not only to the nautical advisers of the Board of Trade, but also to the Trinity House and Admiralty? The right hon. and gallant Member wished to say, in explanation, that collisions at sea happened now at the rate of about one every four hours. The system to which his Question referred had been investigated by the Royal United Service Institution as a means of avoiding collisions.


Sir, my attention has been called to the invention of Captain Barker for the prevention of collisions at sea. It is one of 50 similar inventions, or, I should rather say, of inventions having a similar object, and the whole of those inventions have already been submitted to a Committee, consisting of Representatives of the Board of Trade, the Admiralty, and Trinity House. The first question to be decided is as to whether any alteration in sound signals is desirable or necessary. That is a very important question, because, if it is decided in the affirmative, it will have to be brought into operation by legislation, and the arrangements now in force in the case of every maritime nation will have to be revised. It is an international question, and it does not concern this country alone. If the Committee should be of opinion that such an alteration has become necessary, Captain Barker's invention will be submitted to detailed examination together with the others to which I have referred.