HC Deb 10 February 1887 vol 310 cc1095-6
ADMIRAL FIELD (Sussex, Eastbourne)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether 20 is the correct number of torpedo boats recently delivered by the contractor constructed with "bottle-nose" bows, which have now to be taken to pieces and re-constructed at considerable expense to render them efficient in a sea-way, and the cost per vessel of such re-construction; whether the design of these particular boats was prepared by the contractor or the Constructors' Department at the Admiralty, and approved by the Naval Members of the late Board; and, whether, in view of this and other recent serious mistakes in designs of ships, the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty will consider the advisability of re-constituting a "Committee of Designs," composed of scientific seamen and others, to whom shall be referred all future designs of vessels of war before finally approving of any?


Messrs. Thornycroft supplied 25 torpedo boats, of which the bows and torpedo armament will have to be altered as the result of a trial at sea. The cost of the alteration is £246 per boat. The design was prepared by Messrs. Thornycroft. It was accepted by the Director of Naval Construction, and received the approval of the Board of Admiralty in April, 1885. Originally it was intended to try the first vessel before ordering others; but, under the pressure of the preparations in 1885, the order for the 25 was given on an untried design. My hon. and gallant Friend suggests that, with the object of preventing errors of calculation in designs, which, undoubtedly, have occurred in the past, a Committee of experts should be associated with the technical advisers of the Admiralty, whose approval should be necessary before new designs are passed. I am not in favour of such a proposal; for I am satisfied that the blunders of the past can be traced to a want of individual responsibility for advice given and action proposed, and we are now working in the direction of concentrating, rather than sub-dividing, personal responsibility.