HC Deb 17 March 1887 vol 312 cc553-5

The Board have carefully considered the types and dimensions of the torpedo-boats, which experience and experiment have shown to be best adapted for sea-service or harbour-defence. The practical tests during recent evolutions imposed upon first-class torpedo-boats, that is, boats intended for open-sea service, and upwards of 100 feet in length, have shown that they could not, in actual warfare, stand the strain of the daily wear and tear to which they might be exposed. The discomfort and hardships which their crews have to endure in rough weather, the loss of speed to which, after steaming a certain number of hours at full pressure, they are subject, owing to the tendency of their necessarily-contracted boiler tubes to choke, disqualify boats of these dimensions from taking the prominent part in warfare in the open sea which their adherents claimed for them. The Board have therefore decided in future to build for seagoing purposes vessels of larger dimensions, capable of acting both on the offensive and defensive in torpedo warfare in the open sea. These vessels to be of the "Rattlesnake" type, capable of maintaining for many hours the initial speed of the ordinary torpedo-boat, armed with quick-firing guns, and another gun of a larger calibre, and affording adequate accommodation and protection to the complement they carry for sea-going purposes.

The Board have decided upon adopting a new type of second-class torpedo-boat, capable of being lifted on board ships of a certain displacement, and which would be carried by the ship for service in the place of the larger or first-class torpedo-boats which now are supposed to accompany a squadron.

The 125-feet torpedo-boats now building or built have, in most instances, been allotted to the defence of the great military ports and coaling stations, where they will remain.

Two improved boats of the second-class have been ordered from Messrs. Yarrow, and are to be completed in a short time.

Important experiments have also been undertaken with a view to determine the most suitable torpedo-armament for boats.