HC Deb 20 November 1888 vol 330 cc1649-50

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, When, and in what manner, the Board of Admiralty are going to adopt the strong recommendation of the Committee on Navy Estimates for further investigating, with the aid of outside opinion, the value of those battle-ships with unarmoured ends which form the majority of the British Fleet; and, having regard to the information lately given by the Secretary of State for War, as to the alarming effect of the high explosives on targets representing the unarmoured ends of these battle-ships, whether he will assure the House that experiments shall be undertaken as soon as possible in a practical and business-like manner with one of the vessels itself?


The recommendation of the Report is as follows:— Your Committee do not conceive it to be their duty to examine into and report upon the question of the design of these vessels. But in view of the adverse opinions expressed regarding them by high professional authorities, as well as on account of the evidence given by the Director of Naval Construction, your Committee would press on the Admiralty the necessity of further investigating, with the aid of outside opinion, the best means of distributing the protective armour to be given to our battle-ships and cruisers in the future. And this we shall be prepared to give effect to. The experiments recently carried out as to the effect of high explosives bursting inside a ship do not merely affect the unarmoured ends of ships, but any other portion of any ship which is devoid of vertical armour. To fire at the unarmoured part of one ship would be no test of the fighting capacity of the ship, unless the ship fired at were allowed to return the fire of the ship assailing her; and, therefore, I cannot consent to an experiment which would be both misleading and very costly.