HC Deb 05 May 1892 vol 4 cc155-6
MR. PENN (Lewisham)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the engine-room artificers of the Royal Sovereign are to be reduced in number from 18 to 12; whether the difference in numbers is to be made up by the promotion of chief stokers to the position of engine-room artificers; and whether experience shows that chief stokers so promoted are as efficient as engine-room artificers in keeping in working, and, in the event of a breakdown, in repairing, the various engines and machinery in ships of war?


The complement of engine-room artificers in the Royal Sovereign will be reduced from 18 to 12 as stated, and the difference made up by the substitution of six chief stokers for six engine-room artificers, as it is considered that these men, from their long experience, are better qualified for certain kinds of work such as water-tenders, than junior engine-room artificers. Chief stokers would not be so efficient for making good defects in the event of a breakdown of machinery as engine-room artificers; but it is not intended that they should be borne for such a purpose, the number of engine-room artificers now allowed being considered sufficient to meet all mechanical requirements.


I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the recent engine trial of the ironclad Royal Sovereign gave the estimated contract speed, under natural and forced draught, continuously or only collectively; whether the trial was in smooth water, and with or against the tide; if so, is it intended further to test and record the vessel's speed in rough weather, and against a head wind, for the purpose of ascertaining how long she can be navigated under forced draught without injury to the boilers or crew confined in the engine-room; and whether it is true that a slight leakage was observed during the four hours' trial in the tubes of two of the boilers?


There was no contract speed to be attained in the case of the Royal Sovereign. The contract was for the development of 9,000 h.p. for eight hours, and 13,000 h.p. for four hours. The actual development averaged 9,640 h.p. for eight hours, and 13,000 h.p. for four hours. The corresponding speeds realised were about 16¾ and 18 knots, as against estimated speeds of 16 and 17½ knots. The trial was in smooth water, with and against tide. Trials at sea are made as matters of course after ships are commissioned, but no trials under forced draught, such as those suggested, are contemplated. They are not required. The engine-room is never under air pressure. A slight leakage did occur, during the fourth hour only of the maximum test, and it was then found to be due to preventible causes.