HC Deb 23 June 1893 vol 13 cc1783-7

I wish to communicate to the House the deplorable intelligence that we have received of the catastrophe which has occurred in the course of the manœuvres off Tripoli, on the Syrian Coast, by which the Victoria, has been lost and the Camperdown injured to an extent not yet quite ascertained. I will read the telegram that has reached the Admiralty from Admiral Markham, the second in command, one of the sad features of this occurrence being the loss of the Admiral in chief command, Admiral Tryon, who was one of the most respected and ablest of the officers in the Navy. This is the telegram from Admiral Markham— Regret to report, whilst manœuvring this afternoon off Tripoli, Victoria and Camperdown collided. Victoria sank IB minutes after in 80 fathoms, bottom uppermost. Camperdown's ram struck Victoria before the turret starboard. Following officers drowned.

  • Commander-in-Chief.
  • Clerk Allen.
  • Lieutenant Munro.
  • Chaplain Morris.
  • Chief Engineer Foreman.
  • Engineer Harding.
  • 1784
  • Assistant Engineers Deadman, Hatherly, Seaton.
  • Gunner Howell.
  • Boatswain Barnard.
  • Carpenter Beall.
  • Midshipmen Inglis, Grieve, Fawkes, Lanyon, Henley, Gambier, Scarlett.
  • Naval Cadet Stooks.
  • Assistant Clerk Savage.
  • Fleet Paymaster Rickcord.
  • Two hundred and fifty-five men saved; will report their names by telegraph.
  • Injury to Camperdown not yet fully ascertained, but damage so serious as to necessitate docking.
  • Propose to send survivors to Malta at once. Await instructions.
MARKHAM. The Admiralty state that, according to the latest return (May 25), there were on board the Victoria 718 persons (611 officers, seamen, and boys, and 107 marines). Of this number it is feared that upwards of 430 must have been lost. Until further information is received it is impossible to give a more accurate statement, and it is possible that at the time of the disaster certain men may have been lent to other ships. That is the only hope, Sir, of any mitigation of this sad intelligence, with respect to which we are certain that the deepest sympathy of the House will be excited, not only on behalf of those brave men who have found an early grave amid all the circumstances of peace, pomp, and splendour, but also on account of the surviving relatives and families of the large number of persons whose loss we have to deplore.

* LORD G. HAMILTON (Middlesex, Ealing)

Perhaps the House will allow me, as I bad during the time that I was in Office the honour of close personal relations with Admiral Tryon, and also commissioned the ship, the loss of which we have to deplore, to add my humble testimony to the tribute paid by the Prime Minister to those who have perished in this terrible calamity. Heavy as is the loss of men, Ave cannot gauge the extent of the disaster by simply enumerating those who have met with this sad fate, for that which I think oppresses and afflicts most those who are acquainted with the Victoria is the knowledge that the men who have perished were the pick and flower of the whole British Navy. The tribute of the Prime Minister to Admiral Tryon is well deserved. He was an officer of rare capacity. I had the honour of being associated with him during the whole time that I was in Office, and I can truly say that as a strategist, as a disciplinarian, as a seaman, he was greatly distinguished. In action and in council he was equally efficient, and those who knew him best predicted confidently that if he had an opportunity he would make a name and reputation second to none of those gained by the most distinguished men who had preceded him in a most distinguished Service. Such was the officer who in the zenith of his manhood and intellect has suddenly perished, and I cannot better describe the officers and men who were drowned with him than by saying that they were worthy associates of Admiral Tryon, for they formed part of a crew which, by the universal testimony of all who saw or inspected it, was one of the most efficient and best conducted that this country ever sent afloat. I feel sure the House and the country will re-echo and endorse that kindly expression of sympathy which fell from the Prime Minister. The mere knowledge that those who have perished were so gifted increases the grief of those who have to mourn their loss. We as public men can do little to assuage their sorrow, but whatever we can do I am sure we shall do heartily and spontaneously. Therefore, let us hope that the graceful and eloquent tribute paid by the Prime Minister—the expression of genuine public sympathy which this House is the first to utter, and, above all, that the recorded sense of the worth of those whom we have lost may hereafter be some small solace to those upon whom this calamity has so suddenly fallen.

MR. KEARLEY (Devonport)

I should like to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will consider the necessity of making at once suitable temporary provision for the wives and families of those who have been lost?


That is a question which, of course, will come under the consideration of the Admiralty at once.

* SIR E. J. REED (Cardiff)

May I ask the Prime Minister whether he will cause to be placed in the Library or the Tea Room of the House a drawing of this ship which will show the division of her watertight compartments, in order that those who have some acquaintance with the construction of ships may be able to form a judgment as to how it has happened that a single blow from another vessel has sent so costly a ship and so many valuable lives to the bottom?


When did this deplorable accident occur?


Yesterday afternoon.


In daylight?


Yesterday afternoon. I may say, with respect to the question of my hon. Friend, it is not only with regard to the important particulars he has named, but with regard to all the particulars, that it will, of course, as a matter of public duty be necessary to make the fullest investigation, and the results will be made known to this House and the country.


I am afraid the Prime Minister has not heard my question. I have no doubt that a full and complete investigation will be made, and that its results will be laid before the House. What I asked was whether the right hon. Gentleman will cause to be placed in the Library or the Tea Room a profile drawing of the ship showing the division of the bulkheads, so that those who are closely concerned in matters of this kind might see how it is that a ship so largely sub-divided has been sunk?


Perhaps my hon. Friend will allow me to answer the question. The subject was considered this morning at the Admiralty, and I think I may say that the Admiralty will he perfectly prepared to put a profile drawing in the Library or Tea Room, and also other drawings, showing the very remarkably complete watertight compartments which existed in the Victoria, and which are almost unequalled in any other ship.

MR. GOSCHEN (St. George's, Hanover Square)

May I suggest that all these very important questions relating to this controversy may be postponed to some other day, and that the universal expression of sorrow and grief at this great catastrophe may not on this occasion be disturbed by premature views with regard to the cause of the accident?

Mr. T. W. RUSSELL (Tyrone, S.)

Will the Secretary to the Admiralty place in the Tea Room a list of those who have been saved?


May I be allowed to disclaim what the right hon. Gentle- man has said, for I assure the House it was not with the slightest desire to complain, or to blame, but solely for the satisfaction of our minds in studying such an accident as this that I asked for the drawing?


Is the Tripoli mentioned on the African or the Syrian coast?


Tripoli on the Syrian coast.


Will the right hon. Gentleman be good enough to answer my question?


The earliest possible information will be given to the House as soon as we know the names of the officers and men who have been saved.