HC Deb 01 January 1894 vol 20 cc545-7

I beg to ask the Secretary to the Admiralty whether he proposes to lay upon the Table of the House, and, if so, when, the Report of Captain Hall on the behaviour of H.M.S. Resolution during the gale off Ushant, the Report of the officers who surveyed her at Devonport, and the further Report prepared by direction of the Admiralty; whether he can now state the number of degrees the Resolution rolled during the gale; whether she rolled her rail under water, and what height the rail is above the water line; how many feel of water there were in her engine-room, or in any other part of the ship below at the most; whether, during the 19th and 20th December, she was kept head to sea because it was deemed that to boar up and run back would be dangerous, and involve risk of capsising; and whether he can inform the House how it was that, while the Gleaner of 700 tons weathered the gale sufficiently to proceed on her voyage in spite of it, the Resolution of 14,000 tons without haying suffered any straining or damage to her structure proved unable to do so?

MR. FORWOOD (Lancashire, Ormskirk)

Perhaps the right hon. Gentleman will at the same time answer the questions of which I have given him private notice—namely, what quantity of coal the Resolution had on board when leaving England; how many tons would she have consumed, at 10 knots speed, from the position she was in when she put back to Gibraltar, and what quantity would, in such ease, have remained on Board on arrival at that port; and, finally, whether the damage to the vessel was so great or the risk of her loss so considerable as to justify the commanding officer returning rather than continuing his voyage?


The Resolution had 787 tons of coal on board when she left England. At 10 knots speed she would have consumed about 250 tons in fair weather between the point where she put back and her arrival at Gibraltar. About 280 tons would have remained on board under these circumstances on arrival at Gibraltar. No injury was sus- tained by the ship as far as her structure is concerned, and no damage to fittings was of a character sufficient to render her return to England necessary. All such defects could have boon made good at Gibraltar. The captain of the Resolution in determining to put back appears to have been mainly influenced by anxiety about his coal supply in the event of the gale lasting many days; and in the exercise of his discretion he determined to proceed to Queenstown. At the time he altered course with that purpose the ship was distant from Queenstown 250 miles, and from Gibraltar 840 miles. In reply to the hon. Member for Lynn Regis, I have to say that we do not propose to lay the Reports mentioned upon the Table. It has been ascertained that no accurate observations were made of the angles of rolling. The rail being under water would indicate of roll of 35 degrees in still water; but under the conditions of the sea a roll of much less than 35 degrees would have put the rail under water. With respect to the hon. Gentleman's other questions, the general statement already made to the House covers all the essential facts, and I would put it to the hon. Member and to the House whether any useful purpose can be served by repeated questions of this character.


If the right hon. Gentleman makes the appeal to me, I must say that a good purpose is served by these questions. I wish to know whether the right hon. Gentleman thinks it improper to answer the question as to how many feet of water there were in the engine-room, and whether the vessel was kept with its head to the sea, because it was thought that if she bore up, it would have involved the risk of her capsizing?


I answered both these questions the other day. I then said the statements as to the amount of water were greatly exaggerated, and my statement has been strongly confirmed by what I have heard since. I also explained that the vessel was kept with her head to the wind in order to diminish the amount of rolling.


I must press the right hon. Gentleman to answer my question. He has given no answer whatever as to how many feet of water were in the ship.


I have already stated the general facts. I have indicated in a pretty strong way the opinion which is held in the Department which I represent that questions of this character, reiterated and repeated in various forms, are calculated to do injury to the Public Service. I now state that opinion more emphatically.

MR. HANBURY (Preston)

Then, does the right hon. Gentleman assert that it is to the interest of the public that they should not know the derails?


Order, order!