HC Deb 08 June 1896 vol 41 cc615-6
MR. ELLIOTT LEES (Birkenhead)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty, whether an official inquiry has been held relating to the capsizing of the whaler boat of H.M.S. Acorn, shortly before Christmas, on the South American station, whereby five men lost their lives; and, if so, who was responsible for directing that the smaller boat should be used, and for regulating the number of men to be carried by her?


A Court of Inquiry was held at Montevideo on December 20th last. The decision of the Court was to the effect that the whaler did not give accommodation sufficient for the men who were being brought from the shore, looking to the threatening state of the weather. A larger boat could have been sent, but it had been the custom to send two boats, the whaler and the gig, when less than 20 men were to come off to the ship. The first lieutenant acted in accordance with this custom, sending those two boats, and it was he who was responsible for what occurred. The Board of Admiralty considered that an error in judgment had been committed in sending 14 men in the whaler, especially under the conditions of weather prevailing at the time, but what they heard of the sequel enabled them to express approval of the creditable look-out kept on board the Acorn and the prompt measures taken to save life when the sad accident occurred.