HC Deb 16 June 1896 vol 41 cc1156-7
MR. H. O. ARNOLD-FORSTER (Belfast, W.)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether the statement that six of the new torpedo boat destroyers are to be named respectively the Cynthia, Sylvia, Violet, Fawn, Bullfinch, and Dove is true; and, if so, on what principle the Admiralty have selected these apparently inappropriate names for destroyers carrying six guns and three torpedo tubes.

THE FIRST LORD OF THE ADMIRALTY (Mr. G. J. GOSCHEN, St George's,) Hanoversquare

It is the usual practice in choosing names for new ships to select from those which are already in the Signal Book, not only for the sake of convenience, but because they are old service names, around some of which naval traditions cluster. Owing to the great increase in the Navy, we have exhausted all the fiercer names [a laugh], but our annals do not show that ships with feminine names have fought less heroically than their sisters with less graceful appellations. The deeds of the saucy Arethusa, though called after a nymph, live conspicuously in naval story. The Sylph and the Cynthia distinguished themselves in brave exploits. It is true that the bestowing of feminine names on ships dates from the days when sailors spoke of them as "she." Though nowadays the modern ship, like the new woman, has become unsexed, she still retains her feminine name, though she has adopted masculine attributes.[Laughter.]


asked the right hon. Gentleman whether he was aware that, if he adhered to the principle of utilising names in the Signal Book, he would probably be compelled to call the next three ironclads the Fanny, the Amelia, and the Fly? [Laughter.]


said the naval officers did not object to names they had read in history, but he would be guided in the matter to a great extent by his naval advisers.