HC Deb 11 March 1897 vol 47 cc491-2

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) what was the number of seamen quartered in barracks at the naval bases at home at Plymouth, Portsmouth, and Chatham, including Sheerness, respectively on 1st instant; (2) what was the number of seamen on board sea-going ships in commission or in reserve at those ports respectively on the 1st inst.; (3) whether the admirals commanding in chief at each of these naval bases were in supreme command both of seamen in barracks and the seamen in the ships; (4) whether the seamen are changed from barracks to ships and ships to barracks according to the necessities of the Naval service and of the training of the seamen; and (5), whether he has been informed by his advisers that the requirements of the Naval service and the thorough efficiency of the seamen are fully provided for by the system of interchange from barracks to ships and ships to barracks at these naval bases and coaling ports at home?


The number of seamen in the divisions at the naval ports at home on the 1st of the month was:—Portsmouth, 2,710 (1,700 in gunnery and torpedo schools); Devonport, 2,268 (1,250 in gunnery and torpedo schools); Chatham (including Sheerness), 1,817 (600 in gunnery and torpedo schools). These numbers include men in depôts, gunnery and torpedo schools, and those employed as care and maintenance parties of ships in reserve and in tenders. The number of seamen in sea-going ships in commission at the same ports was:—Portsmouth, 1,319; Devonport, 136; Chatham (including Sheerness), 492. All these numbers vary from day to day, and those in ships in commission are entirely dependent upon the ships that happen to be at the port. For instance the Collingwood, Prince George, Blake, Melpomene, and Calliope happened to be at Portsmouth on that day, while at Devonport only the Algerine and Gossamer were in port. The answer to the third Question of the hon. and gallant Member is in the affirmative. There is no systematic exchange of men, as implied in the Question, from barracks to ships and vice versâ; seamen merely pass through the depôts in being changed from one ship's commission to another, training at the gunnery and torpedo schools in the interval. It is not considered that any systematic interchange as suggested in the Question would be of advantage to the Service.