HC Deb 03 March 1898 vol 54 cc450-3

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he has now any information to give the House relative to H.M.S. Powerful's performances on the way to China, and whether his attention has recently been called to a statement relative to defects in the engines of the Powerful, purporting to come from a correspondent on board that ship, and published in the Naval and Military Record of 6th January; whether he can inform the House as to the number of steaming days occupied by the Powerful from Portsmouth to Hong Kong; how many days in harbour from time of leaving to time of arrival; what was the average speed, the average indicated horse power, the total consumption of fuel, and the consumption per indicated horse power per hour; what tubes, if any, had to be replaced in boilers during voyage or on arrival; had any repairs to be made in the feed arrangements; and was anything done to the evaporators?


At the same time may I ask the First Lord of the Admiralty if he will inform the House whether the engine bearers of the Powerful have gone down, and whether a sinking of the port engine has taken place; also whether the speed has been reduced from 22 to 16 knots; and, whether it will be necessary for the Powerful to return to England for repairs?

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

The Powerful called at Las Palmas, Simon's Bay, and, in deference to a request from the Government of Cape Colony, at Port Elizabeth and East London. She called also at Mauritius, Colombo, and Singapore. She was ordered to make the voyage at an average speed of 12½ knots, and to make a 24 hours' trial at 12,500 h.p. on leaving Mauritius, circumstances permitting. The voyage as far as Mauritius was accomplished at the speed ordered and without any devious incident. The exact details of the passage have not yet been received, but the number of steaming days was 50½ approximately, and number of days in harbour 36½. With the exception of the trial after leaving Mauritius the average speed was about 12½ knots as ordered. No returns have yet been received giving the average i.h.p., the total consumption of fuel or consumption per i.h.p. per hour, but from the report of the 24 hours' run from Mauritius, the i.h.p. was on that trial 12,079, the coal for 24 hours for all purposes 293 tons, which includes 41½ tons for auxiliary services, and the consumption per i.h.p. per hour for propelling engines was 1.93 lbs. No defects whatever have occurred in the generating tubes of the boilers, but two defective downcomer tubes were renewed, and only ordinary working defects have required to be made good to the main and auxiliary feed pumps during the voyage, and on arrival at Hong Kong. One evaporator pump broke down near Simon's Town, and both evaporator pumps broke down shortly after completion of 24 hours run from Mauritius, but no specific cause has been assigned for this accident. It has been reported that during the 24 hours' run above referred to, nearly the whole of the crank head brasses of the main engine heated. The trial, however, was not stopped, and it is surmised that, in consequence, the brasses were seriously injured. With reference to the question of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire, there is no information that the bearers have gone down. It has been reported that the crank shafts have dropped 1–16th of an inch, and the bearings have worn inwards 3–64ths of an inch. This is not abnormal under the circumstances, and should cause no inconvenience after the brasses have been refitted. No report has been received as to any reduction in speed or anything which is at all likely to necessitate the Powerful's return to England.

MR. J. F. FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)

Will the right hon. Gentleman say why orders were not given for a more extended trial of these boilers at their full power, having regard to their experimental character?


These experimental trials try ships very severely when first commissioned. It is not the custom in the mercantile marine to run long distances at full speed at first trial, nor is it the custom in Her Majesty's service.

MR. W. ALLAN (Gateshead)

Will the right hon. Gentleman say how it was that the Powerful took ten days to steam 1,500 miles and consumed 8,750 tons of coal in going to Singapore at a cost of £12,000?


The hon. Member must give me notice of that question.