HC Deb 24 May 1900 vol 83 cc1096-8
* MR. ALLAN (Gateshead)

I beg to ask the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the nature and extent of the repairs necessary to the water-tube boilers of H.M.S. "Hermes"; is this vessel only on her first commission, and was she towed to Bermuda for repairs; how long has she been in port under repair, and when will she be again fit for sea; and can he state whether, when the boilers gave out, were the stokers in a state of panic in the stokehole; and further, is this vessel a similar cruiser to H.M.S. "Highflyer."


The "Hermes" put into Nassau with serious defects owing to the failure of feed pumps and great leakage of water from joints. She was towed to Port Royal, Jamaica, by the "Crescent," where temporary repairs were carried out, and afterwards ordered to proceed to Bermuda to complete the repairs, and in order that a court of inquiry might be held into the circumstances. She was towed by the "Tribune" part of the way. The court of inquiry is now being held, and the inspector of machinery who superintended the trials of the "Highflyer" has been sent out to assist in the inquiry. The "Highflyer" is a similar ship to the "Hermes," with machinery by the same makers, and no defects of a similar kind occurred in her, though she was put through a much more severe test than the ordinary steaming service of the "Hermes." No further statement as to the nature and cause of the defects in the "Hermes" can be made until the report of the court of inquiry has been received, nor can it be stated how long the repairs will take. The stokers and also the deck hands who were sent down to assist appear to have behaved very well under somewhat trying circumstances. There was no panic.


Arising out of the answer may I ask whether this was not the first vogage of the " Hermes "; and whether it is not a fact that her boilers have given out, and that she is now lying in Bermuda undergoing repairs.


It was the vessel's first commission. My answer shows that there are serious defects and that she is now lying at Bermuda for repairs.


I am anxious to get a reply in a certain way. Is it not the boilers of the ship that have given out, was she not towed from Port Royal in Jamaica to Bermuda for repairs, and will she not be unfit for sea for six months? I want an answer.


I told the hon. Member that we cannot say how long the repairs will take. I should think they will not take as long as six months. But I have stated what the failure was—it was "failure of feed-pumps and great leakage of water from joints."


Boiler joints?


I should say the leaky joints were not in the boilers; but an inquiry will be held, and the hon. Member will then be able to ascertain the true facts of the case. I admit frankly that there have been serious defects in the ship which did not occur in the sister ship "Highflyer."

SIR J. FORTESCUE FLANNERY (Yorkshire, Shipley)

May I ask whether the vessel is entirely helpless as a warship, but—


Order, order! These are comments.