HC Deb 21 February 1902 vol 103 cc741-2

It is not necessary or desirable to discuss in this House the distribution of the Fleet; but I should like to point out that there has been a great addition to the strength of some of our squadrons; there has been an addition to the number of ships in commission. Undoubtedly the strength of the Mediterranean Squadron, which is now, and always must be a most important squadron, has been very considerably increased. The battleships in the Mediterranean are now more homogeneous and more powerful than they were, and the number of destroyers has risen now to 24. The Home Fleet, for that is the name by which I think we shall in future know the Fleet in our own waters, has also been strengthened by the substitution of three very powerful battleships of the "Royal Sovereign" class for three older vesssels. As the new ships take the water, and they are taking it very fast—the ships of the "Implacable" and "Duncan" class, and eventually the ships of the "King Edward" class—we shall be able still further to strengthen, and, if necessary, to reinforce, those squadrons.

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