HC Deb 18 April 1904 vol 133 cc357-8

To ask the Secretary to the Admiralty if he will state for what speed was H.M.S. "Drake" designed: what speed did she attain during her initial speed trials; on what date was the "Drake" subsequently fitted with improved propellers, and are those propellers still in use on the "Drake"; what speed has been attained by the "Drake" with these improved propellers; what are the exact details of the screw propellers now fitted to the "Drake," and in what respect do they differ from the propellers with which she was first fitted; are the screw propellers fitted to H.M.S. "Lancaster" similar to those fitted to the "Drake," and, if not, in what respect do they differ; how many and which of His Majesty's warships are now fitted with screw propellers of the type used on the "Drake" and "Lancaster"; what increases of speed have thereby been obtained, and to what improvement in these propellers is such speed attributed; and, in view of the fact that more than 14,000,000 tons of British-owned shipping are propelled by screw propellers and of the commercial importance of sea speed, will he explain why has this information been hitherto withheld.

(Answered by Mr. Pretyman.) The "Drake" was designed for twenty-three knots. She obtained 23'05 knots on her initial trials, and in September, 1902, she was fitted with improved propellers which are still in use on the "Drake"; with the improved propellers she attained 24'll knots. It is not considered desirable to publish the exact details of the new propellers. The present propellers of the "Lancaster," and of all the ships of the "County" class, are generally similar to those now fitted to the "Drake"; and a similar gain of speed to that realised in the "Drake" has been obtained in the "County" class over the speed with the screws first fitted. The other three ships of the "Drake" class also have screws approximately the same as the "Drake" herself. The details of these improvements have not been published for the following reasons:—(1) Because under the different conditions of comparatively low speed or low revolutions which obtain in the great majority of merchant shipping the information would be of little value for improving the speed of such vessels. (2) Because it is considered undesirable that information which has been obtained at great cost to the Admiralty should be put at the disposal of Foreign Powers.