HC Deb 30 November 1938 vol 342 cc398-9
27. Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty in what circumstances the sailing of His Majesty's Ship "Royal Oak" from Portsmouth was recently delayed?

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. Shakespeare)

At the time the "Royal Oak" was due to sail the wind was blowing a gale with gusts of over 60 miles per hour and, in view of the nature of the service on which she was employed, it was not considered wise to attempt to sail her.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is it not the case that His Majesty's ship "Nelson" recently grounded in endeavouring to leave Portsmouth, and that the Admiral had to take train to Plymouth and take another ship there? Is the hon. Member satisfied that capital ships are able to leave Portsmouth at any time, in any wind and weather?

Mr. Shakespeare

I cannot go as far as to say that, but in time of war the chances are that there would not be a capital ship there.

Lieut.-Commander Fletcher

Is it not clear from the hon. Gentleman's answer that in cases of emergency capital ships may not be able to leave Portsmouth in certain circumstances?

Commander Marsden

Is it not the case that Portsmouth is only a repairing depot and that the Fleet anchorage is at Spit-head where ships can arrive and sail from in any weather?

Mr. Shakespeare

That is so, and unless repairs are taking place ships of this size would not be at Portsmouth.