HL Deb 25 July 1878 vol 242 c202

Some remarks of a contradictory character regarding the port of Batoum were made lately in your Lordships' House by the noble Earl opposite (Earl Granville) and myself. I made a statement on one authority; the noble Earl contradicted it on another. I have no doubt that we both thought we had the best authority for our statements; but both authorities being anonymous, I felt it my duty to appeal to the Hydrographer of the Admiralty. I have not the honour of his personal acquaintance, but I am told he is a gentleman in whom may be placed the most implicit confidence. He has favoured me with the following Memorandum on Batoum:—

"Batoum can only be described as a bay, and not as a harbour. The area within which ships can anchor is limited to a circle of about 850 yards in diameter; but this area is further reduced by the very deep water, upwards of 45 fathoms, of the central part. The anchorage ground in any reasonable depth is thus confined to the shore segment of the circle, and certainly not more than three iron-clad ships could take up anchorage here, and swing clear, even with a limited amount of cable, and in fine weather. With reference to the statement made that the port has contained 13 men-of-war and a transport, this could only have been effected by the ships being placed parallel to each other at short distances, and their sterns secured to the shore, near the town on the western side of the bay. These are not conditions attached to free anchoring ground, and it could only be under very exceptional circumstances that such a squadron could be so packed, and even then with insecurity.

"F. J. EVANS, Hydrographer.

"July 25th, 1878."

I thought that an authentic document of that kind should be placed before your Lordships.