HC Deb 13 February 1918 vol 103 cc97-8W

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether a large steamer was recently torpedoed 11 miles from Milford Haven and no reply was given to her wireless signals and rockets; whether there is any naval patrol force in Milford Haven; if so, why was no assistance rendered to this vessel, especially in view of the fact that the night was calm and clear; whether complaints have been made by merchant captains in regard to lack of assistance from anti-submarine craft at Penzance, the Scilly Islands, and Falmouth; and will he assure himself that our anti-submarine vessels at all points along the coast render prompt assistance to all ships in distress?


With regard to the first part of the question, it is true that a steamer was recently torpedoed in the position stated. No signals were heard or seen from her, probably because her wire-less installation was disabled by the shock of the explosion. There is, of course, a naval patrol force in Milford Haven, and assistance was rendered by a patrol boat as soon as the circumstances became known. Complaints of the kind referred to by my hon. Friend have been received, but they are of very rare occurrence, and I think the Admiralty may fairly claim that the small number of such complaints is proof of the great service that is being daily rendered by our patrol forces. As regards the last part of the question, my hon. Friend may rest assured that to all ships in distress assistance is rendered with the utmost promptitude that is possible in the circumstances.

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