HC Deb 28 February 1918 vol 103 cc1579-80W
Commander BELLAIRS

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether his attention has been drawn to the loss of a certain steamer, and if the Department had previously received a communication from practical seamen protesting against the insufficient number of only five bulkheads provided in the vessel; and whether the experience in this instance, where the vessel was standing on end within three minutes of the explosion of a torpedo, is engaging the attention of the Government with a view to increasing the number of bulkheads in similar vessels and thus reducing to a minimum further loss of life and ships?


The steamer referred to was purchased in America in an advanced state to' construction. A communication was received in December, 1917, signed by certain officers and engineers, drawing attention to the number of bulkheads. The matter was thoroughly investigated and explained to these officers and engineers, and they expressed themselves as content to proceed with the ship provided the question was kept in view. The investigation showed that the bulkheads were not of an unusual arrangement, and as to strength were in full accordance with Lloyd's requirements, and that the ship was fully classed. The fitting of an additional bulkhead would have involved laying the ship up for a considerable period, and it was eventually decided, upon a balance of considerations, that the matter should stand over until a more convenient opportunity. The approved specification for standard ships provides for an additional bulkhead, and this extra bulkhead is also being fitted in ships similar to that in question acquired abroad at an earlier stage of construction.