HC Deb 05 May 1881 vol 260 cc1833-4

asked the Secretary to the Admiralty, If he will state any further particulars with regard to the destruction of H.M.S. "Doterel" than have already been made public?


Sir, the most interesting information which can be given the House relates to the date when authentic information is likely to be forthcoming. In the first place, the Britannia packet, bringing home Commander Evans and the survivors from the ill-fated ship, is expected to arrive at Lisbon on the 25th of this month, and at Liverpool on the 1st of June. Then, and only then, we shall have the story so far as it is known to the men and officers who escaped. In the next place, the Garnet, corvette, has been ordered down to Sandy Point from Montevideo, and she carries an artificer diver as well as a seaman diver. The Doterel, if she sank at anchor, will probably lie in from 8 to 10 fathoms of water. The Eurydice, as hon. Members may be interested in knowing, lay in 11½ fathoms; and there is every hope that, with the assistance which Lieutenant Stokes, of the Doterel, who remained at Sandy Point, will be able to give, the condition of the vessel will be ascertained in all particulars. In consideration of the exceptional nature of the case, the Admiralty have ordered the Turquoise, corvette, which was on the Pacific Station waiting to be relieved by the Champion from Ashantee, to start on her homeward voyage at once, and to join the Garnet in the Straits of Magellan. The Commander-in-Chief on the Pacific has been informed that she is wanted to assist in diving operations, and will, no doubt, take care that she has divers on board. The report of what has been ascertained on the spot will be brought to Montevideo, either by one of these vessels, or by one of the Pacific Steam Navigation Company's packets, which pass through the Straits at intervals of about a fortnight. Something may be known sooner; but we may fully expect about the end of the month to know all that can be told, both by the survivors of the crew, and by the unfortunate vessel herself. I have with me full particulars of the quantity and stowage of the various explosives on board; but I do not think I need communicate them to the House further than by saying that there were 4 tons and 7 cwts. of powder in the fore magazine, which is quite enough to account for the accident itself.