HC Deb 19 July 1888 vol 328 cc1741-2
MR. GOURLEY (Sunderland)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, How many Squadrons are to be mobilized in the forthcoming Naval Manœuvres; whether the evolutionary exercises are to be in divisions comprising every class and type of ship and torpedo craft now afloat; whether the mobilization is for the purpose of ascertaining how best to protect the English and Irish Channels, as well as the leading military and commercial harbours on the coasts of the I United Kingdom, or whether it is intended to ascertain how best to prevent an enemy's ships from leaving their ports; if it is true that some of the Squadrons are to keep the sea for three weeks; if so, are the manœuvres to be confined to the quantity of coal on board, or will the vessels be supplied with coal at sea; whether it is intended that large bodies of troops are to be concentrated at a point on the coast for the purpose of exercising the crews in the rapid landing and embarking of men and stores; and, whether hospital and intelligence ships are to be attached to the Fleet, as would be the case in a time of war?


It would be premature at the present moment to state the whole objects of the proposed Naval Manœuvres; but I will publish shortly a Statement giving a sketch of the purport of the operations.

CAPTAIN COTTON (Cheshire, Wirral)

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty, Whether his attention had been called to the serious accidents reported in The Times of that morning as having occurred during the first two days of the Naval Manœuvres to the vessels of Her Majesty's Fleet—namely, Her Majesty's ship Northampton, unmanageable for one hour, her steering apparatus having broken down; No.41 torpedo boat sent to the Dockyard for repairs; Her Majesty's ship Agincourt in collision with a merchant vessel—result, one marine killed, boat, anchor, and 15 fathoms of cable lost; No.—torpedo boat disabled, last seen in tow of Her Majesty's ship Volage; and, whether the noble Lord would cause the strictest inquiry to be made into these and any future mishaps; and, if he would take care that a Return was prepared, similar to that of last year, giving the total number and par- ticulars of all casualties which might occur in the Fleet during the present manœuvres?


The report of The Times alluded to does not justify the allegations implied in the Question that serious accidents have occurred to Her Majesty's ships engaged in the Naval Manœuvres. With the exception of a collision between the Agincourt and a merchant steamer, as to the causes of which information has not yet been received, the casualties mentioned are trifling. The Admirals in command of the Squadrons will, in accordance with the usual practice, cause inquiry to be made as to the accidents that occur, and they will forward the Reports to the Admiralty. There will be no objection to the preparation of a Return showing any casualties, and their causes, during the manœuvres.