4 NOVEMBER 1905, Page 3

The Court-Martial on Lieutenant Nasmith, the officer in charge of

Submarine A4 on the occasion of the recent mishap to, that vessel, was held at Portsmouth on Friday week. From the evidence it appeared that the accident occurred during some experiments with sound signals involving the

submersion of the whole hull, and the consequent reduction of the normal reserve of buoyancy. While in this condition the vessel began to "pump"—i.e., to bob up and down—and, the water entering through a ventilator which had been left open for purposes of signalling by a flag poked through it, the sub. marine suddenly began to sink, and dived to a depth of ninety feet, with an inclination of forty degrees by the head, before the crew, already half asphyxiated by chlorine gas, were able to clear the vessel of water. Lieutenant Nesmith redeemed his initial inadvertence, for which he was slightly repri- manded by the Court, by splendid presence of mind and promptitude, and the steadiness and discipline of the crew were above all praise; but the accident only illustrates the fact that in handling submarines perfect safety can only be guaran- teed by the elimination of all mistakes, no matter how venial. In other words, the "human element" counts more here than in any other branch of the Service. Hence, as the Times very properly contends in an excellent article in Monday's issue, it is most necessary that the causes of these unexpected sub- mersions should be fully established by inquiry and ex- periment, and that the results of such inquiry should be made public, not only in the interests of naval architecture, but to allay the anxiety created by these recurrent accidents to sub- marines.