During the American War of Independence, the principal innovation had been the coppering of the fleet. Although productive of greater speed and intervals between hull cleaning, the galvanic action of copper upon iron bolts in ships’ hulls produced corrosion and was not understood. Despite dissident voices, the fleet was nevertheless coppered. After the war at great expense, all the iron bolts in coppered ships had to be replaced by others made of copper and zinc. The innovation had been driven by the Comptroller of the Navy Board, Charles Middleton, who was later accused of ignoring critics of the scheme, of ignorance and ambition. The appointment of Bentham in 1796 took to the Admiralty a man who had experimented and patented processes for performing operations in wood and in a vacuum. He immediately employed his office Chemist to experiment with the same method to improve food packing and water distilling for ships, and to manage heat to improve conditions for seafarers. The Chemist, James Sadler, was largely negative in his responses and, when asked to experiment with cements and copper, was adamant against experimentation without a laboratory. This initially had been included in the provisions necessary for the office of the Inspector General. Bentham’s failure to obtain a laboratory remains a mystery. Both Sadler and Bentham also attributed their discord to personality factors. Their clash was a serious failure: thereafter for nine years the Chemist was ignored by the Inspector General who was obliged to look elsewhere for chemistry.