USS Holland (SS-1)

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USS Holland (SS-1) underway
USS Holland (SS-1) underway
Career 100x35px
Name: USS Holland
Namesake: John Philip Holland
Builder: Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, New Jersey [1]
Laid down: November 1896
Launched: 17 May 1897 [1]
Commissioned: 12 October 1900 [1]
Decommissioned: 7 July 1905
Struck: 21 November 1910 [1]
Fate: Sold 18 June 1913; on display in a park in Paterson, New Jersey until sold for scrap, 1932 [1]
General characteristics
Displacement: 64 long tons (65 t) surfaced[2]
74 long tons (75 t) submerged[2]
Length: 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) o/a[2]
Beam: 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) extreme[2]
Draft: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)[2]
Installed power: 45 bhp (34 kW) (gasoline engine)
75 bhp (56 kW) (electric motor)
Propulsion: 1 × Otto gasoline engine[2]
1 × E.D. electric motor[2]
66-cell Exide battery [3]
1 × screw[2]
Speed:kn (9.2 mph; 15 km/h) surfaced[2]
5 kn (5.8 mph; 9.3 km/h) submerged[2]
Complement: 6[2]

1 × 18 in (460 mm) torpedo tube[2]

1 × 8.4 in (210 mm) dynamite gun[2]

USS Holland (SS-1) was the United States Navy's first commissioned submarine, named for her Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland, although not the first submarine of the US Navy, which was the 1862 Alligator. The boat was originally laid down as Holland VI, and launched on 17 May 1897.

Design and construction

File:SS-1 Holland diagram.png
Rough sketch of Holland

The work was done at (Ret.) Navy Lieutenant Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard of Elizabeth, New Jersey for John Holland's company, then known as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company.[4] The craft was built under the supervision of John Holland who designed the vessel and its details. The keel to this craft was laid at this time with both men present at the scene located at Nixon's Crescent Shipyard. The two men worked together using many of John Holland's proven concepts and patents to make the submarine a reality, both men complementing each others contributions to the development of the modern submarine.

Holland included many features that submarines of the early 20th century would exhibit, albeit in later, more advanced forms. It had both an internal combustion engine for running on the surface, and an electric motor for submerged operation. She had a reloadable torpedo tube and a deck gun, in its case a pneumatic dynamite gun. There was a conning tower from which the boat and its weapons could be directed. Finally, she had all the necessary ballast and trim tanks to make precise changes in depth and attitude underwater.


Holland VI eventually proved its validity and worthiness as a warship and was ultimately purchased by the American Government for the sum of $150,000.00 on 11 April 1900. It was considered to be the first truly successful craft of its type. The United States Government soon ordered more submarines from Holland's company, which were to be known as Plunger-class. These became America's first fleet of underwater naval vessels.

Holland — along with six other Holland-type submarines — was based in New Suffolk, New York on the North Fork of Long Island from 1899-1905, prompting the hamlet to claim to be the "First Submarine Base" in the United States.[5]

The success of the submarine was instrumental in the founding of the Electric Boat Company - now known as the General Dynamics Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics Corporation. The company can trace its origins to this point with these events, beginning with the formation of John Philip Holland's original company and the revolutionary submarines that were developed at this shipyard.

Holland VI was modified since its christening, and was renamed USS Holland (SS-1) when it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy on 12 October 1900, at Newport, Rhode Island, with Lieutenant Harry H. Caldwell in command.

Holland was the first commissioned submarine in the U.S. Navy[6] and is the first of the unbroken line of submarines in the Navy. It was the third submarine to be owned by the Navy however. (The first such submarine was the Propeller (aka Alligator) while the second was the Intelligent Whale).

Holland in drydock

On 16 October 1900, in order to be kept serviceable throughout the winter, Holland left Newport under tow of tug Leyden for Annapolis, Maryland[6], where she was used to train midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy, as well as officers and enlisted men ordered there to receive training vital in preparing for the operation of other submarines being built for the Fleet.[citation needed]

Holland proved valuable for experimental purposes in collecting data for submarines under construction or contemplation. Her 166 mi (267 km) surface run, from Annapolis to Norfolk, Virginia from 8-10 January 1901, provided useful data on her performance underway over an extended period.

Except for the period from 15 June-1 October, which was passed training cadets at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, Holland remained at Annapolis as a training submarine until 17 July 1905.

Holland finished her career at Norfolk, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 21 November 1910. This revolutionary submarine was regretfully sold as scrap to Henry A. Hitner & Sons, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 June 1913 for $100. Her purchaser was required to put up $5,000 bond as assurance that the submarine would be broken up and not used as a ship.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Friedman, Norman (1995). U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History. Annapolis, Maryland: United States Naval Institute. pp. 285–304. ISBN 1-55750-263-3. 
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 253. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305-311
  4. [1]
  5. history - Retrieved November 4, 2007
  6. 6.0 6.1 Richard Knowles Morris (1998). John P. Holland, 1841-1914: Inventor of the Modern Submarine. University of South Carolina Press. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 

Further reading

  • International Directory of Company Histories,Volume 86. Published July 2007, by The Thomson Gale Group/St. James Press. Listed under the heading of General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corporation. pp. 136-139.
  • Who Built Those Subs? Naval History Magazine. Written by Richard Knowles Morris PhD. Published by the United States Naval Institute, Annapolis, Maryland. October, 1998 - 125th Anniversary issue.
  • Steel Boats, Iron Men: The History of the United States Submarine Force, Turner Publishing Company, Paducah, KY. This account was revised in January 1997.
  • The Defender: The Story of General Dynamics, by Roger Franklin. Published by Harper & Row 1986.
  • The Submarine Pioneers, by CDR Richard Compton-Hall MBE RN. Published by Sutton Publishing LTD. UK 1999.
  • The Legend of Electric Boat, Serving The Silent Service, by Jeffery Rodengen. Published by Write Stuff Syndicate, 1994 and 2007.
  • The Klaxon, The U.S. Navy's official submarine force newsletter, April, 1992... top of page one. Published by The Nautilus Memorial Submarine Force Library and Museum, New London/Groton CT. Article is about Arthur Busch/Du Busc and his key role in building America's (and Japan's) first submarines, circa 1896-1905. U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum
  • The New York Times, obituary section, Sunday, 11 March 1956. Heading reads: "Arthur L. Du Busc, Submarine Pioneer, dies (at 90); Builder of First Craft Accepted by the United States".
  • Documents and letters written by John Philip Holland, Lewis Nixon and Elihu B. Frost, etc. These documents are archived and can be found housed at the U.S. Navy Submarine Force Library and Museum in New London, CT

External links

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