USS Holland (SS-1)

USS Holland (SS-1)

USS "Holland" (SS-1) was the United States Navy's first commissioned submarine, named for her Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland. The boat was originally laid down as "Holland VI", and launched on 17 May 1897.

Design and construction

The work was done at (Ret.) Navy Lt. Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard of Elizabeth, New Jersey for John Holland's company, then known as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. The craft was built under the supervision of John Holland who designed the vessel and its details in unison with the Crescent Shipyard's chief constructor/naval architect, Arthur Leopold BuschFact|date=February 2008. A recent emigre to the United States from Great Britain, Busch subsequently played an integral role in the development of the modern naval submarine.Fact|date=February 2008 After meeting Holland in 1896, Busch had essentially taken Holland's sketches and ideas and transformed them into blueprints and steel.

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.


The "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 power plant 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.


The "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 sclass|Plunger|submarine|0. These became America's first fleet of underwater naval vessels.

"Holland", along with six other Holland-type submarines, were based in New Suffolk, New York on the North Fork of Long Island between 1899 and 1905, prompting the hamlet to claim to be the "First Submarine Base" in the United States. [ [ history - Retrieved November 4, 2007] ]

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.

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

The USS "Holland" was the first commissioned submarine in the United States Navycite book|title=John P. Holland, 1841-1914: Inventor of the Modern Submarine|author=Richard Knowles Morris|publisher=University of South Carolina Press|accessdate=2008-02-12|date=1998|url=] 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 Submarine Propeller (aka USS|Alligator|1862|2) while the second was the Intelligent Whale.)

On October 16 1900, in order to be kept serviceable throughout the winter, "Holland" left Newport under tow of tug "Leyden" for Annapolis, Maryland, 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.Fact|date=September 2007

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

Except for the period June 15 to October 1, 1901, which was passed training cadets at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, "Holland" remained at Annapolis until July 17, 1905, as a training submarine.

"Holland" finished out her career at Norfolk, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 21, 1910. She was sold as scrap to Henry A. Hitner & Sons, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1913 for one hundred dollars. 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.


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 Museum and Library

* The New York Times, obituary section, Sunday, March 11, 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. complementing Arthur L. Busch's proficiency in the field of naval architecture and shipbuilding during the time when the United States Navy's first submarines were being developed at Nixon's Crescent Shipyard - and his key role developing the first five Imperial Japanese Naval Submarines on behalf of the newly reorganized Electric Boat Company are mentioned in these letters. These documents are archived and can be found housed at "The Nautilus Memorial Submarine Force Library and Museum" in New London, CT.

External links

* [ Official Chief of Naval Operations (Pentagon) web site/Submarine Warfare Division under Submarine Pioneers/John Holland/Arthur Busch etc.]
* [ John Philip Holland's primary web site] . This site also contains information on Elihu B. Frost, Arthur L. Busch, Frank Cable, Lawrence York Spear, Isaac Rice etc.
* [ Important site pointing out Holland's diminished role while building submarines]
* [] Web site acknowledging Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard as location where USS Holland SS-1 was developed.
* [] USS Holland SS-1 is acknowledged again on this web site.
* [] This site attempts to further explain the events that took place while John P. Holland's company was being formed.

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