HMS Holland 5

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Coordinates: 50°43′44″N 0°14′53″E / 50.729°N 0.248°E / 50.729; 0.248

Holland 3 1902 IWM Q 041181.jpg
A submarine of the Holland-class
Royal Navy Ensign
Name: Holland 5
Ordered: 1900
Builder: Vickers, Sons and Maxim, Barrow
Launched: 10 June 1902
Commissioned: 1902
Fate: Foundered off Beachy Head, 8 August 1912
General characteristics
Type: Submarine
Displacement: 105 long tons (107 t) (submerged)
Length: 63 ft 5 in (19.33 m)
Beam: 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Draught: 11 ft 10 in (3.61 m)
Installed power:
  • 160 hp (120 kW) (petrol engine)
  • 70 hp (52 kW) (electric motor)
Speed:kn (8.1 mph; 13 km/h) submerged
Range: 20 nmi (23 mi; 37 km) at 7 kn (8.1 mph; 13 km/h) submerged
Test depth: 100 ft (30 m)
Complement: 8 (Lieutenant, Sub-Lieutenant, Coxswain, Torpedo Instructor, Chief Engineering Artificer, Leading Stoker, Stoker, Leading Seaman and Able Seaman)
Armament: 1 × 18 inch (450 mm) torpedo tube (Up to 3 torpedoes)

Holland 5 was the last of the five Holland-class submarines ordered by the British Admiralty to evaluate the potential of the submarine with the Royal Navy. She was one of the first submarines to be accepted into Royal Navy service, and unique to her class, she carried one of the earliest periscopes. By the time she was launched, a number of A class submarines had already been ordered to replace this class in navy service.

She had a single hull design, built from "s" grade steel. She sank whilst under tow to the scrap yard in 1912, possibly caused by the torpedo hatch being left open. The wreck was rediscovered in 2000 and was protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act in 2005. Damage has been caused to the site in recent years, and at some point between September 2008 and June 2010, the torpedo hatch was stolen off the wreck.

Design and description[edit]

Holland 5 was the fifth of the experimental Holland class submarines to be launched, on 10 June 1902,[1] at a cost of £35,000.[2][3] She was built by Vickers, Sons and Maxim in Barrow-in-Furness, under licence from Holland Torpedo Boat Company and to a design by John Phillip Holland.[2][4] She was launched one month ahead of Holland 6 (which was later designated A1).[5] The British Holland class was an extension of the design used on USS Holland.[2]

She was equipped with one of the first periscopes; at the time of her launch, no other submarines in the Royal Navy or the United States Navy were so equipped.[5] It was of British design, which used a ball and socket joint on the hull to raise and lower the scope.[2] She was constructed of "s" grade steel, which at the time of her construction was only used on this class of submarine and the Forth Bridge. She utilised a single hull design, and so her pressure hull contained her fuel tanks, ballast and other internal workings.[6] However, she was limited to a maximum depth of 100 feet (30 m).[2]

Service history[edit]

Along with Holland 3, she was one of the first two submarines to be accepted into Royal Navy service on 19 January 1903.[6] However, by the time she was launched she was already considered obsolete and thirteen A class submarines had already been ordered.[7]

On 4 March 1903, she was part of the flotilla of Holland class submarines that were undergoing a demonstration for Captain Reginald Bacon in Stokes Bay when a gasoline explosion occurred aboard Holland 1.[8] Along with the other Holland class submarines, she was quickly reduced to the role of harbor defense and training.[7] By 1909, at the time of fleet display in the Thames, the Holland class were no longer considered "sea worthy" by the media.[9] In 1910, Holland 5 ran aground off Fort Blockhouse, the location of HMS Dolphin and the home of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.[7]

By 1912, the decision was made to scrap the Holland class vessels.[7] The submarine foundered in the English Channel off Beachy Head, Sussex, on 8 August 1912, when she was under tow on the way to being scrapped at Sheerness.[5] It was not clear why she sank, but a theory is that the torpedo tube hatch was left open, causing the boat to take on water.[10]

Wreck discovery and research[edit]

In September 2000,[5] the wreck of submarine Holland 5 was discovered at a depth of 98 ft (30 m) about 6 miles (9.7 km) off the British coast near Eastbourne.[11] In April 2001, the Archaeological Diving Unit conducted a sonar scan and confirmed the identity of the wreck. The boat sits upright on the seabed.[5]

On 4 January 2005, Andrew McIntosh, Minister for Tourism and Heritage of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, announced that the wreck was designated under the Protection of Wrecks Act.[12] This makes trophy hunting and vandalism of the site a criminal offence.[13] McIntosh said of the announcement, "Only two of the Holland submarines survive today. The Holland no.5 is thought to be intact and in good condition. I am pleased that this Order will preserve the wreck site allowing proper study of the vessel and preventing any vandalism by trophy hunters."[12] In August 2005 and August 2006, amateur archaeologists had the opportunity to dive the wreck as part of a research programme led by official licensee Innes McCartney and nominated archaeologist Mark Beattie-Edwards, under the auspices of the Nautical Archaeology Society.[6]

Following further dives in June 2010 and August 2010, it was discovered that at some point divers had stolen the torpedo tube hatch off the wreck. It was determined that the item would have no monetary value and would have gone into a private collection.[14] There were no official dives on the wreck during 2009 due to the conditions, and the last sighting of the hatch in place was in September 2008.[6] Further damage has been caused to the site by fishing nets, which may have resulted in damage to the periscope and the other implements installed on the upper superstructure.[6]

Holland 5 remains the only submarine of her class on the seabed. Holland 1, the only other boat of her class remaining, is on show at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.[5] Species seen on or around the wreck site include brown crabs, European spider crabs, poutings, poor cod, Sagartia elegans (a species of sea anemone), worms of the Serpulidae family,[15] and European Conger.[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36791). London. 11 June 1902. p. 13.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Holland Class". Barrow Submariners Association. Archived from the original on 4 October 2015. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  3. ^ "The Progress of the Submarine During 1903". The Times (37360). 5 April 1904. p. 8.
  4. ^ Akermann, Paul (2002). Encyclopaedia of British Submarines, 1901-1955. Penzance: Periscope. p. 479. ISBN 978-1-904381-05-1.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Holland No.5". English Heritage. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Holland 5 Submarine". Nautical Archaeology Society. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d McCartney, Innes (2008). Lost Patrols: Submarine Wrecks of the English Channel. Penzance: Periscope. pp. 135–136. ISBN 978-1-904381-04-4.
  8. ^ "Explosion on Board a Submarine". The Times (37020). 5 March 1903. p. 9.
  9. ^ "The Fleet in the Thames". The Times (39014). 17 July 1909. p. 8.
  10. ^ Pugh, Tom (1 September 2010). "Thieves target historic submarine wreck". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  11. ^ Mattock, Jo (7 October 2010). "Hatch Stolen from Submarine Wreck". DIVE. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Heritage Minister Andrew McIntosh Acts To Protect Wreck Site Of Prototype Submarine". 4 January 2005. Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Archived from the original on 7 March 2008. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  13. ^ "Submarine wreck to be protected". BBC News. 4 January 2005. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  14. ^ "Divers steal from Holland 5 submarine off Sussex coast". BBC News. 1 September 2010. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  15. ^ Dooley, David. "Species seen on the Holland 5 submarine site". Nautical Archaeology Society. Archived from the original on 7 September 2012. Retrieved 19 January 2012.
  16. ^ "Time Team Specials - The Lost Submarine of WWI - Channel 4". Channel 4. Retrieved 22 December 2015.

External links[edit]