USS Holland (SS-1)

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For other ships of the same name, see USS Holland.
USS Holland (SS-1) underway
USS Holland (SS-1) underway
United States
  • Holland VI (1897–1900)
  • Holland (1900–)
Namesake: John Philip Holland
Builder: Crescent Shipyard, Elizabeth, New Jersey[1]
Laid down: November 1896
Launched: 17 May 1897[1]
Acquired: 11 April 1900
Commissioned: 12 October 1900[1]
Decommissioned: 17 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
Class & type: Submarine
  • 64 long tons (65 t) surfaced[2]
  • 74 long tons (75 t) submerged[2]
Length: 53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) LOA[2]
Beam: 10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) extreme[2]
Draft: 8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)[2]
  • 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced[2]
  • 5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged[2]
Complement: 6[2]

USS Holland (SS-1) was the United States Navy's first modern commissioned submarine, although not the first military submarine of the United States, which was the 1775 submersible Turtle. The boat was originally laid down as Holland VI, and launched on 17 May 1897.

Design and construction[edit]

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 Holland Torpedo Boat Company, which became the Electric Boat company in 1899.[4] The craft was built under the supervision of John Philip Holland, who designed the vessel and her details. The keel to this craft was laid at Nixon's Crescent Shipyard with both men present. The two men worked together using many of John Holland's proven concepts and patents to make the submarine a reality, each man complementing the other's contributions to the development of the modern submarine.

Holland VI included many features that submarines of the early 20th century would exhibit, albeit in later, more advanced forms. She had both an internal combustion engine (specifically, a 4-stroke Otto gasoline engine) for running on the surface and an electric motor for submerged operation. She had a reloadable 18 inch (457 mm) torpedo tube and an 8.4 inch (210 mm) pneumatic dynamite gun in the bow (the dynamite gun's projectiles were called "aerial torpedoes"). A second dynamite gun in the stern was removed in 1900, prior to delivery to the Navy.[5] There was a conning tower from which the boat and her 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 her validity and worthiness as a warship and was ultimately purchased by the U.S. government for the sum of $150,000 on 11 April 1900. She was considered to be the first truly successful craft of her type.[by whom?] The United States Government soon ordered more submarines from Holland's company, which were to be known as the Plunger class. These became America's first fleet of underwater naval vessels.

USS Holland (SS-1) from Scientific American 1898. The muzzle door of the bow dynamite gun is open


Holland VI was modified after her christening, and was renamed USS Holland (SS-1) when she was commissioned by the US Navy on 12 October 1900, at Newport, Rhode Island, with Lieutenant Harry H. Caldwell in command.

Holland was the first commissioned submarine in the US Navy[6] and is the first of the unbroken line of submarines in the Navy. She was the third submarine to be owned by the Navy, however. (The first submarine was Propeller (also known as Alligator) and the second was Intelligent Whale.)

Holland under construction, 1900

On 16 October 1900, in order to be kept serviceable throughout the winter, Holland left Newport under tow of the 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.

Holland (briefly) and five Plunger-class Holland-type submarines were 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.[7]

Except for the period from 15 June to 1 October 1901, 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, when she was decommissioned.

Holland finished her career at Norfolk, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 21 November 1910. This revolutionary submarine was sold as scrap to Henry A. Hitner & Sons of Philadelphia 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.

About 1915 the hulk of the Holland, stripped of her external fittings, was sold to Peter J. Gibbons. As of October, 1916 she was on display in Philadelphia.[8] In May 1917 she was moved to the Bronx, New York as a featured attraction at the Bronx International Exposition.[9]

Holland was on display for several years in Paterson, New Jersey until she was finally scrapped in 1932.


The success of the submarine was instrumental in the founding of the Electric Boat Company, now known as the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation. This company, therefore, can trace its origins to the formation of John Philip Holland's original company and the revolutionary submarines that were developed at this shipyard.

See also[edit]

Media related to USS Holland (SS-1) at Wikimedia Commons


  1. ^ a b c d e 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. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Bauer, K. Jack; Roberts, Stephen S. (1991). Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775–1990: Major Combatants. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. p. 253. ISBN 0-313-26202-0. 
  3. ^ U.S. Submarines Through 1945 pp. 305–311
  4. ^ "Crescent Shipyard". Retrieved 2012-09-21. 
  5. ^ Friedman, p. 25
  6. ^ a b Morris, Richard Knowles (1998). John P. Holland, 1841–1914: Inventor of the Modern Submarine. University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 978-1-57003-236-3. Retrieved 2008-02-12. 
  7. ^ "history". Retrieved 2007-11-04. [dead link]
  8. ^ Ward County Independent. October 26, 1916. pg. 1.
  9. ^ New York Tribune. May 25, 1917.

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]