John P. Holland: Father of the Modern Submarine

John Philip Holland was an Irish schoolteacher who immigrated to the United States in 1873 to pursue his passion: the design of the world's first practical submarine. Although never formally trained as an engineer, Holland realized his dream on May 17,1897, with the launching of the Holland VI, the first submarine to combine all of the major systems common to modern submarines in a single vessel. The U.S. Government purchased the Holland VI in April 1900 and commissioned it in October of that year as the USS Holland, the first submarine in the U.S. Navy's fleet. An enhanced Holland design was used for seven more U.S. submarines and was licensed to the U.K., Japan, Russia and the Netherlands, for a total of 24 Hollandtype submarines built in five countries by 1905.

Germany and Sweden also built submarines incorporating Holland's ideas. More than a century later, Holland's basic engineering principles remain the foundation of the world's fleets, and he is generally acknowledged as the father of the modern submarine.

Unfortunately, the historical significance of the USS Holland was not recognized at the time, and it was cut up for scrap in 1932. It was long believed that the destruction of the USS Holland would forever deny historians and engineers the opportunity to study Holland's innovations in detail. Today, however, modern computerized design tools have brought the USS Holland back to life in vibrant 3-D images. Through the magic of Product Lifecycle Management technology from IBM and Dassault Systemes, enthusiasts may tour the ship and operate its major systems, while engineers explore the evolution of Holland's design.

Other stories from November 2002 issue


Maritime Reporter

First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.