Holland, John

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Holland, John (1841–1914).America's preeminent submarine pioneer was born at Liscannor, County Clare, Ireland, and educated by the Christian Brothers, who recognized his drafting skill and mechanical aptitude. As a parochial schoolteacher, Holland studied earlier efforts by William Bourne, David Bushnell, and Robert Fulton to construct underwater boats. Emigrating from famine‐ravaged Ireland in 1873, he secured teaching employment in Paterson, New Jersey, and won support from the Irish Revolutionary Brotherhood to construct his first submersible, tested on the Passaic River in 1878. Similarly funded, he successfully demonstrated his Fenian Ram at New York in 1881. Gaining only limited official attention, not until 1895 did he win a contract to construct the navy's steam‐powered submersible Plunger.

Holland's advanced ideas on armament, hull form, and electric underwater propulsion were embodied in his Holland VI, the first modern submarine, constructed at Elizabethport, New Jersey, in 1897 and commissioned by the U.S. Navy as SS‐1 in 1900. Holland's Electric Boat Company secured navy contracts for five additional submersibles, followed by orders from Great Britain, Russia, and Japan. Simon Lake, Holland's principal design rival, entered mounting international competition with contracts for Russia, Austria, Germany, and in 1911 with the United States. Shuffled aside by Electric Boat management, Holland, father of the American and the British submarine, devoted his final years to aeronautical research.
[See also Submarines.]


Frank T. Cable , The Birth and Development of the American Submarine, 1924.
Richard K. Morris , John Holland, 1841–1914: Inventor of the Modern Submarine, 1966.

Philip K. Lundeberg

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Holland, John

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