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John P. Holland - The Father of the Modern Submarine - 100th Anniversary Tribute
Custom House Maritime Museum
New London, CT
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John P. Holland was born in County Clare, Ireland on February 24, 1841, the first year of the Irish Famine.   At 17 years he began studying to become a teacher with the Irish Christian Brothers Order. During that time he became fascinated by the U.S. Civil War iron clad vessels. In 1873, with his teacher training incomplete, he emigrated to America. On his arrival in America he was employed as a Mathematics teacher in a parochial school in Paterson, New Jersey. Concurrently, he studied all he could about steel underwater boats.

In 1875, Holland submitted his first submarine design to the U.S. Navy. His proposal was rejected as folly.  Holland approached the Irish-American "Clan na Gael"  Fenian organization for financial support. The Fenians funded Holland to build two boats.  Holland boat #1 was
built in 1873 and boat # 2, which was labeled "The Fenian Ram" by a newspaper reporter, was built in 1881.  The "Ram" design became the basic design for Holland's future boats.  New corporate funding was obtained and in 1893 the "Holland Torpedo Boat Company" was formed.  The Company
launched boat #6 in 1897. In 1899, the Company moved it's operating base to New Suffolk, Long Island, NY, in Peconic Bay.  Also, that year Holland's company became a ubsidiary of The Electric Boat Company; combined, they became the forerunners General Dynamics-Electric Boat, Groton, CT.

On April 11, 1900, the U.S. Navy purchased Holland Boat #6, designated it the USS Holland (SS-1) and it became the Navy's first submarine.  An updated Holland design, the A Boat Class, became the first U.S. Navy submarine fleet.

Holland retired in 1907, and, according to his biographer, Dr, Richard K. Morris, he died "a very poor man" at 73 years of age.  He is buried in Totawa, New Jersey. The Holland #1 and #2 boats are on display in the Paterson (N.J.) Museum. Holland's memorabilia are on file in the
Paterson Museum and in the Nautilus Submarine Museum in Groton, thanks largely to Dr. Morris.

On August 17, Jim Gallagher of the New London AOH will present a tribute to Holland's life and career in the New London Maritime Museum, at 2:00 PM.
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Custom House Maritime Museum (View)
150 Bank Street
New London, CT 06320
United States


Other > Festivals
Other > Technology

Kid Friendly: No
Dog Friendly: No
Non-Smoking: Yes!
Wheelchair Accessible: No


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