At the turn of the 20th century
At the turn of the 20th century and until World War I we find the navies of later on aggressors getting them selves familiar and procuring the new weapon of war, busy in establishing their first submarine flotilla, running it and inventing new tactics for it.
That period saw a number of innovations in military submarines. An advanced hull shape to allow it to move more efficiently through the seas, the development of diesel engines by Rudolf Diesel (1858-1913), a battery-powered electric motor for submerged operations, self propelled torpedo fired from a reload able tube, improved periscopes and the develop of wireless technology.
On April 11, 1900 the US Navy bought Holland VI commissioned on June 25, as USS Holland, S-1 becoming the first US Navy submarine. In August, Congress ordered six more Holland submarines. All six boats Fulton and Plunger type were commissioned from January through September of 1903.
In the next coming years more of Holland’s designs, based on the Fulton type, were built, by Holland’s Electric Boat Company, and delivered to US Navy known to be `B` and `C` classes.
In 1909 Simon Lake received his first US Navy contract. An inveterate tinkerer, Lake proved unable to keep his hands off a design even when a boat was nearly finished, and he delivered the first submarine he managed to sell to the US Navy Seal, laid down in February 1909, over two years late.
Was to be the first international customer for a Holland, the ship building company of Vickers was the licensee which would build the boats for Britain. By October1900 the British had five Hollands VIII on order. The first boat to be launched in October 2, 1901was named Holland No. I. Following retirement in 1913 No. I sank undertow en route to the breaker’s yard, found and recovered in 1981, she was put on public display at the Gosport Submarine Museum, near Portsmouth.
After gaining some experience with the Hollands the Royal Navy, through Vickers headed by Cap. R. Bacon, went on ordering and building the `A`, `B`, and `C` classes and later on the `Ds` and `Es` until the eve of World War I.
After Narval , design by Laubeuf and launched in 1900, in 1901 President of France Emil Loubet became the first chief executive to go for a submerged ride. He did so in full formal dress, frock coat and all, aboard the Gustav Zede. Three months later, on maneuvers 300 miles from her base, the Gustav Zede put a practice torpedo into the side of the moving battleship Charles Martel, to the reported `general stupefaction` of those aboard the battleship. Submarines had become so popular in France that the newspaper Le Matin orchestrated a public fund-raising drive to build submarines for the Navy: Francais, launched in 1901 and Algerien, launched in 1902.
The French submarine building programme was ambitious and they were in many respects more advanced then anyone else. But there was still a dependence on steam in the larger submarines. The initial combustion engine was introduced in boats designed by Romazzotti, Maugas and Bertin but they continued to have problems with this form of power.
In 1902 the German Navy rebuffed Spanish submarine designer Raimondo Lorenzo D`Equevilley, who was looking for work. Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz went on record saying, "The submarine is, at present, of no great value in war at sea. We have no money to waste on experimental vessels." D`Equevilley took his plans to the Krupp Germania shipyard, which built the 40-foot Forelle (Trout) on speculation. Powered only by electricity and, like the French Gymnote, lacking an underway recharging system, Forelle was not a practical warship, though Kaiser Wilhelm II was impressed and his brother, an admiral, even took a ride.
D`Equevilley turned his hand to marketing, publishing a book (in Germany) in which he traced the history of submarines. "As exaggerated as it may sound," he wrote, "who knows whether the appearance of undersea boats may put an end to naval battles?" Krupp worked on a larger, improved design, the Karp class, powered by a gasoline engine on the surface and bearing an onboard battery recharging system. Russia ordered three. The German Navy ordered one, but asked for a kerosene rather than gasoline engine.
In 1906 Germany launches U-1, the first U-Boat (for Unterseeboot). This modified Karp was 139 feet long, displaced 239 tons, and had a range of 2,000 miles, a surface speed of 11 knots, and a submerged speed of nine knots. It was joined in 1908 by a twin, U-2. By this time, the French had a submarine force of 60 boats, the British almost as many. Germany finally took notice.
In 1912 Germany began to get serious about submarines with the "30s" series, U-31 to U-41. Displacing 685 tons, these diesel-powered boats carried six torpedoes and one 88mm deck gun. They had a maximum range of 7,800 miles at eight knots and boasted a surface speed of 16.4 knots and a submerged speed of 9.7 knots.
In 1904 Simon Lake, not succeeding to sell any of his designs to the U.S. Navy, was desperately short of cash, grabbed the opportunity to sell Protector to Russia, at that time in war with Japan. Protector was renamed Oestr and taken by railroad cars from the Baltic to the Pacific. Later on that year Holland’s Fulton was also bought by the Russian to assist in the war against Japan.
In 1904 J.P. Holland, squeezed out of management and increasingly ignored, resigned from Electric Boat and formed John P. Holland`s Submarine Boat Company. He sold plans for two larger, improved submarines, to be built in Kobe, Japan, under the supervision of a Hollandassociate. One achieved a remarkable underwater speed of 16 knots, about twice that of the five earlier Holland models in Japan.
Several other countries had purchased the Holland design and these included Norway and Japan. Italy and Sweden were developing their own boats at the time and others such as Austria, The Nederland, Portugal and Peru were showing interest.