Holland No.1/HMS No.1, Royal Navy`s first submarine

In answer to submarines entering service with foreign navies during the late 1890`s the British Admiralty had reluctantly decided that they should acquire some submarine boats for the purpose of evaluating their potential as a weapon. The most expedient, and cheapest, way to get some boats was to buy manufacturing rights to an existing design. Agreement was made with the Holland Torpedo Boat Company to build boats of Holland No.VII design at Vickers Sons & Maxim Ltd in Barrow-in-Furness.

The boats were built in great secrecy and with direct involvement from the Holland Company. The Admiralty regarded the boats as wholly experimental and extensive trials were carried out. Many developments were made of them and several of these ideas were taken back to the USA. Not least of which was the first application of a periscope to a submarine in order to allow surface vision whilst the boat was submerged, all previous submarines were dependant on porpoising up and down to view through deadlights.

The Holland boats served their purpose well and even before No.5 was completed the `improved Holland type` that was to supersede them was already being built. Only two months after Holland No.5`s launch the first of a new and class, based on the lessons learnt from the Holland boats, was launched and was designated HM Submarine A1. The A Class was a direct evolution from the tiny Holland`s.

No. 1
, the first of this experimental class, was located and salvaged in 1982 and is now displayed at Royal Naval Submarine Museum, Gosport.

Specifications, Holland No.1, Holland VII class:
Keel laid down by Vickers Sons & Maxim Ltd in Barrow-in-Furness on February 4, 1901; launched October 2, 1901; commissioned February 2,1903with Captain Reginald Bacon.
Displacement (srf/sub tons):
Dimensions (L*B*D feet): 63`9*11`10*10`0
Propulsion: powered on the surface by a 190hp 4-cylinder single acting petrol engine driving a single propeller, sixty lead acid cells made up the storage battery which provided power for submerged operations. The engine, motor and tail shaft were connected through friction clutches to permit the motor, 70hp, when driven by the petrol engine as a generator, to recharge the battery.
Speed (srf/sub knots):
Range (srf/sub n/miles@knots): 400@8/30@4
Diving depth (feet): 100
Complement: 2 officers 6 enlisted
Torpedo: 1*18" bow torpedo tube containing a total of 3 Whitehead torpedoes
Mines: none
Armament: none


Only five submarines of this design were ever built, by Vickers Sons & Maxim Ltd in Barrow-in-Furness, in a short period between October 1902 and May 1903. 

Back to History Index 

Image Country Year Description
Liberia 2001 Holland-2,built August 1,1902 by Vickers
United Kingdom 2001 Holland class 1901, SS
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