Class: Holland 1 class

Launched: 1901

At: Barrows-in-Furness

Length: 63.44 feet

Beam: 11.9 feet

Displacement: 105 tons submerged

Armament: Up to three 18 inch torpedoes, one torpedo tube.

Crew: Eight men.

Armament: 18 inch torpedo in the tube, two reloads


Royal Navy Submarine Museum

Halar Jetty Road


Hampshire PO12 2AS

Tel: +44 239-252-9217


Latitude: 50.788004953, Longitude: -1.12001190219

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In 1900, when the then-Controller of the Navy declared that submarines were “underhand, underwater, and damned un-English,” he was not alone in his vehement condemnation of the platform as a means of waging war. At that point in history, Britain was the only major maritime power not to have at least an embryonic submarine flotilla, but to find out what all the fuss was about, Holland 1 was built in Barrow under license from the Electric Boat Company. The design by Irish-American John Philip Holland was similar, but not identical to boat accepted by the U.S. Navy. Thus the Royal Navy Submarine Service was born in 1901.

During those pioneering days, the early submariners were in fact struggling with what was little more than an animated mine – a defensive weapon of position to be used to protect our own bases. Equipment was crude, and to put that problem into perspective, the rudimentary optics in our periscopes imaged a target horizontally if it was right ahead, vertically if on the beam, and upside down if astern. This must have made the estimation of target course and speed a most interesting procedure! However, at the time, this was cutting edge technology as was a petrol engine coupled to an electric motor with a massive battery.

The experience of operating Holland 1 stimulated developments that increased range, endurance and firepower of submarines. By the end of her life, submarines had been turned into offensive weapons and formidable opponents.

In 1913 Holland 1 sank while under tow to the scrapyard following decommissioning. She was located in 1981 at a depth of 63 meters and salvaged in 1982. Between 1995 and 2000 extensive conservation measures were applied. In 2001 she opened to the public in a climate controlled gallery.

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