Friday, May 6, 2011

"underhand, unfair and damned un-English" - Irishman's sub to receive award

HMS Holland One
The Royal Navy's first submarine, designed by an Irish man, is to be honoured as one of 'Britain's' greatest engineering feats.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is to present the Holland One its Heritage Award.

The craft was designed by John Philip Holland an Irishman and former Christian Brother who emigrated to America in the early 1870's. His early designs for the first modern submarine were prepared while teaching in Irish schools. More about Holland in this earlier post.

The award means that this Irish invention will join the ranks of the Thames Barrier and the famous Bletchley Park code-breaking machine as one of the major 'British' engineering successes.

The Holland One was launched in 1901 (the Americans had launched the USS Holland in 1897) despite the then head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson describing the craft as "underhand, unfair and damned un-English".
Spokesperson for the Institution of Mechanical Engineers told the London Evening Standard: "Ironically, Holland had originally received the financial backing needed to develop his submarines from the Irish Fenian Society, who wanted to use the vessels to carry out hit-and-run terrorist attacks on the Royal Navy.

"Holland's great technological innovation was marrying the internal combustion engine with the electric motor and electric battery, all in one hydro-dynamic machine. This would set the standard for submarines across the world for decades to come.

"After Holland One's secret launch a year later, the boat had 12 years of experimental service before being decommissioned in 1913."

The Holland One is now preserved at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire after being discovered and salvaged by Navy minesweepers at the bottom of the English Channel in 1981. It had rested there since it sank upon hitting a storm on its way to be scrapped.

John Philip Holland will be commemorated at a special event at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NCMI) this Saturday (7th May). More details of the event here. The event is now oversubscribed, but it will be streamed live on the NCMI website from (approx) 2pm.


  © Communicate Science; Blogger template 'Isolation' by 2012

Back to TOP