Report of Trial of Holland Submarine Boat.



WASHINGTON, November 12, 1898


1.The Board appointed by the Department’s order of November 4, 1898, for the purpose of inspecting the sub- marine boat Holland, has the honor to make the following report.

2.  A copy of the above mentioned order is herewith appended marked "A."

3.  In obedience to the provisions of this order, the Board after preliminary arrangement with the Holland Company, was convened at 10:30 A. M. on November 12, 1989, at pier A, North River, New York, - present all members and the recorder - and immediately embarked on a tug which transported them to the foot of 50th Street, South Brooklyn, where the Holland was lying moored to dock.

4.   The Board decided that the first item of the programme for the day should be the firing of a torpedo.  A White- head of 17.7 inches was placed in the tube by means of a cage lowered from the dock and thus introducing the torpedo from the outside, an awkward but necessary arrangement.  The time required was 20 minutes for placing the torpedo in the tube, 20 minutes for draining the tube and torpedo and 4 minutes for charging.  The torpedo was charged for 1,000 lbs. and set for 5 feet.  The placing and charging of the torpedo was superintended by Lieutenant W. J. Sears, U. S. N., who had come from the Bliss Torpedo Factory for the purpose.  There was considerable delay in making the adjustments, etc., partly on account of the lubricating oil being frozen, and partly because the rear end of the torpedo tube is so near the deck that when the torpedo is pulled inboard the tail piece takes against the deck.  This should be remedied.

5.   At 12:45 P. M. the Holland shoved off from the dock and started down the harbor, followed by the tug containing the members of the Board.  On board the Holland were five members of her crew, Chief Engineer John Lowe, U. S. N., Naval Cadet H. J. Elson, U. S. N., and Lieutenant Nathan Sargent, U. S. N., the recorder of the Board, this making eight souls in all.  The boat started out under an electric motive power and on the surface of the water, that is, having only her natural submersion, under which circumstance her conning tower and about 18 inches of the upper framework, built so as to afford a flat footing above the round hull, was out of the water. At 12:56 the torpedo was fired with a pressure of 50 lbs. and with the boat underway at a speed of some 5.3 knots, the electric motor at the time making 275 revolutions.  The torpedo ran near the surface and with several breaches, for a distance of some 300 yards, and was picked up by a launch sent for the purpose.

6.   At 1:05 after some slight difficulty in getting the engine started, the Holland went ahead under her gasoline engine, which was used until 2:20, when Princess Bay, near Sandy Hook was reached.  During this run the engine made about 300 revolutions, equal to a speed of 6 knots.

7.   Preparations were now made for diving by submerging the boat, some twenty minutes being occupied in filling the forward, main and after tanks and in getting the boat in proper trim for diving.  This length of time was due to the inexperience of the man running the boat and not to any trouble with the mechanism which functioned perfectly, the tanks being filled in the space of one minute each.  The motive power was now changed from gasoline to electric.

8.   From 2:40 to 3:10 a number of dives were made, ballast shifted or water blown from tanks or let in, with the view of putting the boat in proper trim for a long dive, the duration of the dives being as follows:

1st dive  1 minute

2nd dive 2 minutes

3rd dive 0 minutes 15 seconds

4th dive 4 minutes 15 seconds

5th dive 4 minutes 15 seconds

6th dive 0 minutes 30 seconds

7th dive 0 minutes 40 seconds

8th dive 10 minutes 20 seconds

9th dive 0 minutes 20 seconds

10th dive0 minutes 10 seconds

11th dive 2 minutes 35 seconds

12th dive 4 minutes 10 seconds

13th dive 4 minutes 10 seconds

14th dive 1 minutes 10 seconds

15th dive 0 minutes 15 seconds

16th dive 0 minutes 50 seconds

17th dive 0 minutes 15 seconds

18th dive 0 minutes 50 seconds

19th dive 0 minutes 30 seconds

The maximum depth attained in diving was 15 feet, and in the long ten minutes dive an even depth of 7 feet was maintained for the greater part of the time.  The boat decidedly proved her ability to dive, but much time was wasted in balancing her preparatory to diving, and when this began it was noticed that the boat broached often.  Both of these objectionable features were evidently due to inexperience on the part of the crew.  The boat is caused to dive and come up by the action of her horizontal rudders, which are moved by a compressed air steering engine.  If the valve of this engine is delicately manipulated, the boat, if properly trimmed, should be kept at a desired depth without trouble, but the tendency of all inexperienced operators would be to feel a little nervous as the boat inclines downward, and to reverse the valve too rapidly, thereby bringing her up again with a rush. This was the case in this trial, but can easily be remedied by experience.  The maximum inclination was 12° by the head and 3° by the stern.

9.   After the ten minute dive Lieutenant Sargent left the Holland and his place was taken by Commander W. H. Emory, U. S. N., the junior member of the Board.

10.   At 3.57, the diving being finished, the water was blown out of the forward and main ballast tanks and at 4.11 the boat started homeward under her gas engine, arriving off her dock about 6 P. M.

11.   The consumption of electricity from the storage battery was shown by fall of voltage from 124 at start to 118 at finish.  The lowest point to which it is desirable to go with the battery is 104 volts, so that enough voltage was left for four hours more run, and in an emergency this could have been exceeded.  The time for recharging the storage battery - which is done by means of the gasoline engine and dynamo - is from eight to ten hours.

12.   During the time - from 12.20 to 3.22 - that the boat was submerged for diving, the scuttle of the conning tower was necessarily hermetically closed, but for this whole hour the air seemed perfectly good, it being refreshed from time to time by the discharge of air from the exhausts of the steering and diving engines.

13.   The boat seems to steer wildly.  Whether this is due to sluggishness of the compass, which is very small, or to inexperience on the part of the man in the conning tower, could not be determined.

14.   With regard to the requirements for the Holland as laid down by the War Board and the Bureau of Construc- tion at various times, the Board met on Sunday, the 13th instant, heard the testimony of Chief Engineers Lowe and Zane, Lieutenant Sears, Naval Cadet Evans, all of whom had been down in the boat, and considered the experience of the trial the day before.  From all of the above they concluded as follows, upon the clauses of the different require- ments:

  1. Ability to run awash at good speed, established.
  2. Ability to dive and rise readily and with certainty, established.
  3. Ability to run under water at depths from 10 to 35 feet at 6 knots, the boat holding a steady course both in the vertical and horizontal planes during said runs, which are to be each not less than ten minutes in duration, not es- tablished.  Steering was very erratic and boat unable to maintain position under water for more than a few minutes at a time.  We believe, however, that this was owing to the inexperience of crew.
  4. Ability to turn both to starboard and port with reasonable quickness and certainty, steering gear working well, etc., the mechanism for controlling the diving apparatus to be equally efficient and satisfactory.  The boat turns quickly, but the steering and diving gear did not work satisfactorily, owing, we believe, to the inexperience of the crew.
  5. The mechanism for raising and lowering the boat in the water and for altering her trim, worked satisfac- torily and was certain in its action.
  6. The apparatus for insuring a steady course during the run below water was not used.  That for securing a steady course on the surface worked very satisfactorily.
  7. Rate of speed above water about 6 knots.

    Rate of speed under water about 4 knots.

  8. Steadiness of movement in horizontal and vertical plane, unsatisfactory.
  9. Facility for turning, good.  Tactical diameter not ascertained.
  10. The boat is strongly constructed.  Torpedo discharge appears satisfactory.
  11. Air supply was good and ample.
  12. Boat was able to make surface run of reasonable length, and we believe can be made to run under water 4 to 5 miles, though she failed to do two miles on this trial.
  13. Radius of action both on the surface and submerged, we believe to be satisfactory.
  14. She can carry food for crew for twenty-four hours.
  15. Can discharge service torpedo.
  16. Ability to recharge storage battery by means of her own dynamo and gas engine, satisfactory.
  17. Ability to anchor satisfactory.
  18. Range of aerial gun not ascertained.
  19. Men can remain on board for reasonable time.

15.   In view of the fact that from want of practice in handling the boat and the torpedo in connection with it, the company was not prepared to comply with the requirements of the Board, it is recommended that another trial be made under more systematic conditions, with a trained crew, with more preparations for the trial properly made before- hand, and particularly with the following details carried out:

(A)  Have three torpedoes in place.

(B)   Have all arrangements made for discharging torpedoes without delay.

(C)   Be prepared to fire torpedo at full speed when submerged as well as when at full speed on surface

(D)  Have crew exercised by actual practice so as to be able to make required submerged runs and steer a straight course.  In order to make a trial submerged run of two miles, it is recommended that two marking buoys be placed in lower or Sandy Hook Bay a mile apart, and that a boat to serve as torpedo target be anchored near one of these buoys, so that the Holland after running a mile under water can come up to surface for observation, discharge her torpedo and then diving again can return to the first buoy.  This would complete her two mile under water run.  A measure of her efficiency will be shown by the number of times it is necessary for her to come to the surface for observation.

(E)   The buoys necessary for the above runs could readily be placed in proper positions before the trial by the Light House tender of the New York District.


(Signed)           FRED’K RODGERS

Captain, U. S. N., Pres. Of Bd.

(Signed)           CIPRIANO ANDRADE

Chief Engineer, U. S. N., Mem.

(Signed)           R. D. EVANS

Captain, U. S. N., member

(Signed)           W. H. EMORY,

Commander, U. S. N., member

(Signed)           N. SARGENT,

Lieutenant, U. S. N., Recorder,

The Secretary of the Navy.