In his book John P. Holland: Inventor of the Modern Submarine, Richard K. Morris described the first Navy trials as follows:
"It was raining on the Sunday morning [March 27, 1898] when Frost arrived at Perth Amboy with Lieutenant Nathan Sargent, who had been sent by the Board of Auxiliary Vessels to inspect the submarine. Again the tug Erie served as a tender and at the insistence of the lieutenant, only Company officials were allowed on board. The choppy water on the Sound forced Holland to close the hatch to keep heavy spray from being driven below as the submarine first ran through paces awash. Dressed in heavy-weather gear and standing alone in the prow of the escort vessel, Sargent watched the submarine disappear, staffs and all, beneath the Sound. When the vessel surfaced again and Holland opened the hatch, Lieutenant Sargent waved congratulations to the submarine’s skipper; and the little flotilla headed back for the Raritan docks."1
In a report to Captain Frederick Rodgers the following day, Lieutenant Sargent reported that "the steering qualities were not as good as they should be, she being sluggish in response to her helm" and "the boat fully proved her ability to propel herself, to dive, come up, admit water to her ballast tanks, and eject it again without difficulty."2
The official Navy response came in a letter to the Holland Torpedo Boat Company from the Secretary of the Navy, John Long.
NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, May 3, 1898.
JOHN D. LONG,
THE JOHN HOLLAND TORPEDO BOAT CO.,
25 Pine Street, New York City, N. Y.3
The second set of trials were held November 12, 1898. The Board of Inspection and Survey consisted of Captain Frederick Rodgers, Chief Engineer Cipriano Andrade, Captain R. D. "Fighting Bob" Evans, Commander W. H. Emory, and Lieutenant Nathan Sargent. The trial began with loading and firing a torpedo while alongside the dock. A second torpedo was fired while running on the surface. Later, the Holland VI performed a series of dives lasting up to 10 minutes and reaching a maximum depth of 15 feet. The boat performed well in all respects except one. The Board reported that "Steering was very erratic and boat unable to maintain position under water for more than a few minutes at a time."4
Major modifications were necessary, but the Holland Torpedo Boat Company was short on funds. Soon after the March trials, the company began its search for additional investors. They invited Isaac L. Rice for a visit. Rice had established a virtual monopoly in the storage battery business and became interested in submarines as a market for his storage batteries. He visited the Holland VI in dry-dock on July 4, 1898 and took "a dip" in the boat on September 3. In the fall of 1898, Isaac Rice agreed to finance the necessary modifications.
On June 5, 1899, the Holland Torpedo Boat Company moved their operation to the Goldsmith and Tuthill Yard in New Suffolk, Long Island and laid out a trial course in Little Peconic Bay - far removed from the marine traffic of New York City.
The third set of Navy trials were held on November 6, 1899. The Board of Inspection and Survey consisted of Rear-Admiral Frederick Rodgers, Commander W. H. Emory, Commander C. R. Roelker, Naval Constructor W. L. Capps and Lieutenant-Commander T. J. Henderson. After a thorough inspection of the boat, the Holland VI proceeded to the trial course in Little Peconic Bay. When the signal was given, the Holland VI dove to a depth of five feet and traveled approximately one mile before surfacing. Upon surfacing, the Holland VI made a course correction, fired a torpedo which passed within 70 feet of the target, turned and dove again. The Holland VI traveled the one mile back to the beginning of the course broaching the surface for a total of 28 seconds to take bearings. After returning to the beginning of the course, the torpedo tube was reloaded and fired while running submerged at full speed. The Board reported that the Holland VI fulfilled the requirements set forth in the report of November 12, 1898.
John Lowe Report on Trials dated 14 Nov 1898
John Lowe Report on Trials dated 19 July 1899
John Lowe Report on Trials dated 7 Nov 1899
Board of Inspection Report on Trials dated 9 Nov 1899
ÓCopyright 1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue