USS Holland Electrical System


Computer Model of Electrical Components

Computer Model of the Electrical System

The USS Holland electrical system consisted of the following equipment:

A Battery

The battery consisted of 60 cells. Each cell consisted of a lead lined wooden box with 8 positive and 9 negative plates suspended in sulpheric acid. The battery capacity was 1500 amp-hours. The battery could be charged using the main dynamo or from an outside source.1
B Switchboard
The switchboard is modeled based on a description and photo of the switchboard installed in the type 7 boats adjusted for a two cylinder engine instead of a four cylinder engine.
C Starting Box for Auxiliary Motor
The assumption is that this panel contain a series of switches and resistors similar to those provided for the propulsion motor.
D Auxiliary Motor
This 10 H.P. motor powered the air compressor and the bilge pump.
E Reostat for Auxiliary Motor
This reostat controlled the speed of the auxiliary motor and consequently the speed of the air compressor and/or bilge pump.
F Reostat for Propulsion Motor
This reostat controlled the speed of the propulsion motor. The electrician's post was immediately forward of this reostat. In order to get to his post, the electrician had to climb over the flywheel for the gas engine.
G 50 HP Electro-Dynamic Dynamotor
This piece of machinery doubled as an electric motor for submerged propulsion and a generator for recharging the battery. The specification describes it as "Electric, waterproof type, 50 hp (nominal) with two communtators. Capable of developing 160 hp. 900 rpm". This motor was badly damaged when the Holland sank at the dock, and shorted out several times between 1900 and 1905 due to moisture in the insulation or deterioration of the thin slices of mica used as insulation between the commutator bars.
H Ventilation Fan (not shown)
According to Charles Morris, "there [was] a 1/8 H.P. motor for ventilating and operating an exhaust pump for exhausting air from the vessel when making long submerged runs"2 Unfortunately, this fan and motor do not appear on the record plan available from the National Archives.
I Lighting System (not shown)
According to the specification, the Holland lighting system was "arranged to distribute light to various points of the ship. Portable incandescent lamps being used."3 There appears to be a light fixture in the background of the Reuterdahl sketch of the engine room. Light fixtures were added to the computer model based on this sketch and the shadows that appear in the other three Reuterdahl sketches. (See A Look Inside)
J Wiring (not shown)
The wiring was "of the best insulated wire, installed with view of insulating system from the hull of the ship. In no case is the hull used as a return on a circuit."4


  1. "Specification of Submarine Torpedo Boat Holland, Known as Hull No. 6"
  2. Morris, Charles A.,"Descriptive Specification of the Submarine Holland VI". 1899.
  3. "Specification of Submarine Torpedo Boat Holland, Known as Hull No. 6"
  4. Ibid.


Copyright 1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue

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