USS Holland (SS-1) was the United States Navy's first commissioned submarine, named for her Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland. The boat was originally laid down as "Holland VI", and launched on 17 May 1897.
The work was done at (Ret.) Navy Lt. Lewis Nixon's Crescent Shipyard of Elizabeth, New Jersey for John Holland's company, then known as the Holland Torpedo Boat Company. The craft was built under the supervision of John Holland who designed the vessel and its details in unison with the Crescent Shipyard's chief constructor/naval architect, Arthur Leopold Busch. A recent emigre to the United States from Great Britain, Busch subsequently played an integral role in the development of the modern naval submarine. After meeting Holland in 1896, Busch had essentially taken Holland's sketches and ideas and transformed them into blueprints and steel.
The keel to this craft was laid at this time with both men present at the scene located at Nixon's Crescent Shipyard. The two men worked together using many of John Holland's proven concepts and patents to make the submarine a reality, both men complementing each others contributions to the development of the modern submarine.
The Holland VI eventually proved its validity and worthiness as a warship and was ultimately purchased by the American Government for the sum of $150,000.00 on 11 April 1900. It was considered to be the first truly successful craft of its type. The United States Government soon ordered more submarines from Holland's company, which were to be known as . These became America's first fleet of underwater naval vessels.
Holland, along with six other Holland-type submarines, were based in New Suffolk, New York on the North Fork of Long Island between 1899 and 1905, prompting the hamlet to claim to be the "First Submarine Base" in the United States.
The success of the submarine was instrumental in the founding of the Electric Boat Company - now known as the General Dynamics Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamics Corporation. The company can trace its origins to this point with these events, beginning with the formation of John Philip Holland's original company and the revolutionary submarines that were developed at this shipyard.
The Holland VI was modified since its christening, and was renamed USS Holland (SS-1) when it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy on October 12, 1900, at Newport, Rhode Island, with Lieutenant Harry H. Caldwell in command.
The USS Holland was the first commissioned submarine in the United States Navy and is the first of the unbroken line of submarines in the Navy. It was the third submarine to be owned by the Navy however. (The first such submarine was the Submarine Propeller (aka ) while the second was the Intelligent Whale.)
On October 16 1900, in order to be kept serviceable throughout the winter, Holland left Newport under tow of tug Leyden for Annapolis, Maryland, where she was used to train midshipmen of the United States Naval Academy, as well as officers and enlisted men ordered there to receive training vital in preparing for the operation of other submarines being built for the Fleet.
Holland proved valuable for experimental purposes in collecting data for submarines under construction or contemplation. Her surface run from Annapolis to Norfolk, Virginia, January 8 to January 10, 1901, provided useful data on her performance underway over an extended period.
Except for the period June 15 to October 1, 1901, which was passed training cadets at the Naval Torpedo Station, Newport, Rhode Island, Holland remained at Annapolis until July 17, 1905, as a training submarine.
Holland finished out her career at Norfolk, Virginia. Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on November 21, 1910. She was sold as scrap to Henry A. Hitner & Sons, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on June 18, 1913 for one hundred dollars. Her purchaser was required to put up $5,000 bond as assurance that the submarine would be broken up and not used as a ship.