Holland Class

Coastal Submarine

  • Holland Class Submarine
  • Holland Class
  • Holland 1
  • Holland 2
  • Holland 3
  • Holland 4
  • Holland 5
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The official title for this class was HM Submarine Torpedo Boat, followed by a number, but in general they were referred to as Holland-1 etc. The 'Holland Class' was the first submarine to enter service with the Royal Navy. They had a complement of 2 officers and 5 ratings, often another rating was carried for training purposes. These submarines were petrol driven which proved to be rather hazardous. There were no interior bulkheads in these boats, very little ventilation and even less in the way of accommodation. No sleeping facilities or toilets, this consisted of a bucket which was emptied on surfacing.

There were 5 of this class built under licence by Vickers of Barrow-in-Furness. The first was Holland1 and although the first to be built she was the last to enter service in the February of 1903.

Although by todays standards these boats were of a very basic design, lessons were learned and difficulties overcome, they were efficient, easily controlled when dived and no crew members were lost. Due to their low profile they were at their best in calm seas. On the whole they were a success.

When all the Hollands were in service they were based at Portsmouth with the submarine tender 'Hazard'. Later they would be moved to Haslar Creek and in 1905 woud be based at Fort Blockhouse supported by HMS Dolphin (this was a hulk of an old sloop) and HMS Mercury.

Various fates befell the Hollands, from sinking enroute to the breakers, to being used as targets. The fates of each individual submarine will be recorded at a later date as the information becomes available. 

The 'Hollands' were fitted with three vertical tubes which were required to ventilate the boat and battery as well as providing additional fresh air for the engine. They had a very low freeboard (four feet from hatch to waterline) which restricted operations to coastal waters and then only in calm conditions. The eventual solution to this was to raise the upper hatch by constructing a conning tower.

The periscope was fitted behind the hatch and had to be braced by wire as it lacked sufficient strength to stand unsupported. The main problem with the periscope was that when looking forward, the object in view was seen upright; when looking on the beam the object was seen on its side and when looking astern the object was seen inverted. The magnetic compass had to be housed in a binnacle on the upper deck as it could not be kept within the all-steel hull of the submarine. When the submarine was dived, the compass was viewed via a small periscope with the compass card illuminated by an electric bulb.

The diving procedure was very slow in these boats, it took anything from 2 to 10 minutes to take a boat from the surface to periscope depth. The design of the 'Hollands' (spindle-hull) was not ideal, however: It had poor longitudinal stability and a low reserve of buoyancy, and was liable to plunge in a swell.

5 Built

Holland 1 - Holland 5
Vickers, Barrow-in-Furness
1901 - 1903


Technical Information

110 sf
122 sm

Length (ft):
63 feet 10 inches oa

Breadth (ft):
11.75 oa

Draught/Height (ft):
9 feet 11 inches.

160 hp Otto petrol engine
74 hp electric motor

Speed (kts):
8.0 sf
7.0 sm

Fuel Supply (tons):

1 x 14 inch tube (bow)
Reloads: 2

250 miles at 8 kts sf.
20 miles at 7 kts  sm.

2 officers and 5 ratings, one additional carried for training purposes