First Navy Submarine Gets Award

The first operational Royal Navy submarine is to be honoured today as one of Britain's "greatest engineering feats" with the presentation of a prestigious award.

Holland One, which was launched in 1901, is to be granted the Institution of Mechanical Engineers' Heritage Award at its home at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.

This places the submarine, which when it was first launched was described as "un-English", up with the top echelon of British engineering with other previous award-winners including the world's first rail locomotive, the Thames Barrier and Bletchley Park's Bombe code-breaking machine.

Holland One was commissioned despite the Royal Navy's traditional mistrust of submarine warfare.

Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, then controller of the Navy, described it as "underhand, unfair and damned un-English".

However, in 1900 the Royal Navy secretly placed an order with submarine pioneer John Philip Holland.

James Fulker, spokesman for the institution, said:

"Ironically, Holland had originally received the financial backing needed to develop his submarines from the Irish Fenian Society, who wanted to use the vessels to carry out hit-and-run terrorist attacks on the Royal Navy.

"Holland's great technological innovation was marrying the internal combustion engine with the electric motor and electric battery, all in one hydro-dynamic machine.

"This would set the standard for submarines across the world for decades to come.

"After Holland One's secret launch a year later, the boat had 12 years of experimental service before being decommissioned in 1913."

However, while being towed to the scrap yard, Holland hit stormy weather and sank.

It remained at the bottom of the Channel for 68 years before the Royal Navy Submarine Museum, working with Navy mine sweepers, discovered and salvaged the wreck in 1981 before putting it on permanent display.