John Philip Holland
John Philip Holland, the father of the modern submarine, was born on February 29, 1840 in Liscannor, County Clare, into a family that had survived the Great Potato Famine.
Following his immigration to America in 1873, Holland settled in Paterson, New Jersey where he taught school and, with financial backing from the Irish Fenian Society, began developing his first submarine. In 1881, Holland launched the Fenian Ram, a 31-foot-long submersible powered by a 15-horsepower internal combustion engine. With Holland at the controls, the Ram dived 64 feet beneath New York Harbor that summer, only to be seized by the Fenians when they lost interest in the project. In 1895, the J.P. Holland Torpedo Boat Company, won a contract from the U.S. Navy to build a submarine. After one discouraging failure, the second submarine, the Holland VI, passed her sea trials and was purchased by the U.S. Navy on April 11, 1900 for $150,000.
J.P. Holland is seen here peering from the conning tower of the USS Holland (SS-1).
Image: U.S. Naval Historical Center