- Periodical, RN Navy News
- History - general
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 1984 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The following report on the salvage and restoration of Britain s first submarine, Holland 1, appeared in the January issue of the Royal Navy’s ‘Navy News’.
HOLLAND 1, the Royal Navy’s first submarine, is back where she started after 69 lost years. She was towed from Portsmouth Harbour in 1913 bound for a breakers yard in South Wales, and returned to Gosport on December 15 on the backs of three Army tank transporters.
For most of the intervening years she lay lost on the seabed off Plymouth, put there by a storm which was to save her from the scrapyard.
In April 1981 Holland 1 was located by the minesweeper HMS Bossington, and a long and complicated salvage operation was set in motion. Finally, the 63ft long, cigar-shaped submarine was inched into dry dock at Devonport on November 30.
A day later the dock was drained – to reveal that the little boat was in astonishingly good condition.
Water jets quickly blasted her barnacle- encrusted hull to reveal shiny metal, and the preservation process began.
Cut into three sections, the boat was loaded on the three Army tank transporters for the 290-mile journey to Gosport. She was greeted at the gates of HMS Dolphin by the Director of the RN Submarine Museum, Cdr. Richard Compton-Hall, who masterminded the search and salvage operation.
Now she is in her final resting place, give an inch or two, close to the carefully preserved bulk of the much-younger HMS Alliance. Work has continued on her interior and Vickers, who built her at Barrow-in- Furness 81 years ago, have said they will assist with her ‘refit’.
Work to clean and chemically treat the salvaged hull of Holland 1 is expected to take months and no date has yet been fixed for her full opening to the public.
However, the Royal Navy’s first submarine can be viewed as she lies at her new ‘berth’, high and dry at the RN Museum, HMS Dolphin. The 63ft long hull, neatly cut into three and mounted on a plinth, is in remarkable condition considering that it rested on the seabed for almost 70 years.
To overcome the risk of a second sinking – this time in soft ground – special load support systems were required during the relocation. Ten dozen standard pipeline mats, each 15ft. by 3ft. 4in. were laid to protect underground electric line, telephone cable, water mains and diesel fuel line. The mats were supplied by Sarum Farms Ltd.
In less than a year’s time the submarine should be restored sufficiently to star at the International Boat Show if plans go ahead to display her at Earls Court next January.