At the beginning of the 20th Century. The giant battleships of the Royal Navy played a vital role in defending "the Empire". British admirals laughed at the idea that a submarine could be a serious threat to their "grand fleet".
Nevertheless they kept an eye on developments in other countries. Then in 1900 the "wait and see" policy finally came to an end. The Admiralty struck a deal with the American Electric Boat Company to build five Holland design submarines under license at the Vickers Maxim shipyard in Barrow-in-Furness at a cost of £35,000 each. Electric Boat supplied drawings and components for an improved design that was bigger and more powerful than the US Navy's first submarine the Holland Type 6. They also agreed to send some experienced submariners to train the first British crew. Eight months later Britain's first submarine was pushed out of Yacht Shed No. 1 and down the slip way.
" It is understood that no ceremony will take place at the forthcoming launch of the first British submarine at Barrow- in- Furness. The Admiralty regards these boats as wholly in the nature of an experiment and like all other experiments carried out from time to time this one will be carried out with every privacy"
"The launch of Holland I was carried out in secrecy but Holland 2 was given a proper launching ceremony, February 1902".
The Royal Navy Submarine Museum . Haslar Jetty Road . Gosport . Hampshire . PO12 2AS
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