John Philip Holland was an Irish mathematician who came to America in 1873. During the 1870s, he developed basic designs for submarine boats. The Holland I, a test vessel, was operated in the Passaic River above the Great Falls . The Holland II, a true submersible boat, was built in New York Harbor . That ship, thirty-one feet long, and weighing 19 tons, contained all elements that form a modern submersible boat.
In 1881, the Holland II was launched. It had a torpedo tube that could discharge a six foot long, Whitehead, torpedo. It was operated by a crew of three men and, on one occasion, submerged to a depth of 65 feet for 2 ½ hours. She was propelled, on the surface, by a Brayton gasoline engine. Underwater, the engine was shut-down.
John Holland designed and built six, small submersible boats between 1866 and 1898. The last unit was purchased by the Navy in 1900 and was renamed the USS Holland. The Fenian Ram (1881), displayed at the Paterson Museum , is the first “true” submarine built anywhere. Seldom does the “first” model of any invention survive for any appreciable time. The Fenian Ram is an exception to that rule. It has been moored in the Paterson Museum since 1926.