Happy (belated) birthday, bubbleheads!
It was on April 11, 111 years ago, that the Navy purchased its first fully submersible vessel, Holland VI, from inventor John Holland. The 64-ton sub cost $150,000 and was christened the SS-1 Holland. Powered by a gasoline engine, it could make could make roughly 2 knots submerged, had a crew of six and carried torpedoes, according to the book “Submarine: The Ultimate Naval Weapon – Its Past, Present and Future.”
One hundred and eleven years later, subs are still integral to national defense. Ballistic subs bear more than half of the nation’s nuclear weapons, keeping potential adversaries at bay. And attack submarines serve in a variety of missions, including shielding carrier battle groups from their spookiest threat: diesel boats.
Meanwhile, sub ops are high. As of Thursday, two-thirds of attack subs were away from the pier and nearly half were on deployment. In operations against the Gadhafi regime, two attack subs and one guided-missile sub fired the lion’s share of the cruise missiles. That, too, has a historical precedent.
During World War II, the Barb bombarded Japanese coastal cities with rockets in the first sub-launched strike mission ashore.