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Pondering through the annuals of your mind, the last thing you could ever imagine is that there is a large amount of submarine history in the great state of New Jersey. Places like Groton, Norfolk, San Diego and Pearl Harbor conjure up images of famous naval vessels, but Paterson, Totowa or Hackensack, New Jersey ? These places bring thoughts of silk, guns, textiles and other post-revolutionary industrial history. Believe it or not, the City of Paterson is where the modem submarine began.

John Philip Holland, 1he Fa1her of the Modern Submarine, started his career as a school teacher in Paterson, but was always fascinated with the concept of the submerging vessel. In 1878 Holland completed his first design which was simply named HOLLAND 1, and was 14 feet 6 inches in length. The submersible weighed 2.25 tons. She was first tested by Holland in the Passaic River that runs through Paterson. During her trials, she ran at approximately 3.5 knots, and could remain submerged for about one hour with a crew of one.

Unfortunately, HOLLAND 1 was not of the caliber the inventor wanted, but this vessel did teach Holland many different things that would be incorporated into his later designs. Each submarine that Holland created was really a learning experience until HOLLAND 6, which was finally purchased by the United States Navy in 1900 to become the first vessel in the American Submarine Force.

Holland was afraid of competition after the testing of HOLLAND 1. The submersible was scuttled secretly in the Passaic River and was not found until a few years ago by complete accident. To this day the small sail is still missing, waiting for the day it shall be recovered.

HOLLAND 1 and her sister ship, HOLLAND 2, are on permanent display at the Paterson Museum in the Thomas Rogers Building at 2 Market Street, Paterson, New Jersey. The phone number is (201) 881-3874. The museum is open to the public Tuesdays through Fridays from 10 AM to 4 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays 12:30 PM to 4:30 PM.

HOLLAND 2, also known by some as The Fenian Ram is on display next to her sister. It is from this design that we could see creation of the modem submarine-a vast change in design in only a three year period. The Fenian Ram is 31 feet long. She has a gross weight of 19.5 tons, and was capable of sustaining a crew of three for varying amounts of time. Her maximum speed was approximately 9 knots.

This vessel gave Holland the direction he needed to sell his first submarine nine years later. The museum also has the most complete collection of notes, letters, drawings, diagrams and specifications belonging to John Holland on display anywhere.

Not far from the museum is the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, located in Totowa, New Jersey. Next to this beautiful old church is the final resting place of John P. Holland. The grave is looked after by the members of the Submarine Vets, Inc. of Northern New Jersey. A few years back funds were raised to give Mr. Holland a memorial tombstone with the famous copy of him emerging from one of his designs wearing his distinctive derby. This cemetery is also open to the public and is located approximately 10 minutes from the Paterson museum.

Unlike the Paterson museum, the New Jersey Naval Museum does not receive funds from any municipality, state or federal entity. This museum, which is located along the banks of the Hackensack River in the City of Hackensack on the comer of River and Court Streets, is home to the World War II submarine USS LING (SS 297). This museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM Wednesday through Sunday, but the facility is used by veteran and reserve organizations after hours. Any funds used by the museum are a result of tours, grants or donations of money and materials.

The most unlikely sponsor, but the most recently generous to our cause has been the Home Depot store #909 located in Rosbury, New Jersey. Their concern for history and maintaining a permanent record of our American past has been unmatched. With their help LING and our missile collection have gotten a much needed facelift, malting this museum not only enjoyable to history buffs but to American’s youths, inspiring several to enlist in the Navy’s Submarine Force.

The museum had a beginning unlike most others. Members of the Submarine Memorial Association of Hackensack, New Jersey asked if they could have a vintage World War II submarine torpedo to set up a memorial to all the fallen submariners. The request came back from Washington approved, but the torpedo would come with the submarine also. To everybody’s amazement, USS LING (SS 297) was coming to downtown Hackensack from its last tour of active duty as a training submarine at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. This happened as a result of an act of Congress, 28 June 1972, and on 13 January 1973 LING arrived at Borg Park for her current berth.

It was almost fate that brought LING to New Jersey. Any avid fisherman could tell you that SS 297 was not named after a famous Chinese battle but after a fish also known as red haddock found off the coast of New Jersey.

Funds were raised and LING was brought back to pristine vintage condition, as it is in today. Today efforts are underway to personalize the interior of the boat by including pictures, bed rolls, coo~are, etc. All contributions, whether financial or of authentic memorabilia, would be greatly appreciated. Remember this is a non-profit, tax exempt organization that relies solely on donations and fund raising. Please call (201) 342-3268 or write: Submarine Memorial Association, P.O. Box 375, Hackensack, New Jersey 07862.

LING comes from a proud family of submarines. She was one of the 119 Batao class submarines that made up the bulk of the American Submarine Force up until the 1960s when nuclear power became the choice of propulsion. This class was not much different from the previous Gato class except that the Balao class (thick skin) had a high tensile steel hull compared with the mild steel of the (thin skin) Gato class. This helped the submarine reach an operating depth of 400 feet compared to the previous 300 feet and helped the submarine while being depth charged.

The building yards for these submarines were: Portsmouth-44, Electric Boat-40, Manitowac-14, Cramp-10, Mare Island-9, and Boston-2. The Balao class was built with eight compartments and the conning tower giving them an overall length of 311 feet 8 inches and a maximum breadth of 27 feet 3 inches. Submerged they displaced 2415 tons compared to surfaced 1525 tons. They had a rated fuel capacity of 116,000 gallons helping them obtain an endurance for a 75 day patrol period.

The Balao class had four main generator engines which gave them a maximum submerged speed of 8.75 knots and a surface speed of 20.25 knots. At 10 knots they had a surface cruising range of 11,000 miles while carrying a crew of 10 officers and 70 enlisted.

These formidable weapons of war had 10 torpedo tubes-6 forward, 4 aft-while carrying a loadout of up to 24 torpedoes or two mines for every one torpedo. Topside these vessels had either one 4″/50 cal. or 5″/125 cal. originally.

Unfortunately for LING, she was completed too late for a tour of duty in World War II against the Japanese due to construction problems at the Cramp Shipyard of Philadelphia. Her keel was first laid on 2 November 1942 and she was launched on 15 August 1943. With the problems of Cramp construction, the Navy removed LING and three other boats, USS LANCETFISH (SS 296), USS LIONFISH (SS 298) and USS MANTA (SS 299) and sent them to be completed at the Boston and Portsmouth ship-yards.

LING was completed and commissioned at the Boston Shipyard on 8 June 1945. She sailed, under the command of Commander G.G. Molumphy, to the Caribbean Sea headed for the Panama Canal when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan, ending World War II. LING returned to New London until she was decommissioned on 26 October 1946.

LING slept quietly until she was brought back into service as a reserve training vessel for Naval Reserve Division 2-23 and 3-55 at NRT Brooklyn, New York from March 1960 through 30 June 1971. On 1 December 1962 she lost her designation of (SS) and received her (AGSS) designation. After training numerous reserve submariners for duty aboard a submarine, she was finally stricken from the Navy roster on 1 December 1971.

LING might not have the same historical significance as some of the more famous submarines of the past, but LING is here today as a reminder of what was accomplished by submariners of the past and what shall be done by submariners of today and tomorrow.

To give you an idea of what submarines did during World War II, the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II published these statistics:
“Many U.S. submarine veterans feel that their activities were not made public enough to let the population know how much they accomplished during World War II. Less than two percent of U.S. sailors served in submarines, yet that small percentage sank 201 Japanese warships, including: 1 battleship, 4 large aircraft carriers, 4 small aircraft carriers, 3 heavy cruisers, 8 light cruisers, 43 destroyers, 23 large submarines and 1113 merchant ships of more than 500 tons.
In all our submarines sank more than 55 percent of all ships sunk. More than surface ships, Navy air and the Air Corp combined. Our submarines did all that plus they laid mines, hauled ammunition, transported troops, rescued refugees, deployed secret agents, delivered guerrilla leaders, and rescued 504 fliers, including President George Bush. The worst statistic of all is that submariners had the highest loss rate of any Navy unit.”

It is for these reasons that these submarine memorials need to be maintained and preserved. These vessels symbolize the unselfish accomplishments of submariners and the proud history of not only the Submarine Force, but that of the entire United States Navy. Every time you pass through Northern New Jersey I hope that you remember that it all started here with John Holland, the father of the modem submarine.

On 4 December 1994, a Pearl Harbor memorial service was held at Borg Park, where LING is moored, honoring the fallen during the sneak attack upon Pearl Harbor. The two main guest speakers, Rear Admiral A.H. Konetzni, Jr., COMSUBGRU SEVEN, and Commander D. Govan, Commanding Officer USS COLUMBIA (SSN 771), were very surprised at the submarine history of Northern New Jersey, and the condition of LING and her collection of vintage missiles. Chief Warrant Officer 4 J. Donaldson, COMSUBLANT, a former crewmember of LING, was also taken aback at the great condition of the boat he served on for many years. I hope that the readers of this article also have their interests peaked to make the trip to see where it all began.

Feel free to call me or any of the staff of the New Jersey Naval Museum at {201) 342-3268 or fax (201) 927-4645 if you have any questions, want to make donations, wish to talk or wish to use the facilities for your organization.

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