Probably the two most significant submarines to have joined the U.S. Fleet were the USS Holland (SS-1) in 1900 and the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) in 1954. Both were firsts—the first submarine to be
placed in commission by the U.S. Navy and the world's first nuclear-propelled vehicle.
The pedigrees of the two undersea craft, however, were radically different. The Holland, propelled on the surface by a gasoline engine and submerged by an electric motor, was the sixth submarine design of Irish-emigrant school teacher John P. Holland. At the time similar, relatively primitive undersea craft were being developed in Britain, France, Russia, and Spain. She was soon followed by improved submarines built for the U.S. Navy with Holland himself selling similar designs overseas.