Jolly Roger R & D
Bill of Complaint
Jolly Roger


“Bill of Complaint”

filed by Electric Boat Company


In Chancery of New Jersey


Complaining shows unto your Honor your orator ELECTRIC BOAT COMPANY, a corporation created and existing under the laws of the State of New Jersey, and having its principal office in the City of Jersey City, in the County of Hudson and the State of New Jersey.

  1.  That your orator is a corporation created and existing under and pursuant to the terms of an Act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey entitled “An Act Concerning Corporations (Revision or 1896),” approved April 21, 1896, and the several acts amendatory thereof and supplemental thereto, and was organized on or about the eleventh day of February, in the year eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, by a certificate filed on that day in the office of the Secretary of State of the State of New Jersey, to which said certificate or a duly authenticated copy thereof your orator begs leave to refer for greater certainty should it be necessary hereafter so to do.

  2.  That the principal business carried on by your orator since its incorporation as aforesaid and which is included in the purposes for which your orator was incorporated, is the manufacture, construction and sale of submarine and submergible torpedo boats, and other boats and vessels operated by electric motive power, and that in its business, and especially in connection with the submarine and submergible boat business, your orator has obtained and owns a large number of valuable patents, and has also acquired and operates several valuable and expensive plants, and conducts and has conducted the said business upon a large scale.

  3.  That the submarine and submergible boat business is, and has since its inception been, wholly made up of the construction of submarine war vessels of the torpedo boat type, and that with the exception of this particular field, submarine vessels have not yet proven themselves of any mercantile value, and there is no demand or market therefore, and that for this reason your orator’s customers for such boats have been and can be only governments and nations, and firms and individuals acting for them, or acting with a view to selling the boats constructed or planned or covered by the patents of your orator, to the governments and nations of the world, or some of them, and that for this reason your orator’s field in so far as its business of constructing, selling and operating submarine and submergible boats is concerned, is a very narrow and limited one.

  4.  That John P. Holland, of the City of Newark, in the County of Essex and State of New Jersey, was at the time of the incorporation of your orator as aforesaid engaged, among other things, in inventing, designing and perfecting submarine and submergible boats, and had secured and was securing patents thereon and on improvements thereon and on devices connected therewith, in this and foreign countries, and at the time of the incorporation of your orator as aforesaid was in the employ of the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, and that at or shortly after your orator’s incorporation the said Holland, with the consent of said Holland Torpedo Boat Company, entered the employ of your orator in an advisory capacity as an engineer and inventor and continued in its employ under an oral contract and arrangement until the execution of the written contract of employment hereinafter referred to.

  5.  That for the purpose of enabling the said Holland to acquaint himself with the submarine boat business in foreign countries and to recuperate his energies, your orator permitted the said Holland in or about the month of March, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, to go abroad and while there continued to pay him a regular salary, and between the time of incorporation of your orator and the execution of the said written contract your orator paid the said Holland for services and travelling expenses more than the sum of four thousand seven hundred dollars.

  6.  That in the month of April, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, the said Holland, while in your orator’s employ as aforesaid, in disregard and violation of his duty and obligations to it and for the purpose of injuring your orator in its foreign business and diverting to himself business and profits which otherwise would have come to your orator, and without the knowledge and consent of your orator, opened negotiations with one T. H. Adrian Tromp, of Holland, for the purpose of establishing a corporation or organization in Holland or Belgium for the purpose of competing with your orator in its submarine boat business and injuring it therein and of diverting to the said Holland business and profits which properly belonged to your orator, and in furtherance of said purpose, on or about the twenty-nine, wrote to the said Tromp as follows:


April 28, 1899

Westerkade 3, Rotterdam, Holland.


My friend Mr. Morris wrote me from New York on the 18th inst., a piece of news that in my opinion confirms my prediction as to the way in which it is probable my Co.’s business will be run in the future. That news is that Mr. Frost has been superceded in the management of the Co. by one Col. Atkinson, a man of whom I never heard anything before to-day.

Another straw that shows how the wind blows is that our new engineer in chief, Mr. R, McA. Lloyd, criticized adversely, and ridiculed, a project that I directed to be undertaken at once; i.e., a model of the central section of hull No. 7 with the object of subjecting it to external water pressure with the object of ascertaining by actual test the safe limit of depth of immersion in service.

It looks extremely probable that within two months I shall cable you authority to raise money for a new Co. in Holland or Belgium, or in both.

Will it not be necessary to have some plan ready to propose to prospective subscribers regarding the amount and distribution of stock, etc. If building plant must be installed in a new yard ₤6,000 extra will be required. If proper facilities are now available this will not be wanted.

Will you be good enough to give me your views?

I should like to hear what your friend in the French Naval Construction Department had to say regarding your suggestion that he communicate with me.

As I sail on the 30th inst., via Queenstown, by the Etruria, my next address will be 194 Fairmount Ave., Newark, N. J., U. S. America.

Yours very sincerely,



  7.  That upon the return of the said Holland to this country from said European trip, and on the eighth day of May, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, and while your orator was ignorant of the said wrongful and fraudulent purpose of the said Holland and his acts in furtherance thereof, the said Holland was elected a member of the Board of Directors of your orator, and his said election duly accepted, and thereafter continued as one of your orator’s directors until on or about the month of May, nineteen hundred and four; that as such director and trustee of your orator he became familiar with business and trade secrets, it general business policy and other secret and confidential matters, and during said time occupied a trust relationship towards your orator and its stockholders.

  8.  That after the incorporation of your orator and during the years eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, nineteen hundred, and nineteen hundred and one, your orator was engaged in establishing its business in and throughout the countries of Europe …

  9.  That in the month of June, eighteen hundred and ninety-nine, the said Holland, without the knowledge or consent of your orator … continued to negotiate with individuals in Holland, … in part as follows:



JUNE 5, 1899


Rotterdam, Holland.


Your letter of the 2nd ult., together with your preliminary proposition, was received on the 13th ult.

Referring to your letter of May 2nd you are perfectly correct regarding the reasons why French officials cannot receive proposals regarding any submarine boats but those on which they are working.

I agree with you that it would be folly to waste our time on foreign naval attaches.

The copy of your paper on submarine boats came along with your letter of May 5th. Had you sent English and French translations, with the translator’s bill, I would have paid it at once if the company failed to do so.

I am much pleased to know that it was effective.

I have not transferred any European patents to my present Co. Until last Friday I was under the impression that I had done so. On that day Mr. Frost handed me a bundle of papers requesting me to sign them. Instead of doing so there and then, as requested, I took them home to find what they were. You may guess how surprised I was to find that they were assignments of my rights in Europe.

I shall take the whole bundle with your proposal – which, by the way, appears to be very reasonable – to my lawyer this morning for his advice, and I strongly suspect that within a day or two Mr. Frost will find I am not such a – fool as he thought.

I shall push the matter to a close at once, and I shall not fail to give an immediate report of each day’s developments.

I found full and reliable information regarding storage batteries in London.

I hope to be able at an early date to decide, with your advice, whether it would be better to start a Co. in Holland or to work for royalty with such a Co. ad the La Seyne.

Europe is a free field for me as far as patents are concerned for the plain reasons that my most important and vital devices are still in my head and nowhere else. This may also be a difficulty for me as people may not want to deal with me, no matter how successful and novel my boat may be, until I can procure patents.

I had six patents taken in Europe all of which were permitted to lapse. One regarding submerging boats is in force in Belgium, France, Spain, Sweden and England, but it is not applicable to submarines.

I shall not fail to report the first and every succeeding development.

Yours very sincerely,



  10.  That the statement made by the said Holland in the said last mentioned letter, that Europe was a free field for him as far as patents were concerned, was false and untrue, and that the said Holland was at the time therein referred to under contract with the Holland Torpedo Boat Company, a corporation of the State of New York, to transfer to it all his patents in so far as submarine and submergible boats were concerned, which fact was fraudulently concealed by the said Holland in said negotiations for the purpose of furthering the same.

  11.  That afterwards and on or about the sixteenth day of June, in the year nineteen hundred, your orator entered into a certain written contract with the said Holland as follows:


“Agreement, made this sixteenth day of June, nineteen hundred, by and between the ELECTRIC BOAT COMPANY, of New Jersey, partly of the first part, and hereinafter called the Boat Company, and JOHN P. HOLLAND, of Newark, New Jersey, party of the second part, WITNESSETH:

That, in consideration of the agreements and promises of the parties hereto herein contained and the sum of one dollar to each party hereto in hand paid by the other, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged said Boat Company agrees:

FIRST. - To employ the said Holland as Consulting Engineer for the term of five years from the first day of April 1899, at and for the yearly salary of Ten thousand dollars ($10,000) payable in equal monthly instalments at the end of each month.

Furthermore, said Boat Company agrees to issue and transfer to the said Holland five hundred shares of its Preferred Stock of the par value of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) after the execution hereof.

And the said Holland agrees immediately upon the execution of this agreement or co-incidently with receiving the stock aforesaid, to transfer, assign, sell and set over, to the said Boat Company all patents, relating to submarine or submersible boats, whether granted by the United States or foreign governments, inventions and patentable ideas relating to submarines – submergible boats which may be now owned, in possession of or under the control of the said Holland, and to execute and deliver such papers as the Boat Company may deem necessary or proper to this end.

And the said Holland agrees from time to time hereafter, upon request by said Boat Company, to transfer assign and set over to the said Boat Company, or cause to be so transferred, assigned or set over, and to sign all necessary and proper papers to that end, all patents, patentable ideas, or inventions hereafter made, obtained, owned or controlled by the said Holland, connected with the use, operation, sale or construction of submarine or submergible boats, or matters in any way connected with the same.

And the said Holland furthermore agrees from time to time, as requested by said Boat Company, and in so far as he may be able to do so, to apply for, perfect, take out, or otherwise aid said Boat Company and at its expense in obtaining other patents, inventions or improvements upon submarine or submergible boats, or any matter or thing connected in any way with the construction, use,  operation or sale of the same, and to assign transfer and set over, as herein above provided, any patents obtained hereunder, and to prosecute and follow up, as requested by said Boat Company, and at their expense, all pending applications for patents, plans, specifications, patentable ideas or improvements now applied for by said Holland or within his knowledge or control, with a view to obtaining the allowance of the same and patents thereon, and to assign any such patents so obtained where they may be connected with the construction, use, operation or sale of submarine or submergible boats to said Boat Company, as herein provided.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the party of the first part has caused these presents to be executed by its President and its corporate seal to be hereto attached, and the party of the second part has here-unto set his hand and seal the day and year first above written.





  12.  That after the execution and delivery of the said agreement and in accordance with the terms thereof, your orator duly issued an transferred unto the said John P. Holland five hundred shares of its preferred stock of the par value of fifty thousand dollars and the market value of thirty-five thousand dollars and upwards, and paid to him his yearly salary as in said contract provided, and in all respects complied with the term and provisions of the said contract on the part of your orator to be performed.

  13.  That the said Holland, after the execution of the said last mentioned contract with your orator and while still a member of its Board of Directors and in its employ as aforesaid, continued the negotiations hereinbefore mentioned in furtherance of his purpose and design hereinbefore more particularly set forth and in furtherance of his said purpose and negotiations, forwarded to the said Tromp what purported to be a copy of said agreement of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, with the statement that under said agreement the company was bound to him for five years, but that he, the said Holland, was free to leave it when he saw fit, and in the course of said negotiations gave and supplied to his foreign correspondents the information necessary for the formation of the proposed rival corporation, and supplied the said Tromp with the business secrets of your orator to that end.

  14.  That the so-called copy of the contract between your orator and the said Holland, being said agreement of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, supplied and forwarded as hereinbefore set forth by the said Holland to the said Tromp, was not a true and complete copy thereof, and did not contain a material part of the said contract; that the statement to the effect that the said Holland was free to leave the employ of your orator when he saw fit, but that your orator was bound to him for five years was false and untrue, and was known by the said Holland at the time to be false and untrue and was fraudulently made for the purpose of furthering the said negotiations for starting a rival company, and that the said Holland at the time thereof was under contract with your orator as hereinbefore set forth, and under said contract his patents, both domestic and foreign, both present and future, belonged to your orator.

  15.  That during the spring and summer of the year nineteen hundred and one, your orator was engaged in carrying on negotiations with the government of the Kingdom of Holland for the sale to it by your orator of submarine and submergible boats of the so-called “Holland” type (the name of the said type of boat having been taken from the “Holland,” a submarine boat built from plans of the said Holland, and so named out of compliment to him), and that the said negotiations in or about the month of September, nineteen hundred and one, had so far progressed that the Government of Holland had decided and agreed to send to the United States a commission of its representatives to inspect a submarine and submergible torpedo boat, theretofore constructed by your orator, and named the Fulton, but that in the said month of September, nineteen hundred and one, and on or about the sixth and twenty-fourth days of the said month respectively, the said Holland, with full knowledge of the premises, and in violation of his duties and obligations to your orator, and for his own personal gain, and for the furtherance of the purpose so formed by him as hereinbefore set forth, wrote and sent to the said Tromp two certain letters as follows:


SEPTEMBER 6, 1901.

C/o Holland Amer. Cotton Oil Co.,

Rotterdam, Holland.


My promised letter regarding the performance and the shortcomings of the Fulton must be written to-day in order that it may reach you just before the date on which you are to embark, with the gentlemen of the Commission for America.

This letter was delayed until the last moment in the hope that I would have definite information regarding the boats performance; but thus far there is practically nothing to tell. She has made three four-hour runs on the surface but not at full power. Much trouble was met with hot bearings and with some parts breaking, but they say she is practically all right now. Notwithstanding this assurance I have not yet been invited to see her run.

Messrs. Rice, Frost, Cable and Brady, and a few others, amongst them Lieut. Caldwell, who have witnessed the run say that she performs better than sis the Holland. I hope she does, but I doubt it.

Judging by what I hear, I believe she will be ready when your commission reaches here, although she has not dived yet.

The whole set of fourteen boats of the type Fulton were designed to carry flasks to contain 69 cubic feet of compressed air at 2,000 lbs. pressure.

Finding that each boat would be seven or eight tons too heavy, thus reducing the surface speed to a point that would not come up to the Government contract, they reduced the Fulton’s weight by taking out air flasks containing 15 cubic feet volume. Their weight is about 2,100 lbs. Even with this weight taken out she is still 18” too deep astern and they are bulkheading off 4 tons of the main water ballast tank at its after end.

She has now no torpedoes, nor torpedo compensation tanks, on board excepting a weight equal to one torpedo in the expulsion tube. The four additional torpedoes, with their compensation tanks, will weigh 1,000 pounds each, total 4,000 pounds. Therefore in order to be able to carry these four torpedoes 4,000 pounds of air flasks must be taken out leaving but 15 cubic feet of compressed air in the boat.

This quantity of air is about four times too small. It would just suffice to blow the water ballast out twice leaving no air to support life, or to vary the total weight by blowing out water when coming to the surface for observation.

This state of affairs renders the boats practically useless; and it cannot be remedied except by lengthening them about five feet amidships.

To help matters a little and save some air they have thrown out the power steering and diving engines claiming that hand power alone is sufficient in every contingency and superior to engine power for steering.

Your commission will readily appreciate that as a submarine boat should be, if possible, as lively as a porpoise her steering power should be the greatest and most effective that can be carried, even though our high authorities (?) Cable and Brady, have decided to the contrary.

In the matter of getting under water quickly when so required, the boat, at the beginning, running full speed, light, on the surface of the water, the Fulton will do better than any of her sister boats. They will take about four minutes to fill their water ballast tanks. She can do it in less than two minutes. The Holland could do it in one minute. They positively refused to carry out my plan for quick ballasting. Cable proposing to go into action with one tank full so that the time would be saved and the remainder could be filled in less than two minutes.

This plan is inadmissible because surface speed is sacrificed by having one tank full when going into action and the boat’s effectiveness seriously impaired.

The boats under construction at Vickers’ are similarly handicapped. All will require at least four minutes to obtain water cover; and before they could obtain it they would be blown into scrap iron by a torpedo boat, or destroyer, carrying a spar torpedo.

Yet our distinguished engineers maintain that they are doing wisely!

Automatic vertical steering at a predetermined depth, without more than one metre variation vertically, is by them judged to be of no consequence as they have thrown out to save weight and to save some air. No man can endure the nerve tension that this apparatus would save.

The automatic apparatus for ventilation while submerged has also been thrown out, even though it performed properly.

It is true that this is not much of a loss as the boat, when in action, will seldom or never be compelled to remain more than an hour submerged; and in that length of time the air contained in the living space would not suffer much vitiation; but the boat is less complete without it.

So far a fulfilling the U. S. Government requirements is concerned there is nothing that I can see to prevent the Fulton and her sisters from doing it perfectly; but the ability to do what the Government requires is very much less indeed than will be actually wanted in service to render a submarine boat worth considering.

The Govt. requirements are that the boat run a distance of 20 knots on the surface of the water, then that she run one mile submerged towards a target 150 feet long, and strike said target with a torpedo. The boat may come to the surface three times to correct its course, or take aim, but must not be visible longer than one minute at each appearance.

The boat that could do just these things and nothing more would not be worth one minute’s consideration at the present day.

I omitted two points above – the boat must make 8 knots speed on the surface and 7 knots while awash or submerged. The Holland did these things easily at Peconic Bay and all the others should do so with equal ease. But should they be required to simulate an attack on a blockading fleet ten miles off shore on a dark, stormy night, the case would be very different indeed. Cable will never take the Fulton out on a dark night without being proceeded by an attending vessel carrying a bright light on her stern, and he certainly will not take her out in stormy weather by day or night unless at the end of a tow line. This is to me especially provoking because I designed them to do just these things without the help of a tender; but I was overruled. I was told that these things were unnecessary, and the means to assist in doing them were thrown out. In the case supposed above it is essential that the boat run at such depth, when at close quarters, that she cannot collide with any of the blockading vessels, say 30 to 40 feet; but Mr. Cable says that 10 feet is enough for him.

The depth gauges installed on the Fulton are graduated for an extreme depth of 30 feet proving that he proposes never to exceed two-thirds of that depth, or twenty feet.

The boats could manoeuvre perfectly and safely at a depth of 200 feet were they provided with the proper appliances, but it was ruled that they were not wanted. We had experimental proof that they would not collapse under the hydrostatic pressure due to a depth of 420 feet in salt water.

I presume that your board will require that one of its members be permitted to remain inside of the boat during the exhibition runs.

It is very certain that Mr. Frost will desire and expect that the Commission be content with seeing just the same things that were done with the Holland and over the same course, but I would respectfully suggest that your Commission request that the twenty mile surface run be made towards a stake boat at an estimated distance of one mile; and that the run should be made at a depth of 30 feet.

Mr. Frost should also be requested to order that a run of, say 10 mikes, be made at sea at night without attendance, provided the weather is rough.

To sum up the deficiencies of the fourteen boats or rather their most prominent deficiencies, now under construction in this country and in England are:
  1.  They are built too heavy, especially astern so that it will be next to impossible to trim quickly, which is evidently essential.
  2.  The supply of compressed air is only about one-fourth of what must be provided.
  3.  The manoeuvering power in the horizontal and vertical planes has been sadly impaired.
  4.  The power of coming to the surface for observation and then rapidly disappearing has been seriously impaired.
  5.  The ability to rapidly obtain water cover from hostile attack has been ignored.
  6.  The protection against collision afforded by automatic steering at a set depth is disregarded.
  7.  The apparatus to automatically prevent reaching a dangerous depth has been thrown out.
  8.  The devices to bring the conning tower over the surface for observation in the shortest possible time has been judged to be useless.
  10. The apparatus for providing ventilation while submerged has been thrown out.

The apparatus to render it possible to navigate submarine boats at night at sea, or in rough weather during daylight has been thrown out.

In fact, Mr. Frost and his assistants, Cable and Brady, have produced a flotilla of submarine boats that will suit fairly well to impress those who know little about the sea and much less about tactics, the conditions to be encountered and provided for, with what a wonderful machine a submarine boat can be; but they know nothing of what actual service and work under all conditions means.

They know nothing of the qualities required in boats designed for defense or for offense at long distances and hence the unfavorable criticisms of men like Admiral Melville who can see nothing good in any project but the particular one that has succeeded in obtaining his favor notwithstanding the fact that many important features of that design have been “borrowed” without permission of the inventor.

Mr. Frost will discover in time although possibly too late to be of any advantage to me that even a Napoleon of management having possession of my inventions and the assistance of two bright young men still lacks the experience and other essentials that are necessary for success.

Yours very sincerely.


P. S. – Please note the change in my address.

J. P. H.”


SEPT. 24, 1901

C/o H. A. C. Oil Co.
Rotterdam, Holland.


Just as I was finishing on the 9th inst. The letter that I commenced three days before, pointing out the shortcomings of the new submarine boats, I received yours of the 26th ult. It had been fourteen days on the way; but the news it contained was great, excellent; please accept my congratulations and thanks.

I never entertained the least doubt of your success but the speed with which you accomplished it exceeded my expectation. Now you will perceive the delay in the transit of your letter put me in a difficulty. There remained only ten days for the information your friend sought in which to reach you before the 19th inst. The day set for embarkation.

You did not name any person to whom I should send it; and your injunction that I should have the letter registered proved that you did not wish my letter to fall into the wrong hands.

Notwithstanding this I was sorely tempted to send it with instructions to your son c/o The H. A. C. Oil Co., but as I did not know either is full name or what office he held in the Co. there was a risk of having it handed to someone else, so I judged it best to hold this letter, and the other I had just completed, until your arrival here on the 29th inst.

A few days later Frost telegraphed me to come to New Suffolk and that they wanted to consult me regarding a difficulty with the Fulton.

I went there on the 13th and found that with full power – 160 horse – the boat could only make 6.8 knots on the surface, and that the trouble was owing to defects in her shape solely. I came there again the following Tuesday the 17th inst., and told what should be done to bring the speed up to ten knots, advising Mr. Frost that as the changes I proposed would take at least one month of quick work that he was under obligation to notify you and your Govt., and to request your Minister of Marine that the visit of the commission be set back two months. He agreed with me; but Cable and Brady were satisfied that a change of propeller wheels with docking and cleaning the boat, would bring her up to the Government requirement, 8 knots. Finally Frost referred the case to Mr. Nixon. We met him on the 18th inst., and he agreed my cure for the trouble was correct; but he would not agree with me that it was hopeless to expect 8 knots from anything they could do in the way of trimming, cleaning and changing wheels, so they have gone to work to apply their remedies, and I wish them success.

On the morning of the 19th inst. I reminded Mr. Frost of his promise to cable you and your Minister of Marine and to my great disgust he admitted he hadn’t done so, giving as his excuse that he and Mr. Rice had arranged with you and the Minister of Marine that your Commission was to await Frost’s notification of the boat’s readiness for trials.

I must admit that I did not believe a syllable of this information; but I couldn’t help wondering at his ‘cheek’ in expecting that your Government would agree to be subject to his order in that manner!

Now you can see that I am in a quandary. There is no telling for certain whether you and the Commission are on the way here or whether you await Frost’s invitation. In the latter case your Commission will be compelled to wait until their patience is exhausted as it will require months dallying with screws and variations of trim to teach that stupid crowd that puttering of that sort is vain, and losing time, and it will then take two months more to adopt my remedy and prove it. That will bring us to 1902, by no means a pleasant prospect for me, yet one of the inevitable incidents to be encountered in developing all important radical innovations. This is not my first or worst setback by any means, and I trust I shall manage to live through it.

Remember that from the organization of the new Co. in April, 1898, that is, since Frost was permitted to manage everything, I was not allowed to have anything whatever to do with either the design or construction of the vessels.

When the model experiments were made in the Washington Navy Yard in Feb. 1900, by Mr. Brady, both he and Frost took care that I heard nothing about them until they were completed. Brady was under the illusion that the model trials were mainly to ascertain speeds, and he had no notion that their main object was to determine the best shape for the vessel. What he did see therefore had no significance for him excepting as regards power and even that he interpreted incorrectly. His conclusion was that the model proved that 160 horse power – what was expected to provide – would propel the full sized vessel very close on to 10 knots per hour.

Judging by our experience with the Holland it was reasonable to expect that result. The Holland made 7.4 knots with 75 horse power, and 9 knots with 125 horse power. It was then reasonable to expect that her successor, a longer and sharper boat, would make 10 knots with 160 horse power.

These model experiments showed very plainly the defects of the new boat design and they also indicated very clearly to those competent to interpret the indications the modifications of shape that were necessary to obtain good results. But wanting any experience whatever in these things, and being affected with a particularly aggravated case of “swell head” Mr. Brady could see no reason for changing anything. Frost had just appointed him chief engineer over my head and made him independent of me. Even Frost himself now appreciates some of the results of this foolish action, and he knows that he alone is responsible. He attempted to excuse himself by saying that the drawings were all made at the time of the model experiments, and they could not be changed. What an absurd argument. But it was not true, and there was plenty of time in which to change them as the contract was not signed for about five months afterwards. I had not seen the experiments with the model and I knew nothing more of its performance than that Brady said it proved the boat would make close to ten knots; but on the 13th inst. I saw a photograph of the Fulton running at full power and Frost assured me that it corresponded exactly with the appearance of the model when running in the tank in Washington. He stupidly imagined that congratulations were due to himself and Brady for having attained exactly corresponding results with the full sized vessel. But Brady miscalculated the speed; and the defective shape of the vessel remained unaltered because he did not know enough to see what was wrong or how to correct it. Hence its disastrous failure. To me it appears that there is no hope whatever of making 8 knots by their proposed methods, and none whatever of making ten knots. My reason for thinking so is that the wheel now on the boat fell only two revolutions short of the designed speed, 250 revolutions per minute, but it absorbed the full power of the engine, 160 H. P. The most notable point was the slip of the wheel was 52% proving that the resistance ahead was too great for the power, and that the latter was chiefly expended in pushing the boat up hill. This was proved by the photograph that showed a difference of level between the water ahead and on her quarters of over three feet.

Don’t you think Friend Frost is in a tight place at last? He doesn’t think so simply because he only suspects things yet, but he is certain to find out very soon.

I have always been willing to help them to the full extent of my ability, and when I saw them doing stupid things and throwing out or altering beyond recognition things that O had designed in the Holland I protested and repeated my protests, but without any other result than to be almost invariably insulted for my trouble.

Frost had my patents and he believed that with Cable and Brady to assist him he was quite independent of me, and that he could provoke me, to resign at any time and thus save my salary.

He will therefore be delighted to receive my resignation.

Enclosed you will find answers to the questions proposed by your frient, the member of the Syndicate, and other information that may prove to be of use to you.

I can already see several new points of almost vital importance that new Co. can cover by patents. I don’t fear or expect any interference or worry from Frost, Rice and Co. in the matter of patents. I defy them. I will get beyond them and into new ground quickly and how can they prove that I invented anything and find what it is?

Having explained everthing to you as I know it please tell me what to do. I am willing to start at once or to wait until your commission comes here, if ever, to see things, designs and work for which I repudiate all responsibility.

Please write or cable me to the address at the head of the letter.

Yours very sincerely,



  16.  That afterwards and on or about the eighteenth day of November, nineteen hundred and one, the said Holland, in furtherance of his said purpose and in violation of his trust and duty toward your orator, and for the purpose of preventing your orator from selling said boats, or any of them, to the said Government of Holland, wrote and sent to the said Tromp a further letter as follows:


U. S. A.,

NOVEMBER 18, 1901.


My reason for cabling you for news on the 11th inst., is that there are new, urgent reasons for hurrying the organization of our Company of which you are not aware because you sailed for Europe before they developed.

The first reason was a request from the Stabiliments Technics of Triestino, Austria, made directly to me by their English Agents, Bolling & Lowe, 2 Laurence Poantney Hill, London, E. C., for information as to how they could acquire rights similar to those possessed by the Vickers Maxim Co., to build submarines on my plans.

Expecting your cablegram I delayed answering them in hopes that I ought be able to refer them to the new Company in Holland. But in the mean time they found Frosts address and referred them to Rice who is in England. Rice must have referred them immediately to Vickers; but it may not be too late after you shall have received this letter to get Lt. Van Aspern to see Bolling & Lowe, or preferably, the Stabiliments Co., in Triestino, and explain matters so as to stop the consummation of the deal with Vickers.

This is important as we do not want to have several companies building so called Holland Boats in Europe, and then confirming the destruction of their good name.

Of course you will remember that Lt. Van Aspern is not free to tell that I have broken with my present Company until I am informed of the starting of the new one and that I have an opportunity of resigning my position with them. The next reason for haste is that the Fulton has developed another serious defect which could not have existed had I been permitted by Frost to experiment with the Holland after her screw was placed forward of the rudders, or had he compelled Cable to report to me as I urgently requested, how the Holland acted while totally submerged, when she was driven faster than 5 to 6 knots per hour.

Cable made the experiments I prescribed, but with Frosts approval he kept the results to himself. Having told no one the defects were uncorrected and the Fulton wabbles both vertically and horizontally when driven over 5 ½ knots when submerged.

Had I known about this while Brady was making the designs I might have succeeded in persuading them to make the small change necessary to prevent that and the excessive wave making trouble. But it was folly to expect so much from them remembering the size of their swelled heads.

You are already informed that Frost put it out of my power to prevent these defects in the present lot of boats notwithstanding my anxiety to make them perfect. But we shall have abundant compensation in our improved chances of securing for our new Co., in Holland the first large appropriation for submarine boats made in the U. States, as well as those following.

There will be an appropriation made this winter for one or two boats capable of running on the sea bottom on wheels and of planting stationary mines – Lake’s plan – and without having my old plans for doing the same thing, which our Jewish and Yankee acquaintances, Rice and Frost, cannot have, Lake is pretty certain to get them, and Rice and Frost will have no chance of getting anything before 1903 or 1904.

If your friends in Holland will only hurry up and have a decent boat on exhibition early in 1903 the whole field will be theirs in Europe, America and Asia. Our new boat will set a very high standard for future competitions; we can get all the American Naval Attaches in Europe to dive in the boat also to manage and examine its working and then to report to their Govt.

The result will be that old Rice must come with his hat in his hand and on his knees beg for our designs and patents offering in exchange my 23 patents and a substantial consideration for conceding rights for the U. States.

My last reason for urging haste is that Commandante Elix, who was captain of the new Italian submarine boat, Delfino, called on me with Lt. Van Asperns introduction and gave me a most pressing invitation to come to Genoa and build a boat for the Ansaldos, practically on my own terms.

I must tell you, in confidence, that he offered me $50,000 for a set of drawings, and $5,000 per year if I would come and build for him. He is a director of the Ansaldo Co., and he has full authority from his Co. and from his minister of marine to build one submarine. I told him that it was quite impossible for me to accept his proposition because, in the first place, I had already made a proposition to other parties in Europe from which I neither could or would withdraw until they had rejected my terms, and also that I had not yet withdrawn from the Co. with which I was now connected even though there was more than reason enough to justify me in doing so.

He urged the superior advantages that were at my disposal at Genoa in the best experimental tank in the world, the great wealth of the Ansaldos, and in the well framed force of naval architects and engineers who were at my disposal.

Had I not enjoyed the very great pleasure of the acquaintance and friendship of my very dear friend Capt. T. H. Adr. Tromp, and made him a definite roposition, I would have jumped at Commandante Elix’s offer without nervousness as to the future.

Now here is my view of the case:

When submarines get a decent chance and are not marred by jews or Shrewd Yanks, they are certain to become a craze amongst maritime nations, therefore it would be utter folly to catch at every bait offered in temptation. It is best to found one company wisely and solidly, a company of men of sense, the antithesis of the Rice and Frost type who want to grab everything in sight at the first chance, being utterly incompetent to see the possibilities of the future.

My notion is – even though I may be greatly mistaken, nd I shall be thankful for guidance as I am anxious to learn – that we can harmonize all who want submarines and get the best possible results with advantage to the new Company.

For example: it may be wise to have an arrangement with the Ansaldos on account of their facilities for getting gup our designs and experimenting; but the Company in Holland should alone own and dispose of national and territorial rights.

Not being young, like yourself, anymore, much activity on my part will not be possible; but you and your friends may be assured that if we make any deals elsewhere in Europe they will require that I manage to call and see the work in progress once a month at least, also to be present at launches, t manage the first runs, and to train a crew in each case.

Can’t you manage to hurry your folks up and cable me on the result when you receive this provided you will not have done so before you read this letter.

Should you desire any modification of what you have already written, and is now on its way, have the goodness to cable me as I do not think that either you or your associates desire that I should wait indefinitely.

Yours very sincerely,


P. S. Please give my regards to Lieut. Van Aspern.

J. P. H.”


  17. That during the time covered by the said correspondence between the said Holland and the said Tromp, the latter was acting solely in the interests of the said Holland and adverse to the interests of your orator; that the said correspondence and negotiations so as aforesaid carried on by the said Holland with the said Tromp and other persons in Europe, were carried on by the said Holland secretly and without the knowledge, consent, approval or authority of your orator, and with a desire and intention on the part of the said Holland not to benefit, but to injure your orator and to advance his own personal interests at the expense of the interests of your orator.

  18.  That afterwards and in the month of February, nineteen hundred and two, your orator first learned of the said correspondence between the said Holland and the said Tromp and of the negotiations between the said Holland and the said Tromp and other persons, and thereupon your orator was entitled forthwith to terminate its said contract with the said Holland and to cease paying to him the compensation provided for him according to the terms thereof, and to remove and discharge the said Holland from his position as a member of your orator’s Board of Directors, and also acquired a cause or causes of action against the said Holland for the violation by him of the terms of his said contract and of his duty as a member of the Board of Directors of your orator.

  19.  That thereupon, and in the said month of February, nineteen hundred and two, Isaac L. Rice, who then was and since the incorporation of your orator had been president of your orator, and Elihu B. Frost, who then was and since the incorporation of your orator had been vice-president of your orator, charged the said Holland with the said breach of his said contract and the violation of his duty toward your orator, and that thereupon the said Holland, in consideration of the agreement made by our orator to continue him in its employ under the terms of the said agreement of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, and to waive its right to discharge the said Holland from its employ, and to waive and forego the institution of any action or actions against the said Holland for his breach of contract and violation of duty, undertook and agreed that he would not upon and after the expiration of his employment under the terms of the said agreement of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, engage as an inventor or designer in the business of building or constructing submarine and submergible boats, and that he would not use his technical knowledge in this particular and specific branch of boat building and would not accept employment with any company, firm or individual who was a competitor of your orator, for the purpose of aiding such firm, individual or company as an inventor or designer in this specific and particular branch of boat construction.

  20.  That in pursuance of the terms of the said oral agreement your orator continued the said Holland in its employ, and, until the time fixed in the said contract of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, in that behalf, paid to him the salary therein and thereby agreed upon and forebore to bring any action or actions against said Holland in respect of the matters aforesaid, and continued the said Holland as a member of its Board of Directors until he voluntarily resigned therefrom in the year nineteen hundred and four, and in all respects complied with the term of the said oral agreement of February, nineteen hundred and two, by it to be performed.

  21.  That notwithstanding the premises, the said Holland, shortly after the expiration of the term of his employment by your orator under the said contract of June sixteenth, nineteen hundred, and in violation of the terms of his said oral agreement of February, nineteen hundred and two, entered into the business of constructing submarine and submergible boats as an inventor and designer, for the purpose of competing with your orator and endeavoring to take away from it the business of this character, and in said capacity of inventor and designer the said Holland applied for patents for use in connection with the construction of submarine and submergible boats, and has directly aided and abetted other persons in attempts to compete with your orator in such business, and has prepared designs and specifications of submarine boats and furnished them to persons whose interests are adverse to your orator, for the purpose of endeavoring to injure it in its said business, and that on or about the third day of June, nineteen hundred and five, the said Holland procured certain persons to organize a corporation under the General Corporation Act of this State, under the name of “John P. Holland’s Submarine Boat Company,” for the purpose, among other things, of constructing submarine and submergible torpedo boats, and entered into a contract with the said last mentioned corporation to act as consulting engineer for it in carrying out the objects of its incorporation, which said position the said Holland still occupies.

In consideration whereof, and for as much as your orator is without adequate remedy in the premises at and by the strict rules of common law, and can only obtain relief in this Honorable Court where matters of this nature are properly cognizable and relievable;

To the end therefore that the said John P. Holland may, but without oath (which is hereby waived pursuant to the statute), to the best and utmost of his knowledge, remembrance, information and belief, full, true and perfect answer make to all and singular the matters aforesaid, and that as fully and particularly as if the same were here repeated and the said defendant distinctly interrogated thereto, and that the said John P. Holland may be enjoined from engaging as an inventor or designer in the business of building or constructing submarine and submergible boats and from using his technical knowledge in this particular and specific branch of boat building, and from accepting employment with any company, firm or individual who is a competitor of your orator, and from continuing in such employment for the purpose of aiding such firm, individual or company as an inventor or designer in this specific and particular branch of boat construction, and that your orator may have such further and other relief to the premises as the nature of the case may require and as shall be agreeable to equity and good conscience.

May it please your Honor, the premises considered, to grant unto your orator not only the State’s writ of injunction, issuing out of and under the seal of this Honorable Court, to be directed to the said John P. Holland, restraining the said John P. Holland from engaging as an inventor or designer in the business of building or constructing submarine or submergible boats, and from using his technical knowledge it this particular and specific branch of boat building, and from accepting employment with any company, firm or individual, who is a competitor of your orator, and from continuing in such employment for the purpose of aiding such firm, individual or company as an inventor or designer in his specific and particular branch of boat construction, but also the State’s writ of subpoena issuing out of and under the seal of this Honorable Court to be directed to the said John P. Holland, commanding him by a certain day and under certain penalty, therein to be expressed, to be and appear before your Honor in the Honorable Court, then and there to answer all and singular the premises, and to stand to, abide by and perform such prder or decree therein as to your Honor shall seem meet as shall be agreeable to equity and good conscience.

And your orator as in duty bound will ever pray. &c.


Solicitors for Complainant.


County of New York,

ISAAC L. RICE, of full age, being duly sworn according to law, on his oath says: That he is President of the Electric Boat Company, the complainant named in the foregoing bill of complaint, and is familiar with the matters and things therein set forth; deponent further says that he has read the said bill of complaint, and that the matters and things therein set forth, in so far as they relate to his own acts and the acts of the said complainant, are true, and in so far as they relates to the acts of others, he believes them to be true.


Sworn and subscribed be-

Fore me this 21st day

Of October, A. D. 1905.


Notary Public (79)

Kings Co.

Certificate filed in N. Y. County.




Many thanks to Gary W. McCue, webmaster of the J.P. Holland website, for providing this information



Related pages
O 1 boat history
O 1 class specifications
John Philip Holland trying to set up shop in the Netherlands
Bill of complaint
Dutch Navy inspects Fulton submarine
John Philip Holland (1841-1914) and his Submarines







Do you have any comments, corrections, additions or do you have material like stories, photos or other data available for this or any other page on this website? Then please do not hesitate to contact us at


Jolly Roger Home Classes Boats Tenders News Export Jolly Roger
R&D Men Books Pictures Links
Models M-media Specials Forum Search Help US !
Copyright © 1997-2006 - Design and content