In 1900 the Royal Navy signed a contract to build five ‘Holland’ class submarines. Entering service in 1903, these experimental boats were the Royal Navy’s first submarines, and over the next decade proved the value of the submarine as a weapon of war.
Developments in technology rendered the ‘Hollands’ obsolete and they were either sold for scrap or destined to be used for gunnery practice. HM Submarine No. 5 (the ‘Holland 5’) was en route to a naval yard when it slipped its tow and sunk in 1912. It lay undiscovered off the English south coast until accidentally found in 1995. Now protected by law, it has remained undisturbed on the seabed for almost a century.
In 2010 a Masters student from the School of Applied Sciences at Cranfield University and keen recreational diver, Duncan Harwood, decided to make the Holland 5 the subject of his dissertation. More specifically, he wished to examine the rate of corrosion suffered by the wreck, and to consider the mechanisms and factors which may have affected that rate of corrosion.