Fenian Ram
Fenian Ram is a submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 designed by John Philip Holland
John Philip Holland
John Philip Holland was an Irish engineer who developed the first submarine to be formally commissioned by the U.S...

 for use by the Fenian Brotherhood
Fenian Brotherhood
The Fenian Brotherhood was an Irish republican organization founded in the United States in 1858 by John O'Mahony and Michael Doheny. It was a precursor to Clan na Gael, a sister organization to the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Members were commonly known as "Fenians"...

, American counterpart to the Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Republican Brotherhood
The Irish Republican Brotherhood was a secret oath-bound fraternal organisation dedicated to the establishment of an "independent democratic republic" in Ireland during the second half of the 19th century and the start of the 20th century...

, against the British
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was the formal name of the United Kingdom during the period when what is now the Republic of Ireland formed a part of it....

. The Ram's construction and launching in 1881 by the Delamater Iron Company in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 was funded by the Fenians' Skirmishing Fund.

Fenian Ram's design was partly modeled on the Whitehead
Robert Whitehead
Robert Whitehead was an English engineer. He developed the first effective self-propelled naval torpedo. His company, located in the Austrian naval centre in Fiume, was the world leader in torpedo development and production up to the First World War.- Early life:He was born the son of a...

The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

, and like it had cruciform control fins near the tail. The boat did not simply take on ballast until she sank like other contemporary submarines; she maintained a slightly positive buoyancy, and simply tilted her horizontal planes so that her forward motion forced her under.

Fenian Ram was armed with a nine-inch pneumatic gun some eleven feet long, mounted along the boat's centerline and firing forward out of her bow. It operated like modern submarine torpedo tubes: a watertight bow cap was normally kept shut, allowing the six-foot-long projectiles to be loaded into the tube from the interior of the submarine. The inner door was then shut and the outer door opened by a remote mechanism. Finally, 400 psi (2.8 MPa) air was used to shoot the projectile out of the tube. To reload, the outer door was again shut and the water in the tube was blown into the surrounding ballast tank by more compressed air. It was powered by a 15 hp Brayton
Brayton cycle
The Brayton cycle is a thermodynamic cycle that describes the workings of the gas turbine engine, basis of the airbreathing jet engine and others. It is named after George Brayton , the American engineer who developed it, although it was originally proposed and patented by Englishman John Barber...

 piston engine.

During extensive trials, Holland made numerous dives and test-fired the gun using dummy projectiles. However, due to funding disputes within the IRB and disagreement over payments from the IRB to Holland, the IRB stole Fenian Ram and the Holland III
Holland III
The Holland III was an early prototype submarine made by John Holland. The 16-foot 1-ton model was a scaled-down version of the Fenian Ram intended for experiments to help him improve navigation....

prototype in November 1883. They took the submarine to New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven, Connecticut
New Haven is the second-largest city in Connecticut and the sixth-largest in New England. According to the 2010 Census, New Haven's population increased by 5.0% between 2000 and 2010, a rate higher than that of the State of Connecticut, and higher than that of the state's five largest cities, and...

, but discovered that no one knew how to operate it. Holland refused to help. Unable to use or sell the boat, the Brotherhood had the Ram hauled into a shed on the Mill River.

In 1916, Fenian Ram was exhibited in Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden
Madison Square Garden, often abbreviated as MSG and known colloquially as The Garden, is a multi-purpose indoor arena in the New York City borough of Manhattan and located at 8th Avenue, between 31st and 33rd Streets, situated on top of Pennsylvania Station.Opened on February 11, 1968, it is the...

 to raise funds for victims of the Easter Rising
Easter Rising
The Easter Rising was an insurrection staged in Ireland during Easter Week, 1916. The Rising was mounted by Irish republicans with the aims of ending British rule in Ireland and establishing the Irish Republic at a time when the British Empire was heavily engaged in the First World War...

. Afterwards, she was moved to the New York State Marine School. In 1927, Edward Browne purchased her and moved her to Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson, New Jersey
Paterson is a city serving as the county seat of Passaic County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, its population was 146,199, rendering it New Jersey's third largest city and one of the largest cities in the New York City Metropolitan Area, despite a decrease of 3,023...

, where she can still be seen at the Paterson Museum
Paterson Museum
Paterson Museum is a museum in Paterson, in Passaic County, New Jersey, in the United States. Founded in 1925, it is owned and run by the city of Paterson and its mission is to preserve and display the industrial history of Paterson...


Presumably as a tribute to this vessel, the submarine which features in Frank Herbert's
Frank Herbert
Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Although a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels...

 classic science-fiction novel of submarine warfare, The Dragon in the Sea
The Dragon in the Sea
The Dragon in the Sea , also known as Under Pressure from its serialization, is a novel by Frank Herbert. It was first serialized in Astounding magazine from 1955 to 1956, then reworked and published as a book in 1956...

, is named "Fenian Ram".

General characteristics

  • Displacement: 19 tons
  • Length: 9.4 metres (30.8 ft)
  • Diameter: 1.8 metres (5.9 ft)
  • Test depth: 18 metres (59.1 ft)
  • Complement: 3 men: operator, engineer, gunner
  • Armament: 230 mm (9 in) pneumatic gun

External links

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