Arthur L. Busch
(1866 - 1956)

Arthur Busch in Japan Arthur Busch (Submarine Centennial website)

Arthur Leopold Busch was born in Middlesborough, Yorkshire, England, on 5 March 1866. When he was thirteen, he began an apprenticeship with Craggs & Sons of Middlesborough. Seven and one half years later, he got a job as draftsman-in-charge at the Sir Raylton Dixon Company before moving to Ulster and working for Harland & Wolf. While still in England, he attended night school where he studied naval architecture. In January 1892, Arthur Busch emigrated to the United States and went to work as a draftsman for the Cramp Shipyard in Philadelphia. There he met Lieutenant Lewis Nixon.1

In 1895 Busch moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, and accepted the job of superintendent for Lewis Nixon’s Crescent Shipyard where the Holland VI was built. Busch worked with John Holland on the boat’s construction, helping Holland convert his ideas and sketches into blueprints and steel. In a letter to the editor of the Elizabeth Daily Journal, Joseph Holland stated “My father always felt that Mr. Dubusc [Busch] was entitled to credit in large measure for the success of the boat and it gives me great pleasure so to state.” 2

Arthur Busch went on to supervise the construction of the 'A' boats built at the Crescent Shipyard for the United States. When Lewis Nixon lost the contract for the 'B' boats, Electric Boat offered him a job. He oversaw the of construction of five type 7-P boats for Japan at the Fore River Works in Quincy, Massachusetts. Busch was also responsible for dismantling the boats, shipping them to Seattle by rail, transporting them from Seattle to Yokohama, Japan by freighter, and reassembling them at the Yokosuka Arsenal - all in secret because Japan was at war with Russia. The entire project, from keel laying to commissioning was completed in twelve months.3 Emperor Matsuhito awarded Arthur Busch the "Meiji Decoration 4th Class Merit, Rising Sun Ribbon" for his efforts.4

After returning from Japan, Busch went to work for Lewis Nixon as manager and naval architect of the Perth Amboy Shipyard in Perth Amboy, New Jersey. In 1906, he attempted to strike out on his own and asked John Holland for financial assistance. Holland replied “I cannot forbear giving you my candid opinion that at last you have started in to do the sensible thing both in your own interest and in that of American Shipbuilding” and “I much regret that I cannot be one of your backers. Law suits preempted all the money I had available, and I cannot tell when they will end.”5 Later, he wrote “Cheer up old man. It looks as if you would very soon be standing on your own legs instead of on Nixon’s.”6 In another letter dated February 25, 1908 from Holland to Busch, there are indications that Busch failed to obtain the backing he hoped for.

In 1909, Arthur Busch partnered with Thomas Moriarty to form The American Architectural Ship Building and Developing Company. Together, they proposed the construction of two or three man submarines of Busch's design for the Japanese government.

Arthur Busch was later employed as superintendent and naval architect for the New Jersey Drydock Company in Elizabeth, NJ, shipyard manager of the Moore Plant of the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Company (also in Elisabeth, NJ) and manager and advisor to the president of Eureka Shipbuilding in Newburgh, New York. He retired from shipbuilding around 1941.7

Arthur Busch died on 9 March 1956 at the age of 90. In a letter dated 24 June 1909, John Holland wrote "I can truly say that I have never met a more competent man in his business. He is an expert naval architect and shipbuilder... He is a man of the strictest integrity, a hustler and born manager of men."8

  1. Morris, Richard K.,"Who Built Those Subs?" Naval History Volume 12 Number 5, United States Naval Institute, October 1998.
  2. Letter from Joseph F. Holland to the editor of the Elizabeth Daily Journal dated March 29, 1937, (duBusc Collection, Submarine Force Library, Groton, CT).
  3. Letter of recommendation written by John P. Holland dated 24 June 1909, (Cutchogue Library, Cutchogue, New York).
  4. U.S. Navy Submarine Centennial website (chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/ships/submarines/centennial/pioneers3.html)
  5. Letter from John Holland to Arthur Busch dated January 1, 1906 (Graf Collection, Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ).
  6. Letter from John Holland to Arthur Busch dated October 18, 1906 (Graf Collection, Paterson Museum, Paterson, NJ).
  7. Resume of Arthur Busch, (Cutchogue Library, Cutchogue, New York).
  8. Letter of recommendation written by John P. Holland dated 24 June 1909, (Cutchogue Library, Cutchogue, New York).

Ó1999,2000,2001,2002 Gary McCue