Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Sliced-up submarine gets ready for a new home


Liverpool Daily Post
By Richard Down
February 06, 2008

WORK has started on cutting up the wartime German U-boat in Birkenhead docks.

Engineers using a special diamond wire cutter will slice the sub into four sections.

The decision to chop up the U-boat has attracted some controversy, but the costs of moving the submarine intact are said to have been too expensive.

Instead each section, weighing up to 240 tons, will be moved by floating crane from its present site at Mortar Mill Quay to Mersey Ferries’ Woodside Ferry Terminal. The overall operation will take about a month to complete.

First to ship out to Woodside is a 23-metre length of the bow.

The cuts have been designed with such precision the U-534 could be re-assembled if required. A glass panel will be installed over the end of each section to allow visitors to see inside the submarine from viewing platforms.

Netherlands-based Royal Haskoning is project managing the operation from its office in Liverpool.

David Ricketts, director of infrastructure and building, said: “It is one of the most unusual projects the company has ever undertaken. There are complications because engineers are not often asked to calculate the exact weight of an old U-boat.”

Preliminary work has started on the exhibition area at Woodside, which will include artefacts from the sub and other memorabilia portraying the history of undersea warfare. It is due to open this summer.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, which owns and operates Mersey Ferries, said: “We’re now moving on to the next stage in what is an exciting project to boost tourism on Merseyside.

“More people than ever before will be able to view the sub in its new location. Previously, youngsters under the age of 16 were not allowed to enter the craft.

“Our plans for the sub will now make a trip on the Mersey Ferries an even more memorable experience as well as complementing the wider regeneration of the Woodside development.”

The future of U-534 was in doubt after the Historic Warship Museum at Birkenhead, where it was displayed, closed two years ago.

THE U-534 was sunk by an RAF bomber in the Kattegat between Denmark and Sweden on May 6, 1945, just 48 hours before the end of the war in Europe.

She was raised from the sea bed in 1993, and is believed to be one of only four surviving World War II U-boats.



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