Monday, March 10, 2008

New destination for WWII U-boat


March 10, 2008

Work is under way to move the only World War II German submarine in the UK to a new location.

The U-534 has been stationed at Mortar Mill Quay, near Birkenhead, Merseyside, in the Historic Warships Museum, until it closed last year.

Now the 900-ton U-boat, which is too big to move in one piece, has been cut into five parts and is being floated to Woodside Ferry Terminal in Birkenhead.

Once it has been put back together it will become a tourist attraction.

Merseytravel, which owns and operates Mersey Ferries, bought the U-boat to house it at its terminal.

Work to divide the vessel into portable sections took a month to complete and it is expected to take barges another week to transport the parts along the River Mersey.

Historical importance

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, said: "It's a really important piece of history which we want to preserve."

The Imperial War Museum confirmed there are only four full-size WWII German U-Boats in existence, and that U-534 is the only one in the UK.

According to the museum's archives, the submarine, which was launched on 23 September 1942, was used as a training vessel in the Baltic.

However, it was sunk less than three years later on 5 May 1945 by depth charges dropped by an RAF Liberator.

The vessel was salvaged in 1993 and brought to the UK in May 1996, before becoming a popular tourist attraction in Seacombe, Wirral.

The new exhibition at Woodside, which includes artefacts from the submarine and an enigma machine, is due to open in July.



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