Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Slicing up a sub!


This is Lancashire
By Nick Yates
March 12, 2008

ENGINEERS at a Westhoughton-based drilling and cutting firm have used their skills to create a unique slice of World War Two history.

Holemasters Demtech, a specialist diamond drilling and cutting firm that employs 33 drillers and an administration staff of six at its Bolton depot, was contracted to slice up a Second World War German U-Boat by its owners, Merseytravel.

The submarine, known as U- 534, was brought to Liverpool in 1996 and formed part of the Historic Warship Museum at Mortar Mill Quay, Birkenhead.

It was destined for scrap until Merseytravel, the Liverpool transport and tourism body, stepped in with a plan to make the U-Boat part of a new tourist attraction at Woodside Ferry Terminal on the River Mersey.

Holemasters has just finished slicing the aging submarine into sections, so visitors can get a real idea of what life was like inside the crafts so dreaded by Allied ships during World War Two.

Andrew Doyle, technical manager of Holemasters Sellafield, was responsible for designing and delivering the project.

He said: "We were contacted with a request to see if it would be possible to cut the U-Boat into five sections. We decided the best solution was to use diamond wire, so we designed a bespoke system to undertake the task which we have completed successfully."

He added: "We have cut steel previously, but not on this scale. The complexity is that you are not just cutting one face, you could be cutting six or eight faces at one time, including items of pipe work valves, ballast tanks, pressure hull and internal services.

"On the stern section, we cut through the drive shafts that were 300mm of solid steel. We used a series of pullies to control the wire's angle of attack, creating straight clean cuts and maximising the cutting potential."

The sections, which weigh 240 tons each, will each take a day to move by floating crane to the new home at Woodside. The first section, currently being removed, is a 23-metre length of the bow.

Huge glass panels will be installed at Woodside, over the end of each section, to allow visitors to see inside U- 534 from specially built viewing platforms.

The craft will be located close to a full scale model of Resurgum, the world's first submarine.



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