MSI U-505 World War II Submarine- the story, the move and since

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Museum of Science and Industry honored the 70th anniversary (June 4, 2015) of the capture of the German submarine U-505 in the Atlantic June 4, 1944 (and coincidently 10 years since the move to a permanent indoor exhibit space) by receiving and honoring the surviving members of the capture team and persons who served on the involved U.S. Navy vessels. Full articles were published in the June 5 2014 issues ofd the Sun-Times and the Tribune.

Some sources (thanks for additions: M.M. Thomas)

Museum of Science and Industry website: Cites articles reproduced here and others, full descriptions
Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-boat War in the Atlantic, ed. T. Savas (2004) Kriegsmarie U-boats 1939-1945, C. Bishop (2006) pp.33-4.
Submarines and Underwater Exploration, B. LaFontaine
Announcements/releases about the restoration and exhibit project

U-505 project in Chicago on schedule (3 Mar, 2005)
U-505 being moved (12 Apr, 2004)
U-505 to have its original periscope back (14 Sep, 2002)
U-505 needs repairs (11 Nov, 1997)

The restored sub and its mammoth exhibit are spectacular, broad-based and moving, even sobering. There was a very nice party for the neighborhood on June 5 2005 ahead of the public opening.

There was a private opening ceremony on June 4, 2005, the 61st anniversary of the sub's capture off the coast of Africa in 1944. 100 veterans of the Second World War and Germans were present. They have been involved in the project since before its inception.

"The U-505 is a symbol of what the Museum does best," said David Mosena, Museum of Science and Industry president and CEO, in a November 13, 2003 press release. "We present unforgettable educational experiences that are one-of-a-kind. But, most of all, the submarine is an important part of our world history and a rare example of naval technology. We are committed to its preservation for years to come."

At an April 5, 2004 news conference, Museum of Science and Industry president David Mosena donned hard hat and explained minutia of preparations to move the stabilized U-505 ever so slowly and carefully and by circuitous route around the east end of the Museum to a new underground exhibit area. The viewing deck will open with a special event for donors and notables on Thursday, April 8. We hope to have pictures up soon after the move starts.

One of the prize exhibits of the Museum of Science and Industry is a German World War II submarine, U-505, the only such sub captured by the Allies, precariously towed to the U.S. and, after rotting at port for ten years, brought through Lake Michigan, across Lake Shore Drive, and parked outside the east pavilion of the Museum of Science and Industry. Recognized as a National Historic Landmark in 1989, the elements, vandals, and a constant stream of visitors with their breath and tread in the tight quarters have taken a toll. Several organizations, including veterans, have worked with the Museum to raise the funds to construct a new permanent underground facility northeast of the museum. State and federal funding were key elements, as well as Chicago Plan Commission approval of the move, amongst a suite of museum concepts approved in 1995.

The move of this 880-metric-ton (700 English tons) "artifact" required very thoughtful planning. Impact on the lawn panels will in the end be minimal, except stairs from emergency exits. The structure has a tunnel under a new Museum Drive moved closer to the building. And the construction is tightly placed and articulated in conjunction with the museum parking garage, the current building (shored up with concrete footings in the 1920's), the 57th underpass and Lake Shore Drive (then still under reconstruction), and drainage/electrical infrastructure. The structure is 40 feet deep. The east drive was subsequently straightened and located between the new building and the museum.

The submarine was buttressed and reinforced (temporarily and permanently), then shifted to a 26-wheel trailer. It was moved over about three days (high wind stalled it out a bit longer) sometime April, 2004. It was moved on a set of giant wheel/dollies, independently motorized and movable, much as containers and ships are moved at ports. The turning radii are tight, including a three-point turn. Columbia Basin and the ancient oak grove southeast of it were not impacted. Several small to medium sized trees will were removed, some just for the time of the move, and the large metal fence at the former railroad exhibit were temporarily removed.

To lower the sub, it was rolled onto giant I-beams then the wheels removed. The pit had giant steel construction towers counter tensioned with cables. Inside each tower were a tower of wooden blocks, to be removed a few at a time for lowering in stages, a total of six feet an hour. The pit is 40 feet deep.

Museum Vice President Joel Asprooth says, "It is an artifact, and we are concerned that it remain in the same condition at the end of the move as when we started." Lowering the sub into its "pen" took little more than a day.

Some facts: Length 252 feet. Width 37 feet. Weight 700 tons (880 metric).
Cost to move to MSI in 1954- $250,000. Current project $35 million.
Where the "Submarine Crossing"
sign from the 1954 move across the Drive is now: Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap.
Visitors since 1954: 24 million.
History: Built 1941, Hamburg. Captured June 4, 1944 off West Africa. Moved to MSI 1954
National Historic Landmark 1989
Move anticipated: Chicago Plan Commission hearing/appr. 1995; announced 1997, cost est. $35M
Reopening date: Spring, 2005

The Sub undertook several journeys after its capture off Africa June 4, 1944: Towed to Bermuda. Towed to dock at Portsmouth, NH with trips to several eastern cities after the war ended in Europe (to sell war bonds to defeat Japan). In 1954 Towed up the St. Lawrence and 4 of the 5 Great Lakes to Chicago, then on rail-skids across 57th beach and Lake Shore Drive. Iconic picturs included the sub resting near the beach in the water (a blowup can be seen in Clarke's Diner on 53rd Street) and of the sub on the Drive. Exact date of the Sub move over Lake Shore Drive Drive closed evening of Sept. 2) was September 6, 1954 (thanks to Sam Guard for tracking this down). It was quite an engineering feat to create a roll bar et al system so that neither the sub nor the pavement were crushed. And it took about a week to maneuver the sub into its "bay" by the trains on the east side of the Museum (c. 800 ft from the lake to the Museum). An extension from the Museum gave access in such a way as you believed the sub was inside. A favorite of tours was viewing the lake and skyline through the periscope.
In 2004 it was moved on giant wheels 2000 feet around the museum, positioned, then lowered on giant jacks 40 feet into its exhibit then carefully rotated to a balanced rest on piers.

Quick summary from website and from a Museum of Science and Industry brochure.

Type IXC
Laid down 12 Jun, 1940 Deutsche Werft AG, Hamburg
Commissioned 26 Aug, 1941 Kptlt. Axel-Olaf Loewe
Commanders 26 Aug, 1941 - 5 Sep, 1942 KrvKpt. Axel-Olaf Loewe
6 Sep, 1942 - 24 Oct, 1943 Kptlt. Peter Zschech
24 Oct, 1943 - 7 Nov, 1943 Oblt. Paul Meyer (in deputize) -- acting
8 Nov, 1943 - 4 Jun, 1944 Oblt. Harald Lange

Career 12 patrols 26 Aug, 1941 - 31 Jan, 1942 4. Flottille (training)
1 Feb, 1942 - 4 Jun, 1944 2. Flottille (front boat)

Successes 8 ships sunk for a total of 44.962 GRT
Fate Captured at sea west of Africa on 4 June, 1944 by ships and Wildcat aircraft of the US Navy task force 22.3, escort carrier USS Guadalcanal, destroyer escorts USS Pillsbury, USS Chatelain, USS Flaherty, USS Jenks and USS Pope. 1 dead and 59 survivors.

Quick sub description as distributed by the Museum. Orig. from Bruce LaFontaine, Submarines and Underwater Exploration. (This is a vast story that has to be digested bit by bit in the giant exhibit and cannot be given in detail here. Note that several components were retrofited with advanced models during the war.)

Early World War II Type VII German Submarine, 1939 (However, this site has received a text message in July 2007 from M M Thomas that the correct Type is IXC.)

With the advent of World War II in 1939, submarine technology accelerated rapidly. Wartime needs caused tremendous expenditures, research, and development in all areas of science and industry. The German "Kriegsmarine" (war navy) developed a large fleet of fast and capable ocean-going submarines for their war of aggression.

The workhorses of this fleet during the first few years of the war were the Type VII U-boats. First launched in 1936, numerous models of t he Type VII saw extensive combat during the war years. They became a serious threat to the warships and merchant vessels for the Allied powers crossing the Atlantic. As weapons, troops, and other war materiel critical to the war effort were transported by sea from the United States to Great Britain, German submarines prowled undersea in multiple-boat "Wolf packs," taking a huge toll of hundreds of sunken Allied ships.

The Type VII submarines were 221-feet long, twenty-one fet wide, and displaced 770 tons. They were powered by diesel engines and [when not on the surface] electric motors driving twin stern screws. Top speed was seventeen knots on the surface and eight knots submerged. They could reach a depth of 350 feet. The boat's deck armament consisted of an eighty-eight millimeter gun and four twenty-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. The Type VII had five torpedo tubes, four in the bow and one stern-mounted. They normally carried between eleven and fifteen torpedoes on a combat patrol. Over 700 Type VII submarines were constructed during the war years.


Keys to its capture

In 1943 the Allies were just starting to turn the tide in the war on U-boats. Captain Gallery, a Chicago native who had directed bases using aircraft to track and sink U-boats with increasing success, was put in charge of a special naval convoy, Task Force 22.3, a hunt-and-kill mission against U-boats armed with advanced radar and other technology and led by the Guadalcanal. Watching the destruction of U-515, Gallery became convinced he could capture a U-boat so its invaluable code and technical details could be used against the Germans.

The Navy already had a division of WAVES designated the 10th Fleet working with "Bombe" machines (early computers) to continue the work of breaking the Enigma Code as well as to track submarines. Without their work, the U-505 would never have been found, let alone been useful. During spring 1944 this sub was in the Task Force's sights off Africa, but by early June was not pinpointed. The hunt was being aborted due to lack of fuel when the Chatelain detected it with radar and a plane sighted it and strafed the water to mark the spot. Then, as the race to reach U-505 started, a bombardment was undertaken with enough firepower to force 505 to surface and terrorize the crew into abandoning it but not enough to destroy or even seriously damage it. The capture, prevention of sinking or self-destruct, and salvage involved a combination of amazing bravery and skill with almost impossible luck or providence again and again. Let the exhibit tell you that story. Incredibly, the secret capture remained a secret until after the fall of Germany.

Incidentally, there was only one loss of life, one of the German crew of 59. The prisoners were held in Louisiana (and did try to get the word out), their families being informed by the Germans that the crew must be presumed dead. In later 1945, the families were informed of the truth and the last German was repatriated in 1947. In 1964, by-now-Admiral Gallery and U-505 Captain Lange conducted a taped interview at the sub in the Museum. Top

U-505 going underground

Hyde Park Herald, November 26, 2003. By Maurice Lee

The "U" in the name of the Museum of Science and Industry's premier attraction will shortly stand for "underground" as the museum sails the historic boat into a new climate-controlled sub house be[ing] constructed underneath its front lawn.

Sunday morning June 4, 1944, in a wild combination of careful planning, chutzpah and blind luck, a American carrier task force, led by Chicagoan Captain Daniel V. Gallery, captured the German U-505 submarine, the first vessel captured in battle by the U.S. since the War of 1812. After a frenetic battle, during which destroyers salted the Nazi submarine with depth charges, the Navy captured the U-505 after a 26-year-old Seaman First Class named Zenon Lukosius boarded the sinking boat and shut off a scuttling valve flooding it with sea water.

Since 1954, the historic vessel—the only "unterseeboot" or U-Boat in the U.S. and one of only five left in the world—has been a part of the permanent collection of the Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Dr., and stored outside near the Columbia Basin. The number one exhibit at the museum, the U-505 has played host to more than 24 million visitors in its nearly 50 years in residence. But the extreme fluctuations of the Chicago temperature and humidity have taken their toll on the national landmark in the form of a creeping rust grinding the ste[e]l-hulled U-Boat to dust.

The museum's mission, according to museum President David Mosena, is simple. "It is our duty to ensure that this artifact survives," proclaimed Mosena.

To save the boat, the museum has embarked on a $35 million project to get it out of the weather. Planning began on the project in 1999 and th museum has already raised more th[a]n $24 million, much of it through individual donations.

The new sub house will feature 35,000 square feet of exhibit space laid out around the U-505. Patrons will enter the sub house through an underground tunnel connecting from the museum's East Pavilion and walk around the sub on a fully handicap accessible ramp descending to the exhibit floor. Museum Vice-President of Exhibits and Collections Kurt Haunfelner said the project will result in a "dramatic new exhibit" where visitors will get up close to the submarine. "Visitors will be able to view the boat in its entirely from six feet away," said Haunfelner.

The project, underway since last spring, is currently on schedule and set to open in the spring of 2005. U-505 will close to the public Jan. 4, 2004 and remain closed for more than a year. This winter the submarine will be prepped for the move to its new home between March and April. The Herald reported in September that in order to achieve the move, the museum's contractor will first buttress the structural weak points in the submarine with both a temporary and permanent reinforcements and then shift the sub to a 26-wheel trailer and roll it to the front of the museum.

After the sub is rolled out of the museum, it will turn and back out onto Science Drive. The sub will then make a three-point turn and run north along columbia Drive to its destination, where it will be lowered into the housing. Once the submarine is installed, crews will then pour a concrete roof over the sub house and replace the lawn section. The 2,000-foot trip to the sub's new home is expected to take about three or four days.


Battered sub heading to underground shelter

Chicago Tribune, November 14, 2003. By James Janega

When the World War II German submarine U-505 last went under way, tugboats pulled it from a port in New Hampshire to Chicago, taking a month in 1954 to travel 3,000 miles through the St. Lawrence Seaway and across the Great Lakes, at a cost of $250,000.

Next year, the Museum of Science and Industry will move the submarine a quarter of a mile over six weeks, then lower it into a new $35 million underground building, where it will remain on exhibit. The new 35,000-square-foot building will give museum patrons a chance not only to tour the submarine—as they could at its current location—but also allow them to walk above, under and around the sub, so close they can almost touch its pitted steel plating.

Interactive exhibits will be alongside, enabling visitors to peer through periscopes, pilot a virtual submarine and exchange and decode messages with other patrons on Enigma code machines like the one captured on the U-505 on June 4, 1944. "One will immediately be able to feel the dramatic scale and impact of the boat itself . For the first time ever, guests can view the boat in its entirety," said Kurt Haunfelner, the museum's vice president of exhibitions and collections. "In our new facility, you'll be able to walk up right to the hull."

Making that experience possible has taken since 1997, when planning got underway for what appeared to be an $11.5 million project. Since then, the expected cost has risen to a projected $35 million, said museum President and CEO David Mosena.

The U-505 was launched from Hamburg, Germany, in 1941 and served in the North Atlantic, where U-boats had an average three-month life expectancy, said U-505 curator Keith Gill. Though German crew members considered the U-505 a lucky ship because it was never sunk in wartime, its engineers never had Chicago's brutal winters and torturous summer humidity in mind when they built it.

"It's fading quickly," said Mosena. Because the boat is heated for tours during the winter months, condensation freezes on the bulkheads during cold weather, with predictable results, he said. "The boat is literally rusting from within." White paint chips in the control room flutter in the artificial breeze of heating fans. Steel near the aft torpedo tubes is s brittle as corn flakes.

"Most of the problems that we're facing today actually started in 1946," Gill said. That was when the U.S. Navy stuck the U-505 in a storage pen in Portsmouth, N.H., and let it rot at the waterline next to other German subs seized at the end of the war. They expected to scrap it once they had learned all they could from the ship.

The Museum of Science and Industry, along with Daniel V. Gallery, a Chicagoan and captain of the American flotilla that captured the sub, persuaded the Navy to turn the sub over to the museum in 1954. It was dedicated that September as a monument to the 55,000 U.S. sailors killed during World War II. Since then, the U-505 has been exposed to 24 million visitors and relentless weather that flakes so much rust off the hull it's swept into deep brown piles.

Every 10 years or so, the ship was sandblasted and repainted, its pine deck replaced and slathered with tar, at a cost of $200,000 to $500,000 each time, Gill said. In parts, sandblasting rust had blown away more than two-thirds of the quarter-inch-thick hull plating, he said. Parts of the hull have had to be replaced. "We want to keep as much of the original left as possible," Gill said.

Museum experts believe the corrosion will stop once the sub is moved into its new home, where the humidity and temperature will be regulated.

On Jan. 4, the U-505 exhibit will be closed and preparations to move the submarine will begin. Ground was broken last February for the sub's new home on the northeast corner of the museum, where the 40-foot-deep, 300-foot-long hole looked Thursday like an empty in-ground swimming pool. The new exhibition area will be finished over the winter and connected to the main museum building via an underground tunnel, said architect Leonard Koroski of Lohan Caprile Goettsch.

The ship will be moved when weather breaks in mid-March or early-April, using specially designed brackets wrapped around the U-505's keel and hull. Twenty-four jacks used for lifting ship hulls will hoist the 700-ton craft from the concrete piers that supported it for 49 years, then transfer the weight to motorized dollies. The U-505 will then roll at a stately pace nearly 2,000 feet around the east side of the museum building and then lowered over two days into its new home.

"It's going to be like watching the grass grow," promised Ralph Di Caprio, vice president of Norsar, the engineers moving the sub. The entire process will take six weeks, of which four days will be the actual overland journey.

The new exhibit will reopen in spring, 2005.


German U-boat revitalizes Museum, attracts history buff. U-505 submarine, acquired in 1954, travels to new underground exhibit to pull in crowds of community spectators

Chicago Maroon, April 20, 2004. By Rachel Levine

Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) may pale in comparison to the underground train systems of other metropolises, but how many other cities can boast German U-boats in their basements?

On April 8, the Museum of Science and Industry began moving its U-505 German submarine the 2000 feet from its outdoor location at the [east] side of the Museum campus to a new underground exhibit space at the [northeast] end. Countless visitors, many of them U of C students, have viewed the submarine since the the Museum acquired it in 1954.

"The U-505 is a symbol of what the Museum does best," said David Mosena, Museum president and CEO, in a November 13, 2003 press release. "We present unforgettable educational experiences that are one-of-a-kind. But, most of all, the submarine is an important part of our world history and a rare example of naval technology. We are committed to its preservation for years to come."

The decision to move the submarine underground is intended to protect it from damage from the elements. The public, meanwhile, is invited to watch the submarine as it is moved to its new home at the breakneck speed of approximately 14 inches per hour.

Even though the two-week process of moving of the submarine will continue until April 22, many University students have already taken a trip to see the U-boat in motion. "[The submarine] is one of my favorite exhibits at the museum," said Jane Shiu, a first-year in the College. "It's not every day you get to see a submarine moved. It's really cool how they're preserving it for others to see."

There are five remaining German U-boats in the world. The four are in outdoor locations in Germany and England.

The submarine will be part of a new exhibit, scheduled to open in 2005, that will discuss American involvement in World War II and the lives of soldiers living on a U-boat. The museum projects that the exhibit will attract over 2 million visitors annually. The new exhibit will include up-close views of many artifacts, including real torpedoes, periscopes, German medals, binoculars, and cigarettes. Visitors will also have the opportunity to squeeze into a recreation of a U-505 bunk.

Despite the fact that the new exhibit will have a strong historical component, its appeal is widespread. "Even though I'm not a history person, I think there's something I could learn from it just by being there,said Patricia Tam, a first-year in the College.

To move the submarine the Museum hired NORSAR, an engineering firm specializing in transporting and lifting large industrial and marine objects. "Our crews have mapped out every angle and square foot that this sub will maneuver over the course of several weeks," said NORSAR's vice president of operations Ralph DiCaprio in an April 5, 2004 press release. "This is a sophisticated move that requires, science, technology, and ingenuity."

The submarine is 252 feet long, 37 feet wide, and it weighs 700 tons.

In addition to moving the submarine, the Museum has gone to great lengths to restore it, using photographs, paint chips, and veteran accounts to discover its original color. "We are taking extraordinary efforts to restore and conserve the submarine and make it part of a brand new visitor experience that will be a wonderful mix of science, technology, and history," said Kurt Haunfelner, the Museum's vice president of exhibits and collections in a press release.

The Museum first announced plans to move the submarine in 1997, predicting that the project would require $35 million. To date. over $24 million have been raised, more than 24 percent of which has some from 4,000 individual donors.

The Museum's submarine was captured on June 4, 1944 off the coast of West Africa by US Naval Captain Daniel Gallery of the USS Guadalcanal Task Force.

Film of the submarine's engine was included in the movie "U-572" (2000), starring Matthew McConaughey.


A brief walk through the new exhibit before you go

Enter from the east side of the Museum, starting with a visual-history tour of World War II, focusing on the Atlantic Theater. Highlights are 4 stations with video narrated by Bill Kurtis, murals by Richard Moore, and a set of holograms.

U-505 then comes into view, first seen stern end-on. A light display from below shimmers and simulates what it might be like to see the Sub moving underwater. And this is the first time visitors have been able to view the sub from deck level.

You then circle around the sub and more interactive exhibits, crew biographies, and real torpedoes or replicas including conning tower, periscope, sleeping quarters, galley, records, personal items. (Yes, they offer to take your pic in front of the sub, cost $15 and up.)

The main event, of course, is a tour of the vessel at $5. Warning: quarters are extremely cramped inside the sub, in places literally single file.

This is followed by more narrated videos and interactive's.


Views and photo gallery

The following photo gallery shows the submarine and part of its route and construction progress. Later we hope to show the move. Of interest also is the photo showing the exposed old (1920's) foundation of the Museum. Unfortunately, the wooden board mold impressions do not show up.

First: view through the c. 200-year-old oak grove north to the U-505. The sub will be pivoted to the fence (which will come down), moved forward, then pointed east. Upon arrival in the Columbia parking lot, the sub will be swiveled and backed southward, then brought straight north until it passes the northeast edge of the Museum. Then it will be rotated 90 degrees, moved west, then slung over the pit for the new building and slid/dropped in. Then final buildout and roofing of the exhibit structure begins.

Photos: Gary Ossewaarde: Below summer, 2002, rest (to date) March, 2003 at the informational site visit (not normally accessible to the public). Note the concrete pillars the sub has rested on since 1954. Last: November, 2003 Chicago Tribune.

sub waiting to come out of open-air resting place at east edge of old Museum. Looking across ancient oak stand The sub's home for 50 years
Sub in place, being inspcted by interested and community partners (walk-ghrough) Walking around the path the sub will take to new pen and exhibit area
Pit being dug northeast corner of Museum Start of sub U505 pit
construction scene

These Norway maples at the east drive and directly east of the new Submarine exhibit structure were slated to be lost.

Pit and subground wll of Museum subground being dug up by Muesum wall
Pit Later, the walls are sunk and dirt dug out

In front of the fence is the edge of the museum parking garage.