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Posted on Jun 1, 2005 in History News

U-505 Submarine to Resurface June 5, 2005

Editorial Staff

CHICAGO, June 1, 2005 – The Museum of Science and Industry’s much anticipated U-505 Submarine exhibit officially opens to the public on Sunday, June 5. The new underground, climate-controlled exhibit will showcase the story of the German sub’s legendary capture in World War II. It will also explore technology and life aboard the vessel-now the world’s only remaining Type IX-C submarine and a National Historic Landmark.

U-505 Submarine
Photo credit: Scott Brownell, Museum of Science and Industry

The new exhibit will offer multiple interactive units, nearly 200 artifacts, archival newspapers and photography, videos narrated by Bill Kurtis, radio transmissions, re-enactments of key events, dramatic artwork, as well as exciting testimonials from the veterans of Task Group 22.3 who made the remarkable capture.


"The new U-505 Submarine exhibit is a testimony to the strength, courage and leadership of the brave men and women who fought for the United States in World War II," said David Mosena, president and CEO of the Museum of Science and Industry. "This $35-million project to preserve, move and create an amazing new exhibit surrounding the U-505 is unparalleled in the Museum’s history and will captivate visitors of all ages. It would not have succeeded without the significant leadership gift from the McCormick Tribune Foundation, and the generous time and support of thousands who contributed to the project."

The exhibit begins by immersing guests into the history and milestones of World War II, Hitler’s drive for control and the Battle of the Atlantic. Guests will learn about the use of U-boats as a deadly tactic in keeping necessary supplies from the Allies. In 1942, the U-boats sank an incredible 1,150 Allied ships, sending thousands of men to their deaths and a staggering 7.8 million tons of vital war supplies to the bottom of the Atlantic.

Early in 1943, the Allies faced a simple choice: come up with a plan to defeat the U-boats or risk losing the war. Small task groups were formed, usually consisting of one small escort aircraft carrier and four or five destroyer escorts. As guests navigate the exhibit they are introduced to Navy Captain Daniel Gallery, a Chicagoan, who led one of these groups, Hunter-Killer Task Group 22.3. Gallery was determined not only to find a German U-boat as it was prowling the dangerous seas, but also to capture and bring it back for its wealth of intelligence information.

Guests will then encounter a secret tracking room that was staffed heavily by the WAVES: Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service. Here the battle against the U-boats played out like a giant chess game-a game with real and deadly consequences. With the WAVES’ help, Gallery and his crew learned of their close proximity to the U-505 and went in for the capture. These powerful images and stories, combined with dramatic surround-sound sound effects, all lead up to the exciting moment where guests will turn a corner and come in direct contact with the 252-foot, 700-ton sub!

Guests will wind their way down to the lower level of the exhibit and come "face to face" with this monumental vessel. For the first time, they will be able to view the length of the sub, and its deck, from above. The exterior of the sub has been completely refurbished, and with exacting research, it has been returned to its original paint colors. Dramatic lighting effects make the sub seem as if it is still prowling the depths of the Atlantic.

If guests have purchased tickets for the optional on-board tour, they will now take a journey back in time, to see just how the crew of a submarine lived and worked on the high seas during World War II. Led by an exhibit interpreter, visitors will be able to view authentically recreated crewmen bunks and the galley, wedged in among the mechanical workings of the sub. They will see just how crowded life was on board this vessel, as well as the intricate mechanics that made the sub function.

Surrounding the sub, on the lower floor of the exhibit, several interactive units will explain how a submarine like the U-505 navigated the seas and engaged the enemy:

Crack the Code: Guests can decipher and encipher covert messages with the use of the complex Enigma code-the code by which German forces communicated in secret. Enigma messages can be transmitted from guest to guest via four interactive computer stations or sent to friends and family via the Internet.
Dive Trainer: In a recreation of the sub’s control room, two visitors at a time attempt to maneuver the sub through a controlled dive by adjusting the bow and stern dive planes, while battling against dangerous depth charges that could force the vessel to surface.
Life On Board: Visitors are exposed to the sights, sounds and feel of the sub’s close quarters during wartime. They can take a bunk, see the sub’s tiny galley, climb through the hatch and hear the background sounds that represented life on patrol in 1944.
On Patrol: A recreated portion of the sub’s conning tower is complete with both an attack and a navigational periscope. Through the use of these periscopes, guests attempt to launch a torpedo as well as determine their vessel’s bearings and decide whether it is safe to surface.
Buoyancy Challenge: Here, visitors will learn about buoyancy-the principle by which a submarine is able to adjust its depth. In an 11-foot tall tank of water, visitors experience a timed challenge to alter the buoyancy of a model sub by adding water or air to its ballast tanks.

The exhibit will finish with a stop in the Gallery/Lange Theater, where guests can see a short video that chronicles the reconciliatory 1964 meeting between Captain Daniel Gallery and Harald Lange, the German captain of the captured U-505. As guests make their way out of the exhibit, they will enter the Tribute and Memorial Area, which honors the 2,200 brave members of Task Force 22.3 by name as well as the Merchant Marines, the WAVES and the German crew of the U-505.

U-505 in its old location outside the Museum

Details of the Construction:
Construction for the 35,000 square-foot exhibit began in February 2003. The previous U-505 exhibit closed in January 2004 and in April, the boat began its complex move from the southeast side of the Museum to the northeast side of the building with the help of 18 self-powered dollies, guided by remote control, moving one inch per minute. The intricate transport of the boat was directed by NORSAR Inc., an engineering transport and lifting company that specializes in moving barges and other large industrial objects.

The U-505 was moved more than 1,000 feet, over the course of several days, and had to make several 90-degreeturns. It was lowered, four inches at a time, into its new home-the underground exhibit space, which measures75 x 300 feet and 42-feet deep.

The sub became a part of the Museum’s permanent collection in 1954, and was docked outside the Museum, exposed to Chicago’s elements, for almost 50 years. Approximately 1,000 hours were spent repairing and conserving the submarine prior to its move. A crew of six men spent five months welding, cleaning and repairing the hull to make its structurally sound.

The 35,000-square-foot U-505 exhibit is included in general admission the Museum. The optional on-board tour of the sub, however, will be time-ticketed and $5 per person. Capacity is limited. Advance tickets will be on sale on June 5, 2005 at or at the Museum. For quick entry into the Museum, guests are encouraged to buy Museum tickets online.

The Museum of Science and Industry’s mission is to inspire the inventive genius in everyone by presenting captivating and compelling experiences that are real and educational. Located at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, the Museum is open every day of the year except December 25. Regular Museum hours are 9:30 a.m. until 4:00 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Sunday. Extended hours are offered during peak periods throughout the year. General admission is $9 for adults, $7.50 for seniors and $5 for kids 3-11. City of Chicago residents receive a discount. The Museum offers indoor parking and is accessible by CTA and Metra. The Museum is supported in part through the generosity of the people of Chicago through the Chicago Park District. For more information, visit the Museum’s Web site at or call (773) 684-1414or (800) GO-TO-MSI outside of the Chicago area.