Commissioned in Hamburg in late 1942, the U 534 is a Type IX C 40 long-range ocean going submarine. She was launched on 23 September 1942 and entered service on 23 December under the command of Herbert Nollau.
The U-boat is one of only four German WWII submarines in preserved condition remaining in the world. U-534 was mainly used as a weapons testing platform, and until the late summer of 1944 was also used as a weather ship in the North Atlantic.
The total length of U-534 is exactly 251 ft 10 in. The pressure hull length is 192 ft 9 in, while the height measures some 31 ft 6 in. She was powered when on the surface by two MAN-M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines.
At the tail end of World War II, the final U-boat to set out from Germany, U-534, was alerted that the war was over and that they should surrender. On 5 May 1945, for unknown reasons, the captain of U-534 ignored the surrender order and set course for Norway instead.
On May 5th R.A.F. Liberator from Coastal Command sank U-534 off the Danish Island of Anholt. U-534 had a crew of 52 men, all of whom escaped and 49 survived. Five were trapped in the torpedo room as she began to sink but escaped through the torpedo loading hatch once the boat had settled on the sea bed.
Was she going to carry a leading Nazi to South America via Norway? Or was she carrying treasure looted from the occupied countries to help those Nazi who had already escaped to South America by other routes? Theories ranging from a rogue captain to secret experimental weapons were posited as the remains of the ship rusted away at the bottom of the ocean, but no answers were forthcoming.
The wreck of U-534 was discovered by a Danish wreck hunter, Aage Jensen, in 1986 and salvage operation started in August 1993.
She was raised to the surface on 23 August 1993 and upon opening the salvage team realized that, after all, the lost Nazi gold will continue to linger among legends. And the question of why U-534 failed to surrender also remains a mystery.
Transported to Birkenhead, England, in 1996, the vessel formed part of the Warship Preservation Trust’s collection at Birkenhead Docks until the museum closed on 5 February 2006.
In 2007 The U534 was cut into sections and moved to a new purpose built museum at the Woodside Ferry Terminal. The museum was renewed in 2009, under the name “The U-Boat Story”.