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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 February 2008, 09:38 GMT
Engineers breaking-up WWII U-boat
U-534
There are only four full-size WWII German U-Boats in existence
Engineers have started a month-long operation to break up the only World War II German U-Boat in the UK to turn it into a new tourist attraction.

U-534, which is being moved to Mersey Ferries' Woodside ferry terminal in Birkenhead, will be split into five pieces using a diamond wire cutter.

The sections, each weighing up to 240 tonnes, will each take a day to move.

Visitors will be able to walk through sections of the U-boat when the exhibition opens in July.

The submarine currently stands at Mortar Mill Quay, near Birkenhead, where it formed part of the Historic Warships Museum, which closed last year.

Merseytravel, which owns and operates Mersey Ferries, bought the vessel to turn into a tourist attraction at its terminal.

It's a really important piece of history which we want to preserve
Neil Scales, Merseytravel

The first of the four sections to be removed is a 23m (75.4 ft) length of the bow, which will be moved by floating crane across the water.

Neil Scales, chief executive and director general of Merseytravel, said: "There are only four U-Boats left. One here, two in Germany and a sister boat of the U-534 in Chicago.

"It's a really important piece of history which we want to preserve.

"It's the latest in a series of developments we are undertaking to ensure Mersey Ferries maintains and enhances its position as the most popular paid-for attraction in our region.

"More people than ever before will be able to view the sub in its new location."

RAF depth charge

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.

The submarine, launched on 23 September 1942, was used as a training vessel in the Baltic, according to the museum.

U-534 was sunk on 5 May 1945, in the Kattegat, north-west of Helsingor, Denmark, by depth charges dropped by an RAF Liberator.

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

The warships museum was closed down after nearby warehouses were redeveloped and the land was needed for parking space.

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

SEE ALSO
U-boat to resurface as attraction
27 Jun 07 |  Merseyside
Submarine makes move to new home
13 Jun 06 |  England
Future of warships in the balance
18 Jan 06 |  Merseyside
Hopes sink for future of U-boat
14 Oct 05 |  Merseyside

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