The U-5075, a training kleinst-u-boot, was brought to the US for testing and evaluation in 1945. Then parts of it (the periscope, passive sonar and torpedoes) were removed for further evaluation. Our ”075” was then put on display at the Groton Submarine Base (SuBase), in front of the administrative building. It sat there for about 50 years being ignored and neglected. Then it was moved to the USS Nautilus Museum just outside the main gate of the SuBase. In 1997 it was given a marine survey (a professional damage/deterioration evaluation). A few years later, our museum in Quincy got the Seehund. This was because the Nautilus Museum needed the Seehund’s space so it could display the US Navy’s 50-foot X-1 four-man u-boot. Incidentally the X-1 also needs restoration.
INITIAL OBSERVATIONS. The problems with our Seehund being outside were: 1. A black-painted tube being in the hot sunshine during the day, 2. Cool and cold nights (condensation) 3. Poor (no) interior ventilation, 4. The air at the Atlantic coast is generally damp, 5. There are microscopic particles of salt suspended in the air near the seacoast. Additionally there was much salt trapped in hard to reach locations when the Seehund was used in sea water. One final insult: our Seehund had also suffered corrosion problems from birds nesting and messing inside the boat. Before we found the birds’ nests (with many cigarette butts) we believed the legend that the students at the SuBase school hid inside 075 and took extended cigarette breaks. Klaus Mattes, author of Die Seehunde, visited us for a week and loaned us copies made of the original builder’s plans and gave us extensive imagery and data. He also made his own observations of what had to be done. The 1997 surveyor’s report was very pessimistic about the chances of redoing the interior of our Seehund. However, Klaus Mattes was much more optimistic since Seehunde in Germany have been rebuilt after having suffered major corrosion damage after being submerged in salt water for 50-plus years.
INITIAL WORK. James Fahey, the historian/archivist stripped the rust and repainted the outside of U-5075. It was given its original gray color and we added the 075 and the WWII Iron Cross to the conning tower. Only the training Seehunde displayed their numbers.
THE 1997 MARINE SURVEY
THE CONNING TOWER. The periscope is missing. The plexiglas dome is yellowed and crazed (lots of small cracks) from being in the sun for 55 years. It needs to be replaced. The rearmost periscope-like device is missing. This was a combination magnetic compass/viewing device for the leading engineer to view navigational waypoints (or landmarks) and the image had the magnetic compass bearing superimposed on the image. According to 075’s last commander, Arnold Krug, this was lost under a low bridge in Antwerp. The lack of it is a unique characteristic and we will probably not replace it. The plate steel in the conning tower area is highly rusted and quite thin. The easiest and most practical solution is to completely replace these rusted and missing pieces. Of interest, the surveyor expressed surprise that sections of the conning tower were made of aluminum. According to Klaus Mattes, within one meter of the magnetic compass the Seehund conning tower material was either made of aluminum…….. or wood! This explains why one early photo of the Seehund at the Washington Navy Yard Museum showed wooden boards attached to the flat, rearmost sides of its conning tower.
THE BOW SECTION. This area shows a rough finish, some dents, and numerous small welded-on plates (either some repairing of damage received when it was a training boat in Europe or use of available small pieces of scrap steel – supplies were very scarce). The surveyor suggested making the bow section look neater than it was originally. I do not believe that we will even consider doing this since it will greatly alter the original condition of our Seehund. However there are a couple of sections where the metal plate at the bow has rusted completely through exposing concrete that was used as ballast in the bow. These will be replaced and covered.
The inspector thought that repairs were done to the Seehund by use of concrete. But it was not for that purpose. The concrete was original ballast at the bow and along the keel, to the left and right and just above the bottom, cylindrical battery compartment. The Seehund formerly at the Washington Navy Yard now shows small plates of scrap steel being used as ballast just above the lower battery compartment. With our U-5075 concrete was used because steel was scarce. It was built in early 1945 when the war in Europe was almost at its end.
THE PRESSURE HULL is generally in good shape. However the bottom area, to the right and left of the keel has had rain water, salt water, and condensation settle there for 50+ years and the hull is rusted through. This will be replaced with new steel plate.
THE INTERIOR shows rust and deterioration and has been vandalized. Smaller parts such as valve handles, labels, and gages were taken as souvenirs. A less polite way of describing the interior is that it looks like someone ”popped off” a hand grenade inside.
OTHER PARTS, AND CONSIDERATIONS The surveyor mentioned corrosion of numerous other numerous outside parts of our Seehund. And he talked about the necessity of rebuilding them. But they are not as badly corroded as the conning tower and the bottom of the pressure hull. Klaus Mattes warned us that the restoration process would be a continuing, ongoing one. The reason? Because of the salt water trapped in the nooks and crannies of the hull, there will be a continuing battle against rust and corrosion.
are to put our Seehund inside, remove the front 1/3rd section disassemble it, and rebuild each part. Then proceed to rebuilding the other two thirds. Missing parts such as the periscope will have non-working mock-up parts made. Parts not needing major rework will be sand blasted and immediately painted. The ultimate goal is to get our Seehund inside, during and after the restoration. In addition to copies made from the original plans by Klaus Mattes we have access 360 degree interior images of the interior of the Seehund on the Munich Museum’s website http://www.deutsches-museum.de/mum/panorama/big/see.htm and this image is also available on the museum’s CD-rom. The rebuilding process now does not seem as difficult as it had been.
MORE EDUCATIONAL AND BACKGROUND INFORMATION WILL BE PRESENTED. The marine surveyor had also commented, that our Seehund should also have an exhibit that illustrates and exhibits:
The above would make a richer and more educational display. Klaus Mattes gave us a wealth of information and imagery. We also have images and information from the US Archives and other sources. We are working on this imagery and information so we can make highly interesting displays. I intend to find, collect and make people aware of the history of the Seehunde and its crews. My intent, is to also give readers a more up-close-and-personal feeling of the sacrifices and hardships of the Seehunde crews, or what it actually felt like to be there.
THE ”DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS”
MUCH EQUIPMENT AND MANY VOLUNTEER TRADESMEN ARE AVAILABLE. There are many cranes and much ongoing construction in the general area of the museum. We have a nearby trade school with one of the shops taught by an ex-US Navy submariner. And there are a number of volunteer tradesmen ready to start building ”our hund.” But we also need an inside, protected area to start disassembling our boat, and there are administrative problems to be overcome.
CHANGES AT THE MUSEUM, THE BIGGEST PROBLEM. The USS Salem Museum is in the process of administrative changes (where it will be, who will be in charge of it, and sources of funding). For this past year rebuilding our Seehund has been delayed. Just what is to happen to the museum – and our Seehund -- will probably be decided by the summer of this year (2003). Then the rebuilding of our Seehund should be hopefully, in comparison, relatively easy.
[U-Boat] [Brandtaucher] [U-boat deck gun WWI] [U-boat deck gun WWII] [Torpedo Weymouth] [U 1] [U 9] [U 10] [U 434] [U 461] [U 995] [H.M.S. Otus] [Neger] [Molch] [Biber] [Hecht] [Seehund/Speyer] [Seehund/Wilhelmshaven] [Seehund/Dresden] [Seehund/Koblenz] [Vesikko] [Models]