Relocating the U-505

Moving the U-505 into the Museum of Science and Industry

Imagine the unique engineering challenges involved in moving the U-505. How do you move a National Historic Landmark that weighs as much as three Statues of Liberty and is nearly a city block long? Then, once it is moved, how do you lower it four stories into a new exhibit space?

The Museum recruited NORSAR Inc., a company experienced at moving large naval objects, to tackle the project. They appreciated the Museum's unique circumstances and offered a thorough and creative solution. They positioned the sub on 18 sets of dollies with eight tires each; each tire capable of carrying the equivalent of one small rhinoceros per square inch. Each dolly was designed with individually adjustable hydraulic rams, which meant that the weight of the sub could be maneuvered over uneven surfaces. They were individually controllable for easy (relatively speaking) steering and movement.

Over several days in April 2004, the team guided the U-505 1,000 feet to its new home—a 75-by-300-foot, 42-foot deep pen. The boat was jacked up and placed on Teflon pads to help minimize friction as it was pushed across the span of the pen on four enormous steel bridge beams. Mighty jacks rose up to greet the sub as it made a two-day, four-story descent to the floor below and was positioned in its new exhibit gallery. Perfectly.

The entire process showcased science in action; Museum guests were able to witness the move as it happened from a special observation deck affording spectacular views of the construction process.