u 505

(Art)ic Monkeys

June 4

In 1944, a boarding party from the US Navy destroyer escort USS Pillsbury stormed the damaged German unterseeboot U-505.  They managed to salvage the submarine, as its crew did not fully complete scuttling procedures prior to abandoning the stricken boat.  

It’s kind of a shame that a bunch of surface pukes got their grubby hands all over a fine submarine, but they did keep the vessel after the war.  A decade later, it was donated to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry.

All of the boat’s removable components had long since been stripped for study, and there was no way it was usable as a museum exhibit.  The museum’s president, Lenox Lohr, contacted the parts’ original manufacturers in Germany and asked for replacements.  To his astonishment, most of the suppliers provided the parts, and all free of charge.  They were that proud of their craftsmanship.

You can see the U-505 today at the MSI in Chicago, Illinois.  It is one of the only two surviving Type IXC U-boats in the entire world.  

 Anyone who has spent any time aboard a submarine can tell you that there’s a particular odor associated with being in the boats.  It’s certainly not pleasant, but, after a time, one becomes accustomed to it.  It’s rather amazing that, after over half a century as a museum piece, when you enter the U-505, you can still detect traces of that distinctive smell.

I’m not sure how hey managed to capture it with a torpedo frozen in time, but I hear people were tougher back then.