German submarine Wilhelm Bauer
|Ordered:||6 November 1943|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg|
|Laid down:||28 October 1944|
|Launched:||13 January 1945|
|Commissioned:||24 February 1945 (as U-2540)|
|Recommissioned:||1 September 1960 (as Wilhelm Bauer)|
|Decommissioned:||28 August 1968|
|In service:||May 1970|
|Out of service:||15 March 1982|
|Status:||Museum ship, 27 April 1984|
|Class & type:||Type XXI submarine|
|Length:||76.7 m (251 ft 8 in)|
|Beam:||8 m (26 ft 3 in)|
|Draught:||5.3 m (17 ft 5 in)|
|Complement:||57 officers and men|
Wilhelm Bauer (originally designated U-2540) is a Type XXI U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine, completed shortly before the end of World War II. It was scuttled at the end of the war, having never gone on patrol. In 1957, it was raised from the seabed off Flensburg Firth and recommissioned in the West-German Bundesmarine in 1960. Finally decommissioned in 1980, it is the only floating example of a XXI U-boat.
Construction and wartime service
Construction of U-2540 began on 28/29 October 1944 by Blohm & Voss in the Hamburg-Finkenwerder. She was launched on 13 January 1945 and commissioned on 24 February 1945 as part of 31st U-boat Flotilla for training purposes. In April 1945 the boat went to the front after training at Rønne on Bornholm. Due to the ongoing fuel shortages at the end of the war, the boat was relocated to Swinemünde before being scuttled near the Flensburg lightship on 4 May 1945.
Salvage, refit, and new service
In June 1957, after more than 12 years on the floor of the Baltic Sea, it was raised, overhauled at Howaldtswerke, Kiel, and commissioned as a research vessel in the Bundesmarine, serving from 1 September 1960 until 28 August 1968 as a test boat (class 241). On relaunch it took the name Wilhelm Bauer, the designer of the first German U-boat Brandtaucher built in Kiel by August Howaldt in 1850. From May 1970 it again entered service, this time with a civilian crew and served as a testbed for the technical innovations of the class 206 U-boat. After an underwater collision with the German destroyer Z-3 (D172) on 6 May 1980 Wilhelm Bauer was discharged from use at Eckernförde on 18 November 1980 and finally released from service on 15 March 1982.
Conversion to museum ship
U-2540 was put on sale by the Ministry of Defence and acquired by the board of trustees of the German Maritime Museum Association and the German Maritime Museum. The boat was restored to its original World War II configuration after its transfer in August 1983 to the Seebeck yard, opening on 27 April 1984 as a museum ship, now sponsored by the Wilhelm Bauer Technology Museum association. It has imitation twin 30mm cannon and the bridge is not glazed as it was during service with the Bundesmarine.
Other surviving U-boats
- Busch, Rainer; Röll, Hans-Joachim (1999). Deutsche U-Boot-Verluste von September 1939 bis Mai 1945. Der U-Boot-Krieg (in German) IV (Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler). ISBN 3-8132-0514-2.
- Gröner, Erich (1985). U-Boote, Hilfskreuzer, Minenschiffe, Netzleger, Sperrbrecher. Die deutschen Kriegsschiffe 1815-1945 (in German) III (Koblenz: Bernard & Graefe). ISBN 3-7637-4802-4.
- A tour of the submarine (requires QuickTime VR software) (German)
- U-Boot Type XXI in detail, Essay with numerous photos of the Wilhelm Bauer attached.
- U-2540 gallery at uboat.net