On May the 5th 1945 U-534 was heading north towards Norway, when it was attacked by the RAF which dropped depth charges. U-534 took heavy damage and began to sink by the stern. Amazingly forty-nine of the fifty-two crew members survived, including five who escaped via a torpedo hatch. The stricken vessel lay forgotten on the sea bed for over 40 years.
In August 1993 the wreckage was raised from the seabed in the hope of finding hidden treasure on board. Nothing was found.
U534 was transported to Birkenhead, England in 1996 where it formed part of the Warship Preservation Trust's collection at Birkenhead Docks until the museum closed on 5 February 2006.
On 27 June 2007, the Merseytravel transit authority announced that it had acquired the submarine to display at the Woodside Ferry Terminal where it was to be turned into a tourist attraction.
Later that year, following a recommendation, we were approached by the Engineer in charge of the project to survey U534 & to devise a preparation & coating system for the outer hull & top deck to help stabilise & preserve the structure.
The outer surfaces were heavily corroded & damaged in places both from the initial depth charge blast & subsequent weathering. The corrosion needed to be removed prior to the application of the coating system.
Due the fragile state of some areas it was not possible to use a mechanical preparation such as blasting or needle gun as this was far too aggressive. Therefore, we proposed a mixture of hand preparation using scrapers & jet washing.
For the coating we recommended a 3 coat system utilising a rust inhibiting primer, an intermediate primer with rust inhibitor & a top coat. These were applied by a mixture of brush, roller & spraying.
The hull was prepared in sections. After a section was prepared we ensured that it was then dry before applying the primer immediately to seal that section from the elements. This was repeated until the whole vessel was coated with the primer.
The intermediate primer was then applied followed by the top coat.
On the 6th of February 2008 engineers began a month-long operation to cut up U-534, using a diamond wire cutter to create 5 sections. Beginning on 10 March 2008, the sections, each weighing up to 240 tonnes, were transported by floating crane over a number of days from the work yard to its new home at the Woodside Ferry Terminal.