{Germany} U-Bootmuseum Hamburg

November 26, 2014


What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word ‘submarine’? The colour yellow? Torpedoes? Epic war movie Das Boot? Whatever it is, submarines seem to hold a fascination for many people, so when I heard there was an U-Boot Museum in Hamburg, I had to go check it out.


After reading their flyer – adventure, fascination, secrets, mystery – I was expecting great things. I was therefore a little disappointed to discover that the museum consisted mainly of just one submarine – the Russian submarine U-434 – which you can walk through, and a couple of torpedo models. Although many parts of the submarine were labelled, there wasn’t much interpretation beyond that, and the command centre was only accessible as part of a guided tour.


However, if you’ve always dreamed of going aboard a submarine, then maybe you’ll find it worthwhile. I have to admit, it was quite cool – but then I’m someone who never thinks twice about paying to visit a museum. There was a flyer mapping out all the different zones of the U-Boot, alongside a general description of the submarine and more technical details than you’d ever want to know. Unless, of course, you’re a submarine geek. The museum website also has further information about both the submarine’s and the museum’s history (in German). Here are a few technical stats I found interesting:

Year of construction: 1976

Reconstruction as museum: 2002

Crew: 84 marines

Length: 90.16m

Width: 8.72m

Max. diving depth: 400m

Speed: surface 13kn, underwater 16kn


And this (see above) is a model of an EAST-60M electric drive torpedo. The U-34 comprises six torpedo tubes of calibre 533. The submarine could carry up to 24 torpedoes inclusive of the set of tubes. One torpedo has a length of 8.14 m and a weight of more than 2 tons. Okay, I have to admit, that sounds quite impressive! A maximum of two torpedoes could be launched at one time.


I think the Hamburg U-Boot Museum is probably the kind of place you would benefit from taking a guided tour, from having someone take you round who can make this “eye witness of the cold war” come to life – to explain what Russian submarine technology looked like, how the torpedoes worked.


What you’ll definitely experience though, with or without a tour, is the oily smell that seems to linger, and how enclosed the space is, how claustrophobic it makes you feel – when I visited there were only six of us on board but the U-434 can hold a crew of 84 and is licensed to admit up to 80 visitors at one time! It will make you think twice about any romanticised notions you may have had of submarines. Unless, of course, you’re a submarine geek ;)


The U-343 U-Boot Museum Hamburg is open all year round, Mondays through Sundays, and is moored right next to the famous St. Pauli Fish Market. Admission is 9 Euro, plus 4 Euros for a guided tour, concessions available.

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