Only four German U-boats remain from their heyday as the most feared ship in the Nazi navy, but the only one still floating is the Wilhelm Bauer, a shining example of the Nazi navy’s engineering prowess that never even saw any combat.
Construction on the U-2540, as the Wilhelm Bauer was finally finished in 1945, just as World War II was drawing to a close, and it was put into service as a training ship almost immediately. However when the war officially ended the ship’s career was put to an end almost immediately. Later on in 1945, less than a year after it was finished, the submarine was scuttled and sunk to the floor of the Baltic sea.
However, the ship that was sunk too young was not forgotten. After 12 years at the bottom of the sea, the U-boat was raised and overhauled, turning the ship into a test boat for the new German military. It was during this second life that U-2540 shed the negative associations of its fellow U-boats and was rechristened the Wilhelm Bauer.
The ship continued to serve as a testing ground for German submarine innovations until 1980 when it accidentally ran into another ship and was put out to pasture once and for all.
The Wilhelm Bauer was permanently docked in Bremerhaven, Germany and opened as a museum ship where visitors could enter and see the innards of the ship for themselves. Today the former U-boat still floats in its dock as part of the German Maritime Museum. Only a handful of its sister ships remain in the world, and while the Wilhelm Bauer never saw as much combat as the others, she is the only one who can still be found in the water.