Unterseeboot 505 is a Type IXC U-boat of the Kriegsmarine, notable for its capture by the United States Navy in 1944, and presently a museum ship at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Codebooks and other secret documents were captured from the U-505 which assisted Allied codebreaking operations.
As the submarine broached only 700 yards from Chatelain, the escort opened fire with all automatic weapons that would bear and swept the U-boat's decks. Pillsbury, Lieutenant George W. Casselman, USNR, and Jenks, Lieutenant Commander Julius F. Way, USN, farther away, and the two Wildcats overhead all joined the shooting and added to the intense barrage. Wounded in the torrent of fire and believing that his submarine had been mortally damaged by Chatelain's depth charges, the commanding officer of U-505 quickly ordered his crew to abandon ship. So quickly was this command obeyed that scuttling measures were left incomplete and the submarine's engines continued to run.
The jammed rudder caused the partially-submerged U-505 to circle to the right at a speed near seven knots. Seeing the U-boat turning toward him, the commanding officer of Chatelain ordered a single torpedo fired at the submarine in order to forestall what appeared to be a similar attack on himself. The torpedo passed ahead of U-505, which by now appeared to be completely abandoned. About two minutes later, the escort division commander ordered cease fire and called away Pillsbury's boarding party.
The capture of codebooks on U-505 allowed Allied cryptanalysts to break the special "coordinate" code in enciphered German messages and determine more precise locations for U-boat operating areas. In addition to directing hunter-killer task groups to these locations, these coordinates enabled Allied convoy commanders to route shipping away from known U-boat locations, greatly inhibiting the effectiveness of German submarine patrols. The material captured from U-505 arrived at Bletchley Park on 20 June 1944, and, in addition to the coordinate code, included the regular and Offizier settings for June 1944, the current short weather codebook, and the short signal codebook and bigram tables due to come into effect in July and August respectively.
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The Playing with the Enemy Book Tour kicked off at the U-505 Exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry. You can view the event photos by clicking here, Movie Announcement.
When U-505 was donated to the Museum, she had been thoroughly stripped during the years she sat neglected alongside the dock at the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Admiral Gallery proposed a possible solution. Major Lohr contacted all of the German manufacturers who had supplied the components and parts that went into her, in hopes of restoring her to near-new condition. As the Admiral reported in his autobiography, Eight Bells and All's Well, the Major expected at best responses that boiled down to "Go to hell." However, to his and the Museum's surprise, every company supplied the requested parts without charge. Most included letters that said in effect, "We are sorry that you have our U-boat; but since she's going to be there for many years, we want her to be a credit to German technology." An article by the boat's former curator, Keith Gill, published in Savas, Theodore, editor, Hunt and Kill: U-505 and the U-boat War in the Atlantic, pp. 161-220 (SavasBeatie LLC), offers an in-depth and fascinating behind the scenes account of how U-505 ended up in Chicago.