SM UC-38

SM UC-38 was a German Type UC II minelaying submarine or U-boat in the German Imperial Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine) during World War I. The U-boat was ordered on 20 November 1915 and was launched on 25 June 1916. She was commissioned into the German Imperial Navy on 26 October 1916 as SM UC-38.[Note 1] In nine patrols UC-38 was credited with sinking 43 ships, either by torpedo or by mines laid.

History
German Empire
Class and type: German Type UC II submarine
Name: UC-38
Ordered: 20 November 1915[1]
Builder: Blohm & Voss, Hamburg[2]
Yard number: 279[1]
Launched: 25 June 1916[1]
Commissioned: 26 October 1916[1]
Fate: depth charged, 14 December 1917[1]
General characteristics [3]
Class and type: Type UC II submarine
Displacement:
  • 427 t (420 long tons), surfaced
  • 509 t (501 long tons), submerged
Length:
Beam:
  • 5.22 m (17 ft 2 in) o/a
  • 3.65 m (12 ft) pressure hull
Draught: 3.65 m (12 ft)
Propulsion:
Speed:
  • 11.6 knots (21.5 km/h; 13.3 mph), surfaced
  • 6.8 knots (12.6 km/h; 7.8 mph), submerged
Range:
  • 10,180 nmi (18,850 km; 11,710 mi) at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph) surfaced
  • 54 nmi (100 km; 62 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 50 m (160 ft)
Complement: 26
Armament:
Notes: 35-second diving time
Service record
Part of:
  • Pola Flotilla
  • 23 January – 14 December 1917
Commanders:
  • Oblt.z.S. Albrecht von Dewitz[4]
  • 19–29 October 1917
  • Oblt.z.S. Alfred Klatt[5]
  • 29 October 1916 – 4 August 1917
  • Oblt.z.S. Hans Hermann Wendlandt[6]
  • 5 August – 14 December 1917
Operations: 9 patrols
Victories:
  • 37 merchant ships sunk (50,671 GRT)
  • 3 merchant ships damaged (13,352 GRT)
  • 6 warships sunk (11,637 tons)

On 14 December 1917, by 38°15′N 20°22′E, under Hans Hermann Wendlandt,[7] UC-38 met a French convoy comprising the fast cruiser Chateaurenault, serving as a troopship, and her escorts Mameluk, Rouen and Lansquenet.[8] UC-38 approached and fired one torpedo on Chateaurenault, which was hit in her middle section at 6:47. UC-38 dived at 38 metres, while the Mameluk and Rouen rushed to the launching position of the torpedo, and Lansquenet started picking up people thrown overboard by the explosion. Chateaurenault requested her escorts to close in and evacuate personnel, which was completed by 07:26. The trawler Balsamine came to the rescue and made attempts to take Chateaurenault in tow.[8]

Back to periscope depth, UC-38 saw Chateaurenault still afloat, and fired a second torpedo, which hit at 8:20; Chateaurenault foundered quickly, but all personnel still alive aboard could be rescued. Lansquenet, in the process of picking up her launches, rushed to the launching point and fired 7 depth charges. One caused a light leak in the submarine; Captain Wendlandt ordered a dive to bring his ship below the area targeted by the grenades, but a false manœuvre made UC-38 climb instead, and a second explosion caused a large leak, forcing Wendlandt to crash surface and abandon ship.[7][8]

UC-38 surfaced briefly and was immediately targeted by the guns of Mameluk, which continued her attack by launching several depth charges. UC-38 surfaced again, and this time both Mameluk and Lansquenet opened fire, hitting her several times and killing several of her crew as they exited. She sank at 8:40, and the French destroyers picked up the survivors.[7][8]

German sources claim that 25 men were rescued and 9 killed; a sailor of UC-38 claimed that 20 men were saved out of a 28-man crew; French enquiry reports 20 rescued and 5 confirmed dead out of a 27-man crew.[7]

Design

A German Type UC II submarine, UC-38 had a displacement of 427 tonnes (420 long tons) when at the surface and 509 tonnes (501 long tons) while submerged. She had a length overall of 50.35 m (165 ft 2 in), a beam of 5.22 m (17 ft 2 in), and a draught of 3.65 m (12 ft). The submarine was powered by two six-cylinder four-stroke diesel engines each producing 300 metric horsepower (220 kW; 300 shp) (a total of 600 metric horsepower (440 kW; 590 shp)), two electric motors producing 460 metric horsepower (340 kW; 450 shp), and two propeller shafts. She had a dive time of 35 seconds and was capable of operating at a depth of 50 metres (160 ft).[3]

The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 11.6 knots (21.5 km/h; 13.3 mph) and a submerged speed of 6.6 knots (12.2 km/h; 7.6 mph). When submerged, she could operate for 54 nautical miles (100 km; 62 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 10,180 nautical miles (18,850 km; 11,710 mi) at 7 knots (13 km/h; 8.1 mph). UC-38 was fitted with six 100 centimetres (39 in) mine tubes, eighteen UC 200 mines, three 50 centimetres (20 in) torpedo tubes (one on the stern and two on the bow), seven torpedoes, and one 8.8 cm (3.5 in) Uk L/30 deck gun. Her complement was twenty-six crew members.[3]

Summary of raiding history

Date Name Nationality Tonnage[Note 2] Fate[9]
16 February 1917 Laertis  Greece 3,914 Sunk
19 February 1917 Quinto  Kingdom of Italy 1,796 Sunk
20 February 1917 Doravore  Norway 2,760 Sunk
22 February 1917 Adelina  Kingdom of Italy 528 Sunk
22 February 1917 Ape  Kingdom of Italy 301 Sunk
22 February 1917 Giovanni P.  Kingdom of Italy 105 Sunk
22 February 1917 Michielino  Kingdom of Italy 20 Sunk
22 February 1917 San Michele  Kingdom of Italy 583 Sunk
22 February 1917 Vincenzino  Kingdom of Italy 20 Sunk
24 February 1917 Albina  Kingdom of Italy 187 Sunk
27 February 1917 Elena M.  Kingdom of Italy 125 Sunk
27 February 1917 S. Ciro Palmerino  Kingdom of Italy 113 Sunk
24 March 1917 Emanuela  Kingdom of Italy 16 Sunk
31 March 1917 Brodness  United Kingdom 5,736 Sunk
1 April 1917 Warren  United Kingdom 3,709 Sunk
2 April 1917 Filicudi  Kingdom of Italy 257 Sunk
3 April 1917 Annunziata A  Kingdom of Italy 206 Sunk
3 April 1917 Caterina R.  Kingdom of Italy 214 Sunk
3 April 1917 Domenico  Kingdom of Italy 260 Sunk
3 April 1917 Nuova Maria Di Porto Salvo  Kingdom of Italy 48 Sunk
12 April 1917 Monviso  Kingdom of Italy 4,020 Damaged
13 June 1917 St. Andrews  United Kingdom 3,613 Sunk
15 June 1917 Elvaston  United Kingdom 4,130 Damaged
15 June 1917 Pasha  United Kingdom 5,930 Sunk
15 June 1917 Saint Louis V  France 5,202 Damaged
12 July 1917 Grace  United States 1,861 Sunk
15 July 1917 L.B.S. 1011  Greece 20 Sunk
15 July 1917 L.B.S. 29  Greece 10 Sunk
15 July 1917 HMS Redbreast  Royal Navy 1,313 Sunk
16 July 1917 Firfield  United Kingdom 4,029 Sunk
16 July 1917 Unidentified Sailing Vessel  Greece 20 Sunk
17 July 1917 HMS Newmarket  Royal Navy 833 Sunk
18 July 1917 K.507  Greece 40 Sunk
28 August 1917 Pasqualino Carmela  Kingdom of Italy 61 Sunk
28 August 1917 Scilla  Kingdom of Italy 397 Sunk
29 August 1917 Vronwen  United Kingdom 5,714 Sunk
22 September 1917 Garifaglia  Greece 430 Sunk
23 September 1917 Agios Nicolaos  Greece 119 Sunk
3 November 1917 Nefeli  Greece 3,868 Sunk
7 November 1917 Villemer  United States 3,627 Sunk
11 November 1917 HMS M15  Royal Navy 540 Sunk
11 November 1917 HMS Staunch  Royal Navy 750 Sunk
14 November 1917 Panormitis  Greece 20 Sunk
14 November 1917 Panaghia  Greece 14 Sunk
6 December 1917 Tubereuse  French Navy 183 Sunk
14 December 1917 Châteaurenault  French Navy 8,018 Sunk

Sinking

Sir Ronald Ross, first British Nobel laureate for his discovery of the malaria vector, embarked the Chateau Renault at Taranto, Italy, on 13 December 1917 on his way to Salonika. Ross recounts the moment the SM UC-38 was destroyed in his 1923 memoirs:

"Suddenly all the soldiers began pointing in one direction and one behind me said ‘Voyez monsieur’. There, 200 yards from us, was the deck of an emerging submarine. She had been touched by one of our depth-charges. Her crew were jumping off her deck into the sea, one after the other, as fast as they could like frogs. In another minute a storm of shells and shot ploughed up the water round her. The our captain yelled out ‘Asseyez vous’. We were going to fire off our own big gun...Our shell took effect; up rose the stern of the submarine and then slowly down she slid, as her victim had done, leaving a number of pink heads dotting the water – Boches clamouring to be saved. A Frenchman near me was handing round pistols to shoot at them, but our captain promptly stopped that. Boats went out and rescued 18 of the German crew; they came aboard naked and shivering but happy! For some reason we were all happy together."[10]

References

Notes

  1. "SM" stands for "Seiner Majestät" (English: His Majesty's) and combined with the U for Unterseeboot would be translated as His Majesty's Submarine.
  2. Merchant ship tonnages are in gross register tons. Military vessels are listed by tons displacement.

Citations

  1. Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UC 38". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
  2. Tarrant, p. 173.
  3. Gröner 1991, pp. 31-32.
  4. Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Albrecht von Dewitz". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  5. Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Alfred Klatt". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  6. Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boat commanders: Hans Hermann Wendlandt (Royal House Order of Hohenzollern)". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  7. UC-38
  8. Chateaurenault
  9. Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by UC 38". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  10. Ross, Sir Ronald (1923). Memoirs with a full account of the Great Malaria Problem and its Solution. London: John Murray. p. 521.

Bibliography

  • Bendert, Harald (2001). Die UC-Boote der Kaiserlichen Marine 1914-1918. Minenkrieg mit U-Booten (in German). Hamburg, Berlin, Bonn: Mittler. ISBN 3-8132-0758-7.
  • Gröner, Erich; Jung, Dieter; Maass, Martin (1991). U-boats and Mine Warfare Vessels. German Warships 1815–1945. 2. Translated by Thomas, Keith; Magowan, Rachel. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-593-4.
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1985). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships, 1906–1921. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-907-8. OCLC 12119866.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  • Tarrant, V. E. (1989). The U-Boat Offensive: 1914–1945. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-764-7. OCLC 20338385.
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