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. In nine patrols UC-38 was credited with sinking 43 ships, either by torpedo or by mines laid.
|Class and type:||German Type UC II submarine|
|Ordered:||20 November 1915|
|Builder:||Blohm & Voss, Hamburg|
|Launched:||25 June 1916|
|Commissioned:||26 October 1916|
|Fate:||depth charged, 14 December 1917|
|Class and type:||Type UC II submarine|
|Draught:||3.65 m (12 ft)|
|Test depth:||50 m (160 ft)|
|Notes:||35-second diving time|
On 14 December 1917, by 38°15′N 20°22′E, under Hans Hermann Wendlandt, UC-38 met a French convoy comprising the fast cruiser Chateaurenault, serving as a troopship, and her escorts Mameluk, Rouen and Lansquenet. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Summary of raiding history
|16 February 1917||Laertis||3,914||Sunk|
|19 February 1917||Quinto||1,796||Sunk|
|20 February 1917||Doravore||2,760||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||Adelina||528||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||Ape||301||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||Giovanni P.||105||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||Michielino||20||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||San Michele||583||Sunk|
|22 February 1917||Vincenzino||20||Sunk|
|24 February 1917||Albina||187||Sunk|
|27 February 1917||Elena M.||125||Sunk|
|27 February 1917||S. Ciro Palmerino||113||Sunk|
|24 March 1917||Emanuela||16||Sunk|
|31 March 1917||Brodness||5,736||Sunk|
|1 April 1917||Warren||3,709||Sunk|
|2 April 1917||Filicudi||257||Sunk|
|3 April 1917||Annunziata A||206||Sunk|
|3 April 1917||Caterina R.||214||Sunk|
|3 April 1917||Domenico||260||Sunk|
|3 April 1917||Nuova Maria Di Porto Salvo||48||Sunk|
|12 April 1917||Monviso||4,020||Damaged|
|13 June 1917||St. Andrews||3,613||Sunk|
|15 June 1917||Elvaston||4,130||Damaged|
|15 June 1917||Pasha||5,930||Sunk|
|15 June 1917||Saint Louis V||5,202||Damaged|
|12 July 1917||Grace||1,861||Sunk|
|15 July 1917||L.B.S. 1011||20||Sunk|
|15 July 1917||L.B.S. 29||10||Sunk|
|15 July 1917||HMS Redbreast||1,313||Sunk|
|16 July 1917||Firfield||4,029||Sunk|
|16 July 1917||Unidentified Sailing Vessel||20||Sunk|
|17 July 1917||HMS Newmarket||833||Sunk|
|18 July 1917||K.507||40||Sunk|
|28 August 1917||Pasqualino Carmela||61||Sunk|
|28 August 1917||Scilla||397||Sunk|
|29 August 1917||Vronwen||5,714||Sunk|
|22 September 1917||Garifaglia||430||Sunk|
|23 September 1917||Agios Nicolaos||119||Sunk|
|3 November 1917||Nefeli||3,868||Sunk|
|7 November 1917||Villemer||3,627||Sunk|
|11 November 1917||HMS M15||540||Sunk|
|11 November 1917||HMS Staunch||750||Sunk|
|14 November 1917||Panormitis||20||Sunk|
|14 November 1917||Panaghia||14||Sunk|
|6 December 1917||Tubereuse||183||Sunk|
|14 December 1917||Châteaurenault||8,018||Sunk|
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."
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "WWI U-boats: UC 38". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2009.
- Tarrant, p. 173.
- Gröner 1991, pp. 31-32.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Helgason, Guðmundur. "Ships hit by UC 38". German and Austrian U-boats of World War I - Kaiserliche Marine - Uboat.net. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
- Ross, Sir Ronald (1923). Memoirs with a full account of the Great Malaria Problem and its Solution. London: John Murray. p. 521.
- 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.