German submarine U-238
|Ordered:||20 January 1941|
|Laid down:||21 April 1942|
|Launched:||7 January 1943|
|Commissioned:||20 February 1943|
|Fate:||Sunk by Surface Craft, 9 February 1944|
|Type:||Type VIIC submarine|
|Displacement:||769 tonnes (757 long tons) surfaced
871 t (857 long tons) submerged
|Length:||67.1 m (220 ft 2 in) o/a
50.5 m (165 ft 8 in) pressure hull
|Beam:||6.2 m (20 ft 4 in) o/a
4.7 m (15 ft 5 in) pressure hull
|Draft:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Propulsion:||2 × supercharged Germaniawerft 6-cylinder 4-stroke M6V 40/46 diesel engines, totalling 2,800–3,200 bhp (2,100–2,400 kW). Max rpm: 470-490
2 × electric motors, totalling 750 shp (560 kW) and max rpm: 296
|Speed:||17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) surfaced
7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph) submerged
|Range:||15,170 km (8,190 nmi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
150 km (81 nmi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
|Test depth:||230 m (750 ft)
Crush depth: 250–295 m (820–968 ft)
|Complement:||44–52 officers and ratings|
|Part of:||5th U-boat Flotilla
1st U-boat Flotilla
(August 1943–February 1944)
Attached to Wolf pack Leuthen
|Commanders:||Kptlt. Horst Hepp
(February 1943–February 1944)
5 September–8 October 1943
11 November–12 December 1943
27 January–9 February 1944
|Victories:||Four commercial vessels sunk (23,048 GRT)
One commercial vessel damaged (7,176 GRT)
German submarine U-238 was a Type VIIC U-boat of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine built for service in the Second World War. She was laid down on 21 April 1942, by Germaniawerft of Kiel as 'werk' 668, launched on 7 January 1943 and commissioned on 20 February, with Oberleutnant zur See Horst Hepp in command. Hepp commanded her for her entire career, receiving promotion to Kapitänleutnant in the process.
U-238 was a member of four wolfpacks; she was a successful, if short lived boat, sinking four freighters and damaging another during her operations against Allied convoys in the Second Battle of the Atlantic. She had the misfortune, however, of serving at the turning point of the war, when Allied countermeasures were taking a heavy toll on the U-boat force. She conducted three war patrols, beginning in September 1943, following her warm-up trials in the Baltic Sea.
U-238's first patrol was conducted from Trondheim in Norway as part of the 1st U-boat Flotilla, and entailed the submarine exiting the North Sea via the Denmark Strait and operating against Allied shipping in the so-called "air cover gap" in the Central Atlantic, where Allied aircraft had insufficient range to effectively operate against German U-boats. This first patrol was by far the most successful, as on 20 September 1943, the boat attacked a large convoy, sinking one 7,000-ton cargo ship and damaging another. This was followed by three more victims on 23 September, when two Norwegian ships and a British freighter were sunk from the same convoy.
U-238's second patrol was less successful. Two weeks after leaving Brest, on the French Atlantic coast, she was attacked by a TBF Avenger torpedo bomber from the escort carrier USS Bogue (CVE-9), whose rockets killed two crew members and wounded five more, prompting the submarine to return to Brest with severe damage, which put her out of service for a month. It was during this patrol that the submarine captured two British Royal Air Force personnel whose Vickers Wellington bomber had been shot down by U-764.
U-238's third and last patrol began in January 1944, and lasted a fruitless month, until on 9 February, she was caught by convoy escorts of SL-147 and MKS-38 270 miles off Cape Clear. She counter-attacked, unsuccessfully, and was sunk by the sloops, HMS Kite, Magpie and Starling. There were no survivors.
Summary of raiding career
|20 September 1943||SS Frederick Douglass||USA||7,176||Damaged|
|20 September 1943||SS Theodore Dwight Weld||USA||7,176||Sunk|
|23 September 1943||SS Fort Jemseg||United Kingdom||7,134||Sunk|
|23 September 1943||MV Oregon Express||Norway||3,642||Sunk|
|23 September 1943||SS Skjelbred||Norway||5,096||Sunk|
- Kemp, Paul: U-Boats Destroyed - German Submarine Losses in the World Wars, 1999, Arms & Armour, ISBN 1-85409-515-3, pp. 167-168.
- Kemp, pp. 167-168.
- Sharpe, Peter, U-Boat Fact File, Midland Publishing, Great Britain: 1998. ISBN 1-85780-072-9.
- U-boat.net webpage for U-238