Military Wiki
HMS P38 (1941)
Career (United Kingdom)
Name: HMS P38
Builder: Vickers Armstrong, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down: 2 September 1940
Launched: 9 July 1941
Commissioned: 17 October 1941
Out of service: 23 February 1942
Homeport: Malta
Fate: sunk
General characteristics
Class & type: U-class submarine

Surfaced - 540 tons standard, 630 tons full load

Submerged - 730 tons
Length: 58.22 m (191 ft)
Beam: 4.90 m (16 ft 1 in)
Draught: 4.62 m (15 ft 2 in)

2 shaft diesel-electric
2 Paxman Ricardo diesel generators + electric motors

615 / 825 hp

11.25 knots max surfaced

10 knots (19 km/h) max submerged
Complement: 27-31

4 bow internal 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes - 8 - 10 torpedoes

1 - 3-inch (76 mm) gun

HMS P38 was a Royal Navy U-class submarine built by Vickers-Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness.


P38 had a short-lived career with the Royal Navy. Commissioned in October 1941, she was assigned to operate with the 10th Flotilla based in Malta in the Mediterranean in January 1942, under the command of Lieutenant Rowland Hemingway DSC, RN. On her first patrol she sank the Italian merchant Ariosto of 4,116 tons off Cape Afrika, Tunisia on 15 February 1942. 138 Allied prisoners of war aboard were lost. This was the only successful attack by P38.


P38 left Malta on 16 February 1942, to intercept a very important large supply convoy for Axis forces off Tripoli. By 23 February, she was in position as the convoy approached. Amongst the convoy was the Italian torpedo boat Circe, equipped with German sonar and depth charge throwers. At 08:14 British time (10:14 Italian time), the Circe reported a sonar contact at 1,800m with a submarine and that she turned in to attack, ordering the convoy to turn to port. A periscope was sighted but was quickly replaced by bubbles as the submarine dived, realising it had been spotted. Shortly after 10:32 (Italian time), after a single attack in which all depth charges were dropped by Circe, P38 rose only to sink immediately again. At 10:40 (Italian time), after further attacks with depth charges and machine guns by escorts Usodimare and Pessagno, as well as aircraft, during which one Italian rating was killed by friendly fire, P38 rose stern first out of the water, her propellers turning wildly, steering planes set to surfacing, before crashing back beneath the waves at a bow-down angle of 40 degrees. A large patch of oil appeared on the surface as well as debris and human remains, clear evidence of the submarine’s destruction. P 38 was sunk in 350 metres of water in position 32 degrees 48 minutes north and 14 degrees 58 minutes east some 90 nautical miles (170 km) east of Tripoli, Libya, off Cape Misuratha. There were no survivors among her complement of 32.


Coordinates: 32°48′0″N 14°58′0″E / 32.8°N 14.966667°E / 32.8; 14.966667

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