|Ordered:||21 November 1940|
|Laid down:||12 September 1941|
|Launched:||12 November 1942|
|Commissioned:||31 December 1942|
|Fate:||Sunk, 20 June 1943|
|Class and type:||Type VIIC submarine|
|Height:||9.60 m (31 ft 6 in)|
|Draught:||4.74 m (15 ft 7 in)|
|Complement:||4 officers, 40–56 enlisted|
|Operations:||One patrol: 8–20 June 1943|
The submarine was laid down on 12 September 1941 at the Howaldtswerke yard in Kiel, launched on 12 November 1942 and commissioned on 31 December 1942 under the command of Oberleutnant zur See Peter Sues.
German Type VIIC submarines were preceded by the shorter Type VIIB submarines. U-388 had a displacement of 769 tonnes (757 long tons) when at the surface and 871 tonnes (857 long tons) while submerged. She had a total length of 67.10 m (220 ft 2 in), a pressure hull length of 50.50 m (165 ft 8 in), a beam of 6.20 m (20 ft 4 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.74 m (15 ft 7 in). The submarine was powered by two Germaniawerft F46 four-stroke, six-cylinder supercharged diesel engines producing a total of 2,800 to 3,200 metric horsepower (2,060 to 2,350 kW; 2,760 to 3,160 shp) for use while surfaced, two Garbe, Lahmeyer & Co. RP 137/c double-acting electric motors producing a total of 750 metric horsepower (550 kW; 740 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.23 m (4 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft).
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 17.7 knots (32.8 km/h; 20.4 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.6 knots (14.1 km/h; 8.7 mph). When submerged, the boat could operate for 80 nautical miles (150 km; 92 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph); when surfaced, she could travel 8,500 nautical miles (15,700 km; 9,800 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph). U-388 was fitted with five 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and one at the stern), fourteen torpedoes, one 8.8 cm (3.46 in) SK C/35 naval gun, 220 rounds, and two twin 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft guns. The boat had a complement of between forty-four and sixty.
U-388 sailed from Kiel on 8 June 1943 on her first patrol in the Atlantic. On 20 June, she was sunk south-east of Cape Farewell, Greenland, in position Coordinates: , by depth charges from a PBY Catalina aircraft of United States Navy Patrol Squadron VP-84, and was lost with all 47 men on board.
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