Haiti and D Day


There has been a lot of blog coverage on the Haiti relief effort and from a defence perspective, much of this has focussed on the air and sea bridge to Haiti.

Bulk transport by air is simply untenable for anything other than time-critical supplies and personnel. If you need to move bulk then the sea is the only answer.

Aid corridors are being established through the Dominican Republic and other Haitian ports but the principal port at Port Au Prince has been badly damaged.

We had a look at Mexeflotes and other ship to shore methods but even these have limits.

As one might imagine, the US Navy has very impressive capabilities in this area using a range of equipment and personnel to create almost out of nothing effective and sustainable port facilities.

Some great discussion from around the blogosphere below;


One thing that resonates through these posts is that for this type of operation, with its obvious military parallels, is the need to avoid reliance on fixed port infrastructure.

It is of note, that military planners faced exactly the same issue in World War II. Operation Overlord planners knew they could not rely on any deepwater ports because there simply wasn’t any of them within the planned invasion area.

What solution did they come up with?

Have a look at our post on the aftermath of D Day

Piers for use on beaches

If you don’t have a harbour then the simplistic thinking of the day said, ‘let’s build one then’

And this they did…

The Mulberry harbour systems consisted of a number of elements.

GOOSEBERRY was to provide protection and comprised of lines of sunken ships, called CORN COBS whilst still in transit.

PHOENIX was the name given to precast reinforced concrete caissons used in conjunction with the Gooseberry blockships to provide a breakwater.

Additional protection was provided by steel floating breakwaters called BOMBARDON

The floating roadways, pontoons and pier heads were an ingenious system that created a stable route onto the beach that could accommodate the swell and surf, allowing vehicles to move onto the beach under a wide range of conditions. These were called WHALE, SPUD and BEETLE.

The statistics are impressive;

Mulberry B was in almost constant use for 5 months and in excess of 2 million men, half a million vehicles and 4 million tons of supplies were landed.

Deprived of Mulberry because of stormy weather, the US forces resorted to DUKW and Landing Craft, creating a finely tuned system that at times exceeded the capacity of Mulberry B, at its peak about 9,000 tons per day.