Projecting Power from the Sea

At the beginning of the academic year 2012/2013, the GMI has started a new Masters programme. The MSc Maritime Security is the first course of its kind worldwide and offers insights into security aspects in the maritime world that are becoming more and more important.

Part of the new programme is a four-day field trip to the shores of Normandy where the projection of power from the sea became visible to the world on 6 June 1944. In the early hours of D-Day, soldiers from the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada were transported in a huge number of landing crafts, along with their equipment and the necessary vehicles.

Another important part of Operation Neptune, as the landing operation itself was codenamed, were naval bombardments of the coastal defences, set up by the German military. Even though almost 70 years have gone by, many remnants can still be seen along the Normandy coastline. Together with Peter Caddick-Adams, military historian and lecturer at the UK Defence Academy at Shrivenham, the GMI group discovered the challenges for the allied operations and the possible extent of landing operations.

One of the most interesting sights the group visited were the remains of an artificial port in the town of Arromanches. Known by its codename Mulberry it played an important role in supplying the allies with the necessary equipment during the first months of their campaign. Within only a few weeks, a port the size of Dover was constructed from parts, brought in place by tug boats over the Channel.

Although it seems unlikely that landing operations of a similar scale will be conducted again in the future, the Normandy trip provided many insights into the challenges of any such operation. Different ways to support military operations from the sea, the implications of sea and weather conditions on the whole campaign and many related aspects were discussed in great detail.

Dirk Siebels, PhD Student