9 Who’s Minding the Planet? HEADLINE SURFACE WATER ALLIED INGENUITY Sea conditions were extremely difficult during the landings and resulted in a significant loss of military assets. The hydrographic survey revealed sunken tanks in otherwise ‘good’ condition that had sunk before even reaching the shore. These DD or Duplex Drive tanks, nicknamed ‘Donald Duck tanks’, had been fitted with folding floatation screens intended to create buoyancy. They also had a propeller powered by the tank’s engine to drive in water. The survey showed many had sunk despite the technology onboard and this was attributed primarily to rough sea conditions. A number of other innovations were still evident on the Normandy seabed. Evidence of wooden boats no longer exist, but a wide variety of metal vessels were identified in the survey. For example, the Allies were aware of the need to reduce the time for troops to disembark and Jackson Higgins, a boat manufacturer from New Orleans, designed a range of boats with this in mind for deployment on D-Day. Higgins’ boats were able to deliver large quantities of men and equipment quickly from ship to shore, without the need for established harbors. His various boats included the LCVPs (Land Craft, Vehicle, Personnel), special craft designed to carry infantry platoons and jeeps to shore. With a front ramp, Higgins’ boats were able to reduce unloading time which saved many lives. HYDROGRAPHIC SURVEY The survey of Normandy Beach was conducted using an RTK GPS with a motion reference unit and advanced multi- beam, pole-mounted sonar fitted to the underside of Etoile Marine’s Catamaran, the Magic Star. At 25 meters long and 12 meters wide, the catamaran was large enough to enable 24/7 operation over a survey period that ran over 6 weeks. Water depth varied up to 100 meters and the catamaran sailed back and forth, scanning ‘swaths’ 64 kilometers (40 miles) in length (each taking 10 hours to survey). In contrast, with conditions during the D-Day landings, the weather conditions during the survey were relatively calm and the onboard team even managed to turn the engines off and survey under sail at one point. In the first phase of the work, 350 separate wrecks and debris were marked, and in the second phase 50 specific targets were scanned to create highly detailed 3D images. The survey team did not find any unexploded devices, but did scan many items that had been the victims of such explosions. In addition to British and American equipment, the survey also found a German U390 submarine, which was sunk on July 5, 1944 by anti-submarine explosives called depth charges. HYPACK software combined the tools used for planning the survey lines to be run. The end result is the 3D imagery that makes it possible to ‘see’ underwater. Describing the work to handle the enormous quantities of data produced by the 4 billion soundings gathered by the survey, HYPACK’s Jerry Knisley says: “We had to handle 1 GB of data per hour, and HYPACK [software] handled the volume with no problems." U.S. troops wading to Utah Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy Survey scans using HYPACK software reveal historical treasures previously lost