Now It Can Be Told! - 'Operation Pluto'
One of the Greatest supply stories of the war was released on May 23, 1945, when the existence of an oil pipeline system across the bed of the Channel to the Continent was revealed. This all-British triumph of engineering and seamanship, known officially as Operation Pluto, solved one of the master problems of the whole war, enabling 1,000,000 gallons of petrol to be pumped daily, from a few weeks after D-Day, through the submarine pipe-way into France and later deep into Germany, supplying the entire petrol requirements of Montgomery's Armies. By V Day over 120,000,000 gallons had thus been transported.
From tankers discharging at our ports the petrol was conveyed across Britain, through a network of pipelines, to cleverly concealed coastal high-pressure pumping stations, staffed by R.A.S.C. personnel, whence it was received by the submarine pipes. The latter, of 3-in. steel tubing, were laid under the supervision of the Royal Navy, ships of all sizes, comprising “Force Pluto”, manned by Merchant Navy seamen, being engaged.
For paying-out, the tubing was wound on floating drums each 40 ft. in diameter, 60 ft. long, carrying 70 miles of it, and weighing 1,600 tons. Many of the various laying operations were completed under adverse weather conditions and against strong tides; 500 miles of this pipeline were laid between Dungeness and Boulogne, to name only two points. The title “Pluto” is made up of the initial letters of Pipe Line Under The Ocean.
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