Tuesday, August 12, 2008

PLUTO and 12 August

On 12 August 1944 Pluto was in the news. Not astrological Pluto, nor Disney's Pluto, but Pluto the acronym = Pipe Line Under The Ocean: arteries which carried millions of gallons of fuel from Britain to Allied forces in France and beyond. The first line was laid on 12 August 1944.
Wikipedia - Operation Pluto

Isn't it oddly appropriate that astrological Pluto rules oil? Throughout the early 1940s when this project was developed and brought into use, Uranus, planet of invention, innovation, technology etc. and Pluto were in close harmonious sextile to each other (60 degree aspect - Pluto in early Leo, Uranus in early Gemini).

The engineering involved here boggles the mind. The video below, using film from the 1940s, is narrated in German, but illustrates fairly clearly how the pipelines were laid, by a ship pulling a huge cylinder from which the pipeline was dragged to the seabed.

Pluto Origins: ( here)

"A reliable supply of petrol for the advancing Allied forces following the D-Day landings was of the highest priority. Planners knew that the future invasion of Europe would be the largest amphibious landing in history and without adequate and reliable supplies of petrol any advance would at best slow down and at worst grind to a halt. A loss of momentum could jeopardise the whole operation as German forces would have time to regroup and counter-attack. Conventional tankers and 'ship to shore' pipelines were in danger of cluttering up the beaches, obstructing the movement of men, armaments and materials and, in all circumstances, were subject to the vagaries of the weather and sea conditions and they were easy targets for the Luftwaffe.

The idea of a Pipe Line Under The Ocean, (the English Channel), was an innovative solution. It was known that oil storage facilities located near the English Channel would be vulnerable to attack by the Luftwaffe. To reduce the risk of losses, a network of pipelines was, during early discussions about PLUTO, already under construction. This was designed to carry fuel from safer storage and port facilities around Bristol and Liverpool to the English Channel. This network would later be linked to the planned pipeline at Skanklin on the Isle of Wight and Dungeness further to the west. The terminals and pumping stations were heavily disguised as bungalows, gravel pits, garages and even an ice cream shop!
Soon after D Day, a continuous flow of petrol to meet the heavy demands of the liberation armies and air fleets was maintained by the 'Pipelines Under the Ocean.' These pipe-lines were vital arteries, which enabled the Allied Air Fleets and Land Forces to maintain the vital momentum needed to secure victory. Moreover Operation PLUTO made it possible to dispense with the fleets of tankers, which otherwise would have been necessary and spared them the ordeal of concentrated enemy attacks in congested waters, thus undoubtedly saving many hundreds of gallant lives."


Wisewebwoman said...

Well, I learn something every day, T.
Had no clue about this!

Twilight said...

I had only a vague memory of it, WWW, from far-off school days. :-)

R J Adams said...

I remember reading about it as a kid and being absolutely gobsmacked such a thing could be done. That, and Barnes Wallis's bouncing bombs were my two favorite British wartime inventions.

Twilight said...

Hi RJ ~~~ Oh yes! The Dam Busters!
Heroic times.