The Survey of 'Miracle Harbour'

Isabelle Guilloton, a hydrographic survey specialist with CARIS in the Netherlands, has just returned from a project led by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office to survey the artificial harbour in Arromanches-Les-Basin, Normandy, France. This harbour known as 'Mulberry B' and the breakwaters that protected it, were built to support the Allied invasion forces during the Second World War. For Isabelle, getting involved in this project was a wonderful opportunity as she comes from this region of France.

The survey was conducted over a two-week period and was the first time that this specific area had been surveyed using high-resolution multibeam sonar. As a Canadian company CARIS was pleased to join forces with the many other UK and French organizations that were collaborating in this survey of great archeological importance. A list of participating organizations can be found here:

The team used the latest equipment to collect and process the survey data, including the CARIS HIPS and SIPS software suite. The focus for the time that Isabelle spent with the mission was surveying the 'Phoenix' caissons, which are the huge reinforced concrete boxes that formed the foundations of the harbour piers. These boxes are varying sizes to accommodate the different depths of water in which they needed to be placed. It's amazing to think that wartime surveyors were able to accurately map the harbour site in occupied territory and that the engineers were able to build it; the 2011 Mulberry survey crew had things a whole lot easier. Great work to all those involved!

The findings from this historic survey will be presented at various conferences over the coming months and will be published in the Gooseberry newsletter, which is available from the Mulberry Survey website. For more information email

Multibeam data of submerged caissonsThe 'Phoenix' caissons

Published 2011-10-21

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