HC Deb 06 December 1944 vol 406 c532W
Sir M. Sueter

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he can state who was the first naval officer to put forward the idea of building a prefabricated port before a joint service committee; and will he give the names of those principally concerned in the development and execution of the plan.

Mr. Alexander

There is evidence that Commodore Hughes-Hallett, Chief of Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, who was then responsible for the naval planning of the operation, was the first naval officer to suggest, at an Inter-Service Conference held by Admiral Mountbatten in the summer of 1943, the creation of artificial harbours by the sinking of blockships. To prevent any misunderstanding, I would add that the idea of making breakwaters with blockships was not new. The real service rendered by naval opinion led by the officer named was to help to make the project a practical proposition. The actual work came from many brains and hands in the Government Departments concerned. Many Admiralty representatives gave valuable assistance, including Mr. F. A. Whitaker, the Civil Engineer-in-Chief and his staff, Lieutenant Commander Lochner, R.N.V.R., Mr. S. A. McCarthy, the Director of Warship Production, and Mr. W. J. A. Davies, the Deputy Director, while the firm principally concerned with the erection of the floating breakwater was Messrs. Cozens & Sutcliffe. Rear-Admiral Tennant was the Flag Officer on Admiral Ramsay's staff responsible for the naval aspects of the operation throughout, and Captain Hickling, later Naval Officer-in-Charge of the Port, was largely concerned in the preliminary staff work.