Utah Beach, St-Martin-de-Varreville
Location and info
Plage de Saint-Martin-de Varreville, 50480
Located on Utah Beach near the Leclerc Monument off the D421 coastal road. The Rhone ferry is visible on the beach at low tide.
Exposed at low tide on Utah Beach near Saint-Martin-de-Varreville you can find this amazing relic of the Normandy landings.
These rusted remains are what’s left of a huge Rhino Ferry, a steel barge created by the US Navy to transport men, supplies, and vehicles including tanks from ships moored in the deeper water off the beach.
Rhino Ferries were constructed by connecting steel, floating pontoon sections together to build a large platform of 150ft length and 42ft width. Each was capable of carrying 275 tons of materiel.
They were powered, actually underpowered in most cases, by two outboard engines and were also supported and moved with the aid of tugs.
The benefit of the ferries was that they boasted a much lower draft than landing craft and so we’re able to operate in shallow waters, bridging the gap between Landing Ships and the shoreline.
They were used extensively in Normandy following the D-Day landings, with 31 ferries working the waters off Utah and Omaha beaches and a further 41 employed on Gold, Juno, and Sword landing areas.
Reports indicate that around 85 per cent of all vehicular equipment landed on Utah and Omaha in the first 10 days following D-Day was delivered by Rhino Ferry. A remarkable yet simple vehicle which helped change the course of the war.