The minimization of threats against ships and landing craft transporting Allied troops was paramount to the success of Operation Neptune. Naval and aerial patrols of the English Channel extended out to the Atlantic so that German warships and submarines could be intercepted as far away from the Channel crossing route as possible. Task forces for each of the five landing beaches were assembled from ports and naval bases across the south coast. These were grouped into larger eastern and western task forces for the British/Canadian and American landing beaches respectively, with a combined total of almost 7,000 vessels. The forces for each beach assembled at Area Z, known as ‘Piccadilly Circus’, where they formed convoys and waited for their allocated time to cross the Channel. Minesweepers led the way to clear safe routes through the minefields, followed by various troop and supply transports flanked by battleships which provided protection.
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