In early May 1943, a two-phase "Naval Demolition Project" was directed by the Chief of Naval Operations "to meet a present and urgent requirement". The first phase began at Amphibious Training Base (ATB) Solomons, Maryland with the establishment of Operational Naval Demolition Unit No. 1. Six officers and eighteen enlisted men reported from the Seabee's NTC Camp Peary dynamiting and demolition school, for a four-week course. Those Seabees were immediately sent to participate in the invasion of Sicily. At that time Lieutenant Commander Draper L. Kauffman, "The Father of Naval Combat Demolition," was selected to set up a school for Naval Demolitions and direct the entire Project. The first six classes graduated from "Area E" at NTC Camp Peary. LCDR Kauffman's needs quickly out-grew "Area E" and on 6 June 1943 he established NCDU training at Fort Pierce. Most of Kauffman's volunteers came from the navy's Civil Engineer Corps and enlisted seabees. Training commenced with a gruelling week designed to filter out under-performing candidates. By April 1944, a total of 34 NCDUs were deployed to England in preparation for Operation Overlord, the amphibious landing at Normandy. On 6 June 1944, in the face of great adversity, the NCDUs at Omaha Beach managed to blow eight complete gaps and two partial gaps in the German defenses. The NCDUs suffered 31 killed and 60 wounded, a casualty rate of 52%. Meanwhile, the NCDUs at Utah Beach met less intense enemy fire. They cleared 700 yards (640 metres) of beach in two hours, another 900 yards (820 metres) by the afternoon.