Once the US joined the Allied war effort in April 1917 they determined that naval aviation facilities were necessary along the coast of Ireland. They selected Lough Foyle, Lough Swilly, Queenstown (Cobh), Wexford (Ferrybank), Whiddy Island and Berehaven as sites.
The development of the Whiddy site was difficult as being an island all material had to be shipped to the island. Work started in December 1917 and was completed in August 1918. The base consisted of hangars, slipway, weather and radio stations and a barracks. Staffing was made up of 9 officers, 9 pilots and 399 enlisted men. The first two plane US Navy ‘Curtis H12 Large America’ arrived in September 1918 and went into patrol. The were joined by three other planes. As the war ended in November 1918 the planes in total only logged under 70 hours airtime.
The base after the war was dismantled. Some of the material was auction off locally there is however still the remains of the concrete base of the hangars and other base installations.
See: The Whiddy Island Seaplane Base, Donal Fitzgerald, Bantry Historical and Archaeological Society 1994
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