Wrecks over 100 years old and archaeological objects found underwater are protected under the National Monuments (Amendment) Acts 1987 and 1994.  Significant wrecks less that 100 years old can be designated by Underwater Heritage Order (UHO) on account of their historical, archaeological or artistic importance as is the case with the wreck of the RMS Lusitania lost off the Old Head of Kinsale in 1915.  UHOs can also be used to designate areas of seabed or land covered by water to more clearly define and protect wreck sites and archaeological objects .  /  /  site first uploaded 24th September 2002
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The United States naval Air Service in Cork, Ireland
1918 to 1919

Sinking of a British Merchantman, (From German propaganda postcard by Willy Stower)

The entry of the United States into the First World War in 1917 saw the arrival of US forces in Europe to aid the Allied cause. The US Navy had bases in mainland Europe and the British Isles in an attempt to combat the U-Boat menace, including the first at Queenstown (Cobh) in Ireland.

The Naval Aviation Branch, known as the United States Naval Air Service also needed bases for the recently developed weapon of the flying boat, as well as stations for kite balloons.

In Ireland there were four flying boat bases, located at:
Queenstown (actually Aghada in Cork)
Lough Foyle,
Whiddy Island.
There was also a kite balloon station at Berehaven in West Cork.

This Irish unit was organised as USNAS Ireland under Commander F.McCrary, who was based at Queenstown.

The command was established in February 1918 and all bases were completed by September 1918. The largest base, and headquarters for Ireland, was in Aghada (Queenstown), on the eastern side of Cork Harbour, on a site chosen by the British Admiralty .

This land was commandeered under the ‘Defence of the Realm’ act. Aghada was not only an operational flying boat base, but also was the assembly premises for planes, and training station for pilots on the 'Ireland Station'.

There were also depot sheds at Sir John Rogersons Quay in Dublin

The Aghada station had an area of operations that covered areas from Cape Clear in the West, to the convoy channels to the east on the routes to France in the St Georges Channel.

The flying boats used in Ireland were of one type, the Curtiss Large America H16. This aircraft, which was enormous for it’s time was a twin-engined craft with a 76ft wingspan and 2 x 400hp liberty engines. It’s length was 46 feet.

The first planes arrived in Queenstown in June 1918 and operational patrols began in August 1918. The Aghada base had 28 planes and nearly 1500 personnel by the Armistice in November 1918.

These were the early stages of naval aviation, and the fact the USNAS managed to have patrols in operation was very creditable.   The lack of success in destroying German submarines was tempered with the fact that the German High Command became very wary of theses patrols, and tried to route their flotillas round them, hampering operations.

Plan of USNAS Airbase at Aghada, Co.Cork.

Site of airbase at waters edge. This included 6 hangers, concrete apron, slipway, pier,maintenance sheds, assembly sheds, wireless installation, pigeon loft, storage sheds. Saobhran Cottage on shore also taken over. New road built inland to enlarge site. Lower Aghada British Army camp, taken over and used for administration. Aghada Hall and new hutments used as Headquaters for USNAS Ireland.

‘Timber Town’, (Upper Aghada British Army camp). Taken over by USNAS. Used for living quarters for enlisted men and ancillary works. Also included YMCA building.

The only known fatality from operations on the Irish Coast was the crash of aircraft no A1072 in Whiddy, on the 22nd October 1918 resulting in the loss of one crew member. With the Armistice there was no need for these bases and the Queenstown base closed on the 10th of April 1919.

Quickly the fixtures and fittings were sold and auctioned off to the residents and businesses of Cork, and notices such as the ones below continued in the local press for most of the summer of 1919..

In 1919 two Royal Irish Constabulary officers, were apprehended by the US naval guard breaking into the stores at the Aghada base. both were jailed.

By the mid-1920's, all the buildings on the base were gone, what remained was;

A solid concrete foundation for the six hangers and apron, measuring a gigantic 112,860 feet.

Two concrete floors just to the west of this, measuring 80 x 70 feet.

A quarry adjacent to the site capable of providing most building materials

The large concrete slipway, capable of launching vessels up to fifty feet in length

A stone pier to the west, which could be extended by replacing the pilings to 250 feet.

Six concrete shed foundations, near the pier, measuring 100 x 25 feet.

There was also a substantial concrete roadway joining all these remains, as well as a  seawall to protect the site.  It was envisaged that industry would be attracted to the site, but this was not to happen for some years. The only development seen was for the local Improvement Committee, to get tennis courts built on some of the gigantic concrete slabs - the club survives to this day.

In 1919 there was an ambitious plan, on behalf of the The Great Northern Aerial Syndicate, to use Aghada as a base for giant airships crossing the Atlantic, each carrying 150 passengers.   In the late 1920's and early 1930's, the site was examined as a potential seaplane base,  by companies, such as Royal Dutch Airlines, who sent a representative to visit and take photos, but to no avail.

In the 1960's there was a short-lived attempt to produce hovercraft in  a building on the western edge of the site, but this quickly failed.

USNAS Operations in Ireland, to Nov 11th 1918.


Operations commenced:  Sep 30th 1918

Aircraft Nov 11th 1918:  28 Seaplanes

Number of flights   64

Number of sea miles patrolled 11,568

Number of officers   72

Numbers of men   1426

Lough Foyle:

Operations commenced:  Sep 3rd 1918

Aircraft Nov 11th 1918:  7 Seaplanes

Number of flights   6000

Number of sea miles patrolled 11,568

Number of officers   20

Numbers of men   432


Operations commenced:  Sep 18th 1918

Aircraft Nov 11th 1918:  5 Seaplanes

Number of flights   98

Number of sea miles patrolled 19,135

Number of officers   22

Numbers of men   405

Whiddy Island:

Operations commenced:  Sep 25th 1918

Aircraft Nov 11th 1918:  3 Seaplanes

Number of flights   25

Number of sea miles patrolled 3870

Number of officers   18

Numbers of men   400


Operations commenced:  May 21st 1918

Aircraft Nov 11th 1918:  16 Kite Balloons

Number of flights   Test flights only

Number of sea miles patrolled ------

Number of officers   12

Numbers of men   91

View of the apron at Aghada USNAS Base

US Navy Pages on this Site

    United States Navy in Ireland     US Submarines in Cork     US Battleships in Cork    US Subchasers in Cork    

US Navy Casualties in Ireland WW1    US Naval Hospital in Cork    US Navy Fleet List in Cork     USNAS in Cork Ireland