Wexford

Validation date: 03 09 2012
Updated on: 29 10 2016
Views: 2778
See on the interactive map:


52°20'48"N 006°27'23"W

runway: n/a - water

Naval Air Station Wexford was an American seaplane station 110 kilometers south of Dublin.
The air station was operated by the US Navy from February 1918 and commissioned on 2 May 1918. Its mission was to operate anti-submarine  warfare patrols (ASW) by Curtiss H-16 aircraft in an effort to counter German submarine attacks on shipping in the area east of Queenstown. The station began with one officer and 8 men and ultimately had 20 officers and 406 men on strength.


Map depicting the Irish sea and the position to Wexford. In the lower right corner a motivational line for the airmen!

On 18 September 1918, the station received its first aircraft to begin patrols. On 11 October an enemy submarine was sighted and engaged. On 13 October another submarine was attacked by a seaplane on patrol from NAS Wexford. On 16 October, an ASW patrol out of Wexford (crewed by Lt. J. F. McNamara -1st pilot, Ens. J. R. Biggs -2nd pilot, and Ens. George W. Shaw -observer) dropped bombs on a submarine. The submarine then surfaced at irregular intervals and eventually disappeared. A search of the area revealed large quantities of oil and some debris on the surface. Although destruction seemed certain, Admiralty assessment was "probably seriously damaged". By the end of the month, submarine sightings had become scarce in the Wexford area.
Due to the armistice, the operations ceased after only 8 weeks, during which period 98 patrol flights and 312 hours of flight were made. There had been very few instructional flights, as most second pilots qualified during operational sorties.
When the news of the Armistice was received, the planes had to be disarmed and all progressive construction and operation had to cease. Within 12 days the first draft left the station. 200 men were on their way back to the USA and the remainder was almost ready to leave. With the end of the war, the U.S. Naval Air Stations in Ireland were no longer required. The Anti-submarine warfare patrols were discontinued and the aircraft were grounded and disarmed. The station was closed on 15 February 1919.


Testing Liberty engines on Curtiss H-16 seaplane at NAS Wexford (coll. Veronica Murphy, via Wikipedia)


Dated 1918-1919 (via Facebook NAS Wexford Group)


Dated 1918-1919 (via Facebook NAS Wexford Group)

It is not known exactly what happened to the air station after the Americans had left. Irish independence and the ensuing civil war left many destructions in the area. In 1939 the slipway saw some avaition activity again, albeit quite litterally by accident. A Supermarine Walrus of the Irish Air Corps (serialled N.18) suffered substantial hull damage when the crew (Lt Quinlan and Lt Higgins) had to ditch her in the high seas on 3 March 1939, some 20 years after the air station was closed. The Rosslare life boat and a fishing boat towed N.18 to the former NAS slipway. This particular aircraft survived and is now on display at the Fleet Air Museum as L2301.

Today, only the slipway and rail system used for launching and retrieving the seaplanes are still quite visible.


The slipway of NAS Wexford (center) in 2010, 90 years after the Air Station closed (Google Earth)

Many thanks to Veronica Murphy, probably THE researcher on this air station, who kindly allowed me to freely use the results of her research!