U.S. Naval Air Station Wexford was a seaplane station at Ferrybank, Wexford, which was operated by the United States Navy during WWl. Its mission was to operate anti-submarine patrols to counter German submarine attacks on shipping in the area east of Queenstown (Cobh), writes Liam Gaul.
The sinking of RMS Lusitania on Friday, 7 May, 1917, brought the United States of America into World War One. In 1918, the U.S. Navy had a force of over 400 sailors and 20 officers and 4 Curtiss H-16 seaplanes based at Ferrybank, Wexford. The station was a veritable village with accommodation, hospital, medics, post office, YMCA Hall, radio towers, electricity-generating plant and four very large aircraft hangers.
The Air Station was only operational for a limited period but its impact was considerable and its achievements in the global conflict were significant, protecting shipping from German U-boats.
The air station, started by the British Admiralty in the early weeks of 1918 at Ferrybank, Wexford, was taken over by the U.S. Navy. On the 25 February the first United States Naval Forces arrived from Aghada (Queenstown) under the command of Officer Charles A. Rogers.
Lieutenant Commander Victor Daniel Herbster arrived to take command of the base on the 5 April 1918 and during his tenure in Wexford had the sole responsibility for the air station and all its activities.
Small drafts of men came from Aghada, Co. Cork, and by 1st. July the numbers had reached 232 men and 13 officers and by August numbers finalised with 20 officers and 410 men, plus 8 other personnel, bringing a total of 438 personnel by the end of October. All ready to engage in battle with the German U-boats.
On Wednesday 18 September four Curtiss H-16 seaplanes left from Aghada enroute to Ferrybank, Wexford. On 21 September, just a mere three days after the anti-submarine patrols had begun, a German U-boat was sighted and was attacked by H-16 A1079 from Wexford.
Two bombs were dropped close to the submarine, both bombs exploding and damaging the submarine.