The Keeling Islands is also know as the
Cocos Islands, is a small cluster of some twenty seven originally
uninhabited island. It wasn't until the 1820's when explorer,
John Clunies Ross, settled here and found the islands suitable
for harvesting coconut palms. He planted hundreds of plants
to establish a business on the islands.
In 1927 the surveyor, Lt Nixon struggled
to find a passenger ship that would divert to the isolated
archipelago. The ship owners were reluctant due to the fear
of running around on potential reefs surrounding the island.
Of the islands, the most suited was Ross Island, being some
5 miles long, and over 700 meters wide.
The other islands in the chain were deemed
too small for the purposes. To make way for the base, and
potential mast, the island would have to be cleared, and
also the provision of fresh water was essential. Airships
were unable to use seawater as ballast due to the corrosive
properties. The survey team would overcome this problem
by the sinking of wells in the main part of the island as
a source of fresh water. In addition to this, and for the
quantities needed for commercial airship operation, a sea
water condensing plant would also be required to set up.
Another provision for the proposed mast
would be for the strengthening of the mast against hurricanes.
It was noted that the islands had been previously battered
by a hurricane in 1909, with wind speeds recorded of 150mph.
Whether as an emergency base or as a permanent
base, these sorts of extra requiments would need to be taken
in to account. Along with fresh water, a a hydrogen production
plan would also need to be able to top up any ship with
any vented hydrogen during the voyage. A silicol production
plant would also need to be established. A line of supply
of coke and other essential consumables could be established
from Durban to the Keeling Islands.
Despite seeming remote, the plans for either
an emergency base, or permanent main base on the Keeling
Ilands would have made a very interesting and unique location.
However due to the R101 crash, the plans for the extension
of the Imperial Airship scheme, remained thus, just as plans.