The northern reaches
of the Irish Sea were shipping lanes heading out from the
docks of Liverpool, and during the First World War, were
needing protection from the threat of enemy submarines.
The area of low lying land at the head of Luce Bay, which
was protected by the worst of the prevailing winds by rising
low buff ground to the east and the west of the area, providing
shelter. In the second year of the war, it was decided to
site the new RNAS airship station here, and in the months
of May and June 1915 the single airship shed was under construction.
The size of the shed was to enable the housing of four Submarine
Scout class airships, with workshops and offices situated
in annexes along the outside walls of the main shed.
15th July 1915 saw the official commissioning of the RNAS
Luce Bay Station. The first two airships to arrive were
Submarine Scouts S.S.17 and S.S.23. They arrived by road
and could not be inflated until the doors on the shed were
finally fitted on the 1st August 1915.
September 1915 saw an
additional ship added to the fleet at Luce Bay, and live
bombing practice was undertaken on targets at sea.
Work continued on the
shed in 1916 as the concreting of the floor had yet to be
completed and left nowhere for the airships enveloped to
be laid out and inflated.
Getting to the station
proved a challenge and the roads became impassable in the
winter and the only way for the hydrogen cylinders to be
delivered was by horse and cart.
As with all RNAS Stations,
Luce Bay had its own wireless station, and in 1915
intercepted messages from German submarines thought to be
about 100 miles to the north.
Escorting ships became
the major role for the four ships based out of Luce bay
with 1917 seeing a huge increase in flying hours by the
ships to some 1,300 hours. The Stranraer to Larne Ferry,
an essential link between Scotland and Northern Ireland
was always escorted by one the SS ships. A mooring out station
at Larne was set up to receive the SS ship and re-fuel.