Report - - RNAD Milford Haven - June 09 | Military Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - RNAD Milford Haven - June 09


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The Naval Armaments depot at Milford Haven was constructed during a rapid period of rearmament in the lead up to World War II. During the last year of the First World War the German fleet launched a devastatingly successful Uboat campaign against merchant shipping off the western coast line of the British Isles. Milford Haven suddenly became a strategically important base for anti submarine forces to combat the submarine threat, but as the war ended this importance soon faded and the Royal Navy left the haven. The successful German U boat campaign was not forgotten, as a second war with Germany became increasingly likely the Strategic importance of Milford haven once again became clear to military planners.

If Britain was to survive it would be dependent upon supplies shipped in from around the world all approaching the west coast where they once again would be make tempting targets for German Boats. Much of the fixed defenses of Britain's western approaches would depend fixed deep sea mine fields and Milford haven was selected as the Ideal base for servicing the mine laying ships which would construct and maintain these's defenses. The English and Bristol Channel approaches could be reached directly from Milford Haven and the North Western approaches to Liverpool could be easily reached via the Irish Sea.

In 1934 the Admiralty purchased Thomas Ward's ship breaking yard at Newton Noyes, the yard contained a sturdy cast iron pier originally built in 1872 to transfer passengers from the Railway to waiting steamships. The pier and its excellent rail links made the yard a very suitable location for conversion in to naval depot. Construction work began the following year and by the outbreak of war in 1939 the Depot was ready for action.

The completed arms depot consisted of a rail transfer facility where deactivated mines could be transferred from incoming standard gauge railway wagons on to an extensive narrow gauge rail network. from here the mines could be moved into the storage facility or directly into the massive armament sheds where they could be completed and armed ready for use. The heart of the facility was series of six tunnels bored into the sides of a small valley which ran a alongside the shoreline. Each of these tunnels was served by a narrow gauge siding and individually sealed off with ventilated blast doors and protected by thick concrete walls at their entrance so that the mines stored in one tunnel would be safe from accidental detonations in any other other tunnels. Further up the valley a large reservoir was excavated so that plentiful supplies of water would be on hand if fire broke piped to all areas including all of the storage tunnels and hydrants within all the major buildings. Besides each major building there is a hydrant able to deliver a large volume of water quickly. Along with the facilities for arming and storing the mines the depot was also also fully equipped to re supply mine laying ships other needs along with workshop facilities to perform maintenance and light repair work on the ships themselves.

During the first year of the war there was little work for the Milford depot as the Navy's few mine laying ships were required to concentrate on defending the English channel approaches to Dover. From 1940 onwards Milford Haven became a regular haunt for the ships like HMS Adventure, which spent more than a year calling at the mine depot to rearm while the minefields were laid around the western approaches and as far afield as the Bay of Biscay. Before she was knocked out of action after hitting a mine herself during early 1941. After 1943 the Uboat threat diminished and the depot's role changed slightly from activating mines from deployment around the British coast, to preparing them for shipment to depots further afield throughout 1943 100 mines a time were shipped from Milford Haven to Mers El Kebir in North Africa for the Mediterranean Fleet.

Following the end of World War II the depot maintained its role as the Royal Navy's mine depot servicing ships which were deployed during the Korean and Falkland wars. Throughout the 1970's and 80's the depot also became an important staging post for Royal Navy destroyers there way to and from deployments. From Milford the ships could take on numerous supplies held with in the depots warehouses as well as general armaments brought in by rail from the nearby Trecwn RNAD. During one of these supply stopovers HMS Bristol the navy's only Type 82 destroyer caught fire and in order to prevent the fire spreading to the arms depot Bristol had to be towed out into the Haven for the fire to be brought under control.

As the tensions between East and West cooled during the late 1980's the Ministry of defense announced that RNAD milford would close. 175 people were employed there at the time 73 were made redundant. Following the closure the land was initially sold off to Gulf Oil who planned to use the site for the construction of a £35 Million jetty for handling super tankers, nothing came to these plans but Gulf did convert one of the main armament sheds into an indoor athletics arena for uses by the local community although it appears to have been abandoned for some time. The land has been in the hands of the local council for many years following Gulf's interest, their attempts to sell the land on in 2006 attracted some controversy but it is now owned by a Renewable energy company who plan to the use the site for developing a cutting edge bio diesel plant.

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