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HMS Collen (1914-1922)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
CountryFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
FirstCaptain Robert H. Travers
LastCommander John May

Berehaven was a naval base and former Royal Navy area command established in 1898 and existed until 9 October, 1922.[1]


Berehaven is a port situated at the southwest corner of Ireland.[1]


Location Map of Berehaven courtesy of Gordon Smith Source:

In 1796 the French had attempted to invade Ireland by way of Bantry Bay, and so the British were obliged to establish a base there in case they tried again. Here a naval base was little more than an anchorage with a modest shore establishment, all protected by some useful if unimposing fortification—in this case four Martello towers. The Royal Navy first moved into the waters of west Cork in 1797. The west coast of Ireland is, in nautical terms, ‘iron-bound’, and the prevailing westerlies obliged ships to be wary of it. After all, the unhappy combination of rocks and the strong winds to drive ships onto those rocks had done for the Spanish Armada.

With a large and expanding empire to police, Britain had naval bases all over the world, and Berehaven was thus in no way remarkable. Berehaven Harbour is located in Bantry Bay, West Cork and was chosen as a base by the British due to its deep sheltered waters and its ready access to the Atlantic Ocean.

In 1866 the Atlantic Telegraph Fleet was stationed at Berehaven to lay submarine cable between Ireland and the United States. In 1898 land was purchased by compulsory order in 1898 to erect suitable defences to protect the Royal Navy base and its Dreadnoughts which would soon be based there. Many of the gun batteries remain to this day.

The base was modernised and strengthened at the end of the nineteenth century, as was the fleet, in response to the rising power of the French—and more particularly the German—navy. With the modern fortifications almost complete in September 1902. During World War I Berehaven was a minor British naval base and into the early part of the inter-war period. It functioned as sub-base to Auxiliary Patrol Area XXI, which was primarily based in Queenstown.[1] Today the port is called "Castletownbere".[1]

Berehaven remained in the hands of the British during the first World War. Ireland became a free state in December 1922 due to the Irish Free State Constitution Act 1922, however a clause in the treaty meant the harbour defences at Cork, Berehaven and Lough Swilly were to remain in control of the British government and became known as the Treaty Ports. In March 1938, when the British government announced that the Treaty Ports would be returned to Eire unconditionally by the end of the year.

In Command

Senior Officer, Berehaven

  1. Captain Robert H. Travers, 24 September, 1914 – November, 1915, (Rtd).[1]
  2. Commander Odiarne U. Coates, November, 1915 – 27 May, 1917, (Rtd).[1]
  3. Commodore, Second Class Hugh L. P. Heard, 23 April, 1917 – 16 January, 1919.[1]
  4. Commodore, Second Class Charles R. Sharp, 4 January, 1919 – 24 August, 1920.[1]
  5. Commander John May, 3 August, 1920 – 9 October, 1922 (acting).[1]

King's Harbour Master, Berehaven (1920-1922)

  1. Commander John May, 3 August, 1920 – 9 October, 1922.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (21 August 2019). "Berehaven - The Dreadnought Project". Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 18 June 2020.