Construction of the airfield began in 1942, at the time it
was intended for use by RAF Coastal Command. While still
under construction it was decided that Coastal Command no
longer required the station so it was offered to Bomber
Command, they also declined it as unsuitable. The Air
Ministry next offered the station to the Admiralty who
accepted it with the intention of commissioning the station
as H.M.S. SISKIN.
The station was transferred to the Admiralty on May 15th
1944 and work continued to develop the site as a Royal Naval
Air Station. When the war in Europe ended a year later the
station was still not ready to begin operations. By the
summer of 1945 it became clear the station would not be
required to commission and the promulgated name of ‘SISKIN’
was instead given to RNAS Gosport in August when it was
transferred from the RAF/ On September 29th 1945 RNAS
Dounreay was reduced to Care and Maintenance status as
H.M.S. ‘Tern III’ with accounts borne in H.M.S. “OWL” (R.N.
Air Station, Feam).
From July 1946 the station became a tender to the newly
opened Naval Air Station at Lossiemouth, the airfield
accounts being carried on the books of H.M.S. FULMAR. With
the closure of the naval airfields in the Shetland and
Orkney Islands after the war RNAS Dounreay was proposed as a
temporary base for squadrons disembarking from ships
visiting the anchorage at Scapa Flow. In order to provide
facilities at the station, without commissioning it and
providing a permenant complement, it was to be manned by a
Mobile Naval Air Base (M.O.N.A.B.) and a Fleet Requirements
Unit would be made available. At this time only one
M.O.N.A.B. remained intact,
M.O.N.A.B. 10, which was at RNAS Lossiemouth as part of
the M.O.N.A.B. Development Unit.
There is no evidence to suggest that the M.O.N.A.B. was ever
installed at RNAS Dounreay.
RNAS Dounreay was returned to Air Ministry control in
January 1954 and in 1955 the airfield was taken over by the
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) for
developing a fast breeder reactor. One runway was
operational until the 1990s.
1 Nearly every account of this
station give this as 'TERN II' - BUT A.F.O. 6678/45 sates
"As a result of the end of the war. the Air
Station which was under construction at Dounreay, Caithness,
will not now be required to commission for the present. It
will ho held on care and maintenance as H.M.S. "Tern III" as
from 29th September, 1945, with accounts bone in H.M.S.
"Owl" (R.N. Air Station, Fearn)."
Click here for a list of
Admiralty Fleet Orders:
3594/45 R.N. Air Station Dounreay - Reduction to Care and
6673/45 R.N. Air Station Dounreay
Confidential Admiralty Fleet Orders:
814/44 R.A.F. Station,
Dounreay - Transfer to Royal Navy