United States Naval Air Station

Royal Navy Pacific Fleet Flying Boat Base

Brisbane City

Colmslie Recreation Reserve, Lytton Road, Colmslie 4170

After the establishment of SWPA HQ in Brisbane in July 1942 the US Navy Air Transport Service established a flying boat—seaplanes as they were known to the Americans—service to Brisbane.


A 16 hectare site at Colmslie was occupied by the US Navy in September 1942, and the Marine Board approved all works below the high tide limit in October. The Queensland Main Roads constructed a stone slipway, approximately 250 feet long, 40 feet wide and extending to 8 feet below the water level, for the seaplanes. Hard stand areas and service roads were also built. The slipway construction was completed by December 1942. The slipway enabled ordinary flying boats to be serviced out of the water, and for the amphibian variants to taxi onto the hard stands. A workshop, administration building, store and refuelling system were established on-site. Barracks for US Navy personnel were also erected on the high ground behind the base.

Initially the USN seaplane service brought in passengers and mail, the aircraft consisting of Martin PBM-3 Mariners and also Consolidated Coronado seaplanes. When the US Seventh Fleet was formed in Brisbane in March 1943 a squadron of Catalina seaplanes, VP-101, was brought to Brisbane, followed by another squadron VP-11. These two squadrons formed the US Navy’s Patrol Wing, established in Brisbane in September 1943.

By December 1944 the US Navy no longer required flying boats in Brisbane. From 27 March 1945, the Royal Navy’s Pacific Fleet operated its one squadron of flying boats from the site before moving on to Hong Kong after the war ended in September. The base was decommissioned and handed back in 1945.


USN Bureau of Yards & Docks Section, Defense Aid - Reciprocal and Review Board Report - General, US Naval Base, Navy 134, Brisbane, (1946).