Changing times: Squadron VP45 PBY anti-submarine flying boat, top, taking off from the Great Sound, circa 1941-1945. *Photo supplied
Changing times: Squadron VP45 PBY anti-submarine flying boat, top, taking off from the Great Sound, circa 1941-1945. *Photo supplied

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WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27: The US Naval Base at Morgan’s Point played a crucial role for American forces during the Second World War as well as the Cold War.

The facility was used by seaplanes to launch patrols of the North Atlantic for German submarines during World War II.

And later on the Naval Operations Base (NOB) and the nearby Tudor Hill facility were used to monitor sonar rays searching for Russian submarines trying to get across the Atlantic to Cuba.

The land swap agreement announced earlier this week will see the old base pass on to three developers to build a $2 billion luxury resort that includes hotels, condominiums, a golf course, marina and a retail plaza.

Historian Dr Edward Harris sees the move as part of the evolution of ‘tourism replacing the military’ in Bermuda.

He told the Bermuda Sun: “Before the Second World War Morgan’s Point as it is now was divided into two islands; Morgan and Tucker’s Island.

“They were detached and they were owned by the Dill family who lived in Devonshire.

“The agreement to sell the land was made just three days before war broke out in Europe and the NOB was not actually established until April 7, 1941.”

The Naval Base continued to be a hot bed of activity throughout the Second World War and the Cold War until 1995 when it was officially closed down and the US forces left Bermuda.

Dr Harris added: “The US Base was vital for the defence of Bermuda because Britain was over-extended.

“The Americans effectively took over the defence of Bermuda.

“Part of that was having seaplanes based at the NOB as well as warships.

“The impact of the base extended the coast of the US to an imaginary line 700 miles out to sea providing air cover.

“This was very important and the third German submarine to be sunk in the war was sunk by a seaplane coming out of Morgan’s Point.

Russian

“The importance continued during the Cold War when the base and Tudor Hill was used to monitor sonar rays sent out across the Atlantic to track the propeller noise of Russian submarines.

“It’s for these reasons that Morgan’s Point played an important role in Bermudian history.”

Dr Harris told the Sun he supported the base’s land use shift towards tourism, but he said he hoped that some of the peninsula’s heritage would be preserved.

He added: “ There are two old houses on Morgan’s Point that are still standing today.

“One is a beautiful old Bermuda house that used to be the officer’s mess and dance hall. I hope parts like this will be preserved as part of the development.

“But I believe that tourism may be the best use of the old military lands and I hope it succeeds.”