RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Any photos, plans, drawings, directions, helpful hints on visting places where flying boats have been operated from historically, or are being operated from today. I am always interested in receiving 'Then & Now' type photographs to assist current day visitors to these place. I'm trying to record the best places to visit before they disappear for ever.

Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Pondskater » Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:51 pm

And I still giggle about it. It is all relative. £62 seems an awful lot to me right now for that book but I've just agreed to buy an aircraft manual for exactly the same price, which seemed very good value.

Are you going to Fiji? How much has it changed since the flying boats operated? Is the harbour much the same? I have a couple of photos of Singapore in the Sunderland days which make old hands go misty eyed. Apparently it is totally different now.

Allan
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Bumble » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:51 pm

No,we're only going to NZ,Fiji's a bit too exotic for us.I can't wait to get back to NZ and its wonderfully welcoming people,not to mention its plain wonderful home baking ! We're having a couple of nights in Singapore on the way back,though if it's as humid there as it usually is I don't see us tracking down any flying boat related history.Last time we were there crossing the road to McDonalds was enough to make us collapse in a heap.I'll be asking my Dad a bit more about his memories of Singapore before we go though.
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:20 pm

Bumble wrote:Actually I got the book's title wrong.It should be The golden age of New Zealand flying boats.


I don't have the book myself, my father had one in his library, which I have read, good book :D

On occasion you can find it on the local auction site here, but it still gets pricey though.

So you're heading back down this way in November? Are you stopping in Auckland?
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby Bumble » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:11 pm

Hi Alan,we haven't planned our itinerary yet but we'll definitely be in Auckland for a few nights in early November.We'd love to treat you and Melanie to dinner,if you can get a baby-sitter.It would be great to see Peter too,but strictly land-based this time !!! cheers,Anne
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby sunderlandmr5 » Sat Jun 20, 2009 2:04 pm

Hi Anne

It would great to catch up with you and have dinner also.

Regards

Alan
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby alan » Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:10 am

Hi guys,
Great photos, but would have any info on the base at "Seweni Bay" which is on the western side of the main island of Fiji and only a few miles from Nadi airport. The main ramp is very broken, but still quite recognizable, together with other building foundations.
Cheers,
Alan G.
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby flyernzl » Thu Nov 10, 2011 11:11 am

See my response to your other post here in the Wartime thread.
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby alan » Thu Nov 10, 2011 10:27 pm

SAWENI BAY.
Sorry guys I had the spelling wrong, which may make a difference. It is still near Nadi airport ,and has to have been a flying boat ,or landing craft ramp of some sort.
As a side, the house and orchid gardens which belonged to the actor" Raymond Burr" ( IRONSIDE ), Is only 100meters from the site of the concrete ramp.
Hope someone can help.
Alan G.
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby flyernzl » Sat Nov 12, 2011 9:44 pm

You are quite right Alan, Lauthala Bay is on the eastern outskirts of Suva while Saweni Beach (note correct spelling) is the other end of the island, on the western side of Nandi. Saweni Beach is 5 miles south of Lautoka, a major port.

Image

From Building the Navy's Bases in World War II:

"Companies C and D of the 3rd Construction Battalion left the United States in June 1942, for Fiji"
"After establishing camp, Company C built a jetty, 60 feet long and 300 feet wide, at Lautoka, and a small-boat landing at Vunda Point in Nandi Bay. They also proceeded with the surveying, planning, and drafting work for the tank farm and erected a 10,000-barrel gasoline tank, including camouflage, at Sambeto. For the Saweni Beach seaplane base, 10 miles north of Nandi Airfield, where initial facilities had been provided by the personnel of a naval patrol squadron, the company constructed a seaplane ramp and apron, 50 feet by 300 feet, a small-boat landing, and camp facilities for 200 men"
"4 Aug 1942: VP-11 headquarters was shifted from Suva to Saweni Beach with six aircraft, the remainder still based at Noumea."
"By August 1944, when CBMU 503 left Fiji, major activities had been abandoned. The facilities at Saweni Beach seaplane base were discontinued and salvaged. Most of the Army airfields were inoperative. NATS operated from the seaplane base at Lauthala Bay. "

So the flying boat base at Saweni Beach would have had an active life of two years.
I have no note any any RNZAF activity from this location, so I would suggest that it was exclusively a US Navy flying boat base.
The first RNZAF Sunderlands (which were unarmed military transport aircraft) did not enter service in the South Pacific until early 1945, by which time the base at Saweni had been closed down.

From Dallas Jones, who was with a US Navy PBY Catalina Squadron:
BULA BLNAKA VP-11 DEPLOYED TO FIJI IN JULY 1942.IWAS IN A DETACHMENT THAT FUTHER DEPLOYED TO NOUMEWAU NEW CALDONIA.THE REMAINDER OF THE SQUADRON OPERATED FROM SUVA .THE NAVY SEABEES WERE BUILDING A SEAPLANE BASE SAWENI BEACH .THEY BUILT A SEAPLANE RAMP AND OTHER MAINTAINANCE FACILITIES.WE WERE FLYING IN SUPPORT OF GUADUALCANALIN OCTOBER 1942 THE REMAINDER OF THE SQUADRON DEPLOYED TO NDW CALDONIA AND NEW HEBDRIES.IM NOT SURE WHETHER OTHER SQUADRONS OPERATED FROM THERE.THERE DEFANTLY WAS A SEAPLANE RAMP BUILT THERE.
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Re: RNZAF Lauthala Bay, Fiji

Postby alan » Mon Nov 14, 2011 3:00 am

SAWENI BAY,
To "FLYERNZL"
Thankyou so much for your comprehensive reply.
As I mentioned before, we have been sailing and racing up to, and around Fiji for a good few years and anchored in Saweni bay often.
I think maybe the base even had mooring blocks out in the bay which one is inclined to get caught up on occasionally.
However it wasn't until this trip that a friend on board suggested that his father may have served there, that I decided to ask arround.
It seems from your reply,his father may have served in lauthala bay instead.
The only name I have is Squadron Leader Bob Reynolds NZ who was in Fiji during ww2.

I know the "Beach House" resort has been unable to find any history at all.
Thank you again,
Cheers,
Alan G.
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