The Seaplanebase at Skattøra Tromsø
kontakt LFT

In 2001 the Historical Aviation Association of Tromsø (HAAT) was established to protect the remaining buildings and installations of the old seaplane station of Skattøra in the outskirts of the city of Tromsø in Northern Norway.

After the area was transferred from the Ministry of Defence to the municipality in 1966, land and buildings have been sold to private interests and the area was zoned for industrial development.
In 2001 the property, which includes a large blast wall from WWII – built by East-European prisoners of war - was sold to a private developer.
The major task of HAAT has been to stop this development and the destruction of the blast wall as a major historical war site and as a central part of the still remaining seaplane station.
Skattøra May 2002
The struggle for freedom in 1940 was fougt from Skattøra. Here a captured German He 115 is being put into Norwegian service
A German BV 138 is towed to the Skattøra-quay in 1943.
Norseman based at Skattøra.
Ju 52-passengers disembark after a flight with "Det Norske Luftfartsselskap" (DNL).
Moored Sandringham flyingboat from DNL.
A RNoAF Otter seaplane parked in front of the blast wall at Skattøra.
A Cessna 206 from "Widerøe´s" at Skattøra during the 70-ies.
Historical overview The blast wall as historical site
In 1936 the Norwegian government provided funding for the establishment of the first seaplane station in Northern Norway, providing neutrality watch over the region. The station, which was started constructed in 1939, was to be located at Skattøra in Tromsø, due to its proximity to Finnmark and the Soviet border. The station was operated by the Norwegian Navy, which had its central staff office in Tromsø. From September 1939 the 3. Unit of the Norwegian Fleet Air Arm started its coastal surveillance from Skattøra covering Helgeland in south to Kirkenes in north with Heinkel He-115s and Norwegian built MF-11s. When war broke out in 1940 the station comprised some 60 persons and up to 12 aircraft, carrying out a variety of functions like bomb attacks, reconnaissance and communication flights and a major contribution to the Norwegian and Allied operations against the German forces in Nordland and Troms. A total of 147 operative flights were carried out from Skattøra in this campaign – with no losses.
During the German occupation construction of the station was extended to serve as the central seaplane base in the North during the war years providing maritime reconnaissance, transport and rescue flights, involving a fleet of tankers, crane ships and catapult ships for launching aircraft. At most some 1500 persons were attached to the station, including a sea flight service operated by Lufthansa with connections to the continent. In 1945 the station consisted of more than 60 different buildings.
After the war, Skattøra became once more a regional centre for the development of civilian and military aviation in the North. The Royal Norwegian Air Force used the base for maritime reconnaissance, ambulance and mail flights to Svalbard and the Arctic stations with Norsemans and Catalinas up to 1959. In 1947 Skattøra was designated as one of the five major airports and the only permanent seaplane station in Norway. Thus, Skattøra served as a weather station and as one of the two major centres for air control in Norway covering airspace from Iceland, Jan Mayen, Spitsbergen to the Soviet border and south to Trøndelag (transferred to Bodø 1967).
From 1945, Skattøra was also the major station for civilian air traffic in the North which at that time was still based on the use of seaplanes. Det Norske Luftfartsselskap (DNL) which was emerged with SAS in 1948 used Skattøra as its northern base (together with Sola at Stavanger) for coastal flights from Kirkenes to Oslo, with a fleet of Junkers Ju 52.In 1947 this so-called “Flying Fast Service” (den Flygende Hurtigruten) was extended by the use of four Short Sandringham flying boats. In 1954 SAS transferred its operation of coastal flights to Widerøe with Skattøra as its major base for passenger and ambulance flights and maintenance. Widerøe maintained its activities at Skattøra till 1971 when land based flying was taking over. A number of other civilian companies also used Skattøra up to the mid-1970s.

HAAT has received increasing support for its protests against the destruction of the blast wall. However, local, regional and national authorities have so far been unable and unwilling to intervene.

During the last two years, probably due to the growing publicity of the issue, the property which includes the blast wall has been sold four times. The present owners have in meetings with HAAT, expressed willingness to relocate their project provided they can get access to another site. The municipality owns other sites in the area and HAAT are now cooperating with the cultural office of the municipal administration to find a solution. So far, local politicians have not been willing to come up with an alternative. The owners of the blast wall property cannot delay their project for long. To ensure the protection and development of the blast wall at Skattøra as a memorial WWII site, depends on the public support we can get for this cause.

The story of the prisoners-of-war must not be forgotten. The blast wall must be protected as means to preserve and tell that story to coming generations – for people in Tromsø and elsewhere.
Protesting the destruction of the blast wall
To protect the seaplanes at Skattøra from air attacks, the Germans constructed two blast walls made of stones. The smallest has been converted to a maritime repair shop. The largest – still intact – is ca 6 m high, 70 m long with a depth of 30 m. The walls form an enclosure facing the parking area, the beach slips for launching seaplanes.
The blast walls were constructed during 1943-44 by East-European prisoners of war. For this and other purposes, the Germans built a prisoner-of-war camp at Skattøra, housing more than 200 prisoners. According to local, but so far undocumented, knowledge, prisoners shall have been buried under the walls. This was one of several similar camps put up in Tromsø, but very little information has been recovered on the Skattøra camp and the people who lived and worked there so far.
The blast wall is not only a monumental site in itself, but one of the few major WWII sites in Tromsø. It is the only site in the region, testifying the story of East-European prisoners-of-war in Norway. The fact that it forms a central part of the old seaplane station of Skattøra - the most preserved and only remaining seaplane station in Northern Europe - adds to its significance as a possible memorial and historical site.