Harbor Defense Command

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A Harbor Defense Command was a military organization of the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps designated in 1925 from predecessor organizations dating from circa 1895.[1][2] It consisted of the forts, submarine minefields, and other coastal defenses of a particular harbor or river. Harbor Defense Commands were disestablished in 1950 along with the Coast Artillery Corps.


These commands originated as Artillery Districts, to control groups of forts constructed under the Endicott Program beginning in 1895.[3] A 1909 reference shows that districts could include (depending on size) a Battle Command (later Fort Command), Fire Command, Mine Command, and Battery Commands.[4][5] In 1913 the districts were redesignated as Coast Defense Commands, called "Coast Defenses of..." the area protected.[3][6] At this time Coast Artillery Districts became regional commands, each controlling several Coast Defense Commands.[7] Several of these commands were disarmed and disestablished between World War I and World War II, although minefield defenses may have been retained (references are unclear). Some of the disarmed commands were rearmed in World War II with "Panama mounts", circular concrete platforms for towed 155 mm guns. Some of these rearmed commands and other hastily-armed areas were designated as "Temporary Harbor Defenses". In 1925 the Coast Defense Commands were redesignated as Harbor Defense Commands, called "Harbor Defenses of..." the area protected.[8][9] After World War II all of these commands were disarmed within a few years, and they and the Coast Artillery Corps were disestablished in 1950.

Harbor Defense Command areas[edit]

The major Harbor Defense Commands in the Continental United States (CONUS) were:[6][10][11][12]

Name State(s) Forts Years active in coast defense Notes
The Kennebec Maine Fort Baldwin, Fort Popham 1899-1924 Probably merged with Coast Defenses of Portland prior to 1917 (not listed in Rinaldi WWI),[13] rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
Portland Maine Fort McKinley, Fort Lyon, Fort Levett, Fort Preble, Fort Williams, Peaks Island Military Reservation 1898-1948
Portsmouth New Hampshire, Maine Fort Foster, Fort Constitution, Fort Stark, Fort Dearborn 1898-1948
Boston Massachusetts Fort Ruckman, Fort Banks, Fort Heath, Fort Dawes, Fort Warren, Fort Standish, Fort Strong, Fort Andrews, Fort Duvall, Fort Revere, East Point Military Reservation 1896-1948
New Bedford Massachusetts Fort Rodman 1899-1946
Narragansett Bay Rhode Island Fort Adams, Fort Church, Fort Wetherill, Fort Getty, Fort Burnside, Fort Greble, Fort Kearny, Fort Varnum, Fort Greene 1898-1947
Long Island Sound New York, Rhode Island Fort Mansfield, Fort H. G. Wright, Fort Michie, Fort Terry, Fort Tyler, Camp Hero 1900-1948
Eastern New York New York Fort Slocum, Fort Schuyler, Fort Totten 1897-1935 Anti-aircraft training center in World War II[14]
Southern New York New York, New Jersey Fort Tilden, Fort Hamilton, Fort Wadsworth, Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook Proving Ground, Highlands Military Reservation 1890-1948 Also separate Harbor Defenses of Sandy Hook since at least World War I, merged in World War II as Harbor Defenses of New York[15]
Sandy Hook New Jersey Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook Proving Ground, Highlands Military Reservation 1915?-1942 Probably split from HD Southern New York 1915,[16] merged with HD Southern New York in World War II as Harbor Defenses of New York[15]
The Delaware Delaware, New Jersey Fort Mott, Fort Delaware, Fort DuPont, Fort Saulsbury, Fort Miles, Cape May Military Reservation 1899-1948
Baltimore Maryland Fort Howard, Fort Carroll, Fort Armistead, Fort Smallwood 1899-1927
The Potomac Maryland, Virginia Fort Washington, Fort Hunt 1898-1929
Chesapeake Bay Virginia Fort Monroe, Fort Wool, Fort John Custis, Fort Story 1897-1948
Beaufort North Carolina Fort Macon 1941-1945 Temporary in World War II with 155 mm GPF guns
The Cape Fear North Carolina Fort Caswell 1899-1925
Wilmington North Carolina Kure Beach Military Reservation 1940-1945 Temporary in World War II with Panama mounts
Charleston South Carolina Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter 1898-1947
Port Royal Sound South Carolina Fort Fremont 1897-1914
Savannah Georgia Fort Screven, Fort Pulaski 1898-1928 rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
Key West Florida Fort Taylor 1900-1946
Tampa Bay Florida Fort Dade, Fort DeSoto 1899-1926 rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
Pensacola Florida Fort Pickens, Fort McRee 1898-1947
Mobile Alabama Fort Morgan, Fort Gaines 1898-1928 rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
The Mississippi Louisiana Fort St. Philip, Fort Jackson 1898-1920 rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II as Temporary Harbor Defenses of New Orleans
Galveston Texas Fort Travis, Fort San Jacinto, Fort Crockett 1898-1946
San Diego California Fort Rosecrans, Fort Emory 1900-1946
Los Angeles California Fort MacArthur, White Point Military Reservation, Bolsa Chica Military Reservation 1917-1948
San Francisco California Fort Funston, Fort Miley, Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott, Fort McDowell, Fort Baker, Fort Barry, Fort Cronkhite 1894-1948
The Columbia Oregon, Washington Fort Stevens, Fort Columbia, Fort Canby 1898-1947
Puget Sound Washington Fort Ward, Fort Whitman, Fort Flagler, Fort Casey, Fort Worden, Fort Ebey 1899-1943
Cape Flattery Washington Camp Hayden, Cape Flattery Military Reservation 1942-1948

The major Harbor Defense Commands in US territories were:[10][11]

Name Territory Forts Years active in coast defense Notes
Honolulu Hawaii Fort Ruger, Fort DeRussy, Fort Armstrong 1910-1946 Coast Defenses of Oahu divided into Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in March 1921
Pearl Harbor Hawaii Fort Barrette, Fort Weaver, Fort Kamehameha 1914-1948 Coast Defenses of Oahu divided into Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in March 1921
Kaneohe Bay and the North Shore Hawaii Fort Hase 1940-1946
Manila and Subic Bays Philippines Fort Mills, Fort Drum, Fort Frank, Fort Hughes, Fort Wint 1910-1942
Cristobal Panama Canal Zone Fort Randolph, Fort De Lesseps, Fort Sherman 1912-1948 Atlantic side
Balboa Panama Canal Zone Fort Kobbe, Fort Amador, Fort Grant 1912-1948 Pacific side
Sitka Alaska Fort Babcock, Fort Peirce, Fort Rousseau 1944-1950
Seward Alaska Fort McGilvray, Fort Bulkley 1941-1945 Only Panama mounts completed
Kodiak Alaska Fort J.H. Smith, Fort Tidball, Fort Abercrombie 1944-1950
Dutch Harbor Alaska Fort Learnard, Fort Schwatka 1944-1950
Vieques Sound Puerto Rico/Virgin Islands Fort Segarra, Fort Charles W. Bundy 1944-1948 Protected the approaches to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station
San Juan Puerto Rico Fort Amezquita, Fort Mascaro, Fort Brooke 1941-1948

The Harbor Defense Commands established as a result of the 1940 Destroyers for Bases Agreement with the United Kingdom were:[9][10][11]

Name Territory Forts Years active in coast defense Notes
Argentia and St. John's Newfoundland Fort McAndrew, Fort Pepperrell 1941-1946 Only two 8-inch and two 155 mm guns at St. John's
Bermuda Bermuda Bermuda Base Command, Fort Victoria, Scaur Hill Fort 1941-1946
Trinidad Trinidad Fort Read, Chacachacare Island 1941-1946 Only Panama mounts completed

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Kaufmann, J. E. (2007). Fortress America. Da Capo Press. ASIN B00A4JNS2Y. Retrieved 2013-03-07. Harbor Defense Command was the name given after 1925 to the coastal...
  2. ^ Berhow, p. 432
  3. ^ a b Coast Artillery Organization: A Brief Overview at the Coast Defense Study Group website
  4. ^ Berhow, p. 421
  5. ^ Hines, Frank T.; Ward, Franklin W. (1996). The Service of Coast Artillery. CDSG Press. pp. 75–78.
  6. ^ a b Rinaldi, pp. 165-166
  7. ^ Confusingly, circa 1914-1924 several groups of National Guard coast artillery companies were designated as "Coast Defense Commands" (CDC), such as the 8th CDC and 13th CDC in the New York National Guard. National Guard coast artillery regiment histories at the CDSG
  8. ^ Berhow, p. 430
  9. ^ a b Stanton, pp. 477-481
  10. ^ a b c Berhow, pp. 200-231
  11. ^ a b c List of all US coastal forts and batteries at the Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. website
  12. ^ These are arranged in the traditional order of US Army reports, starting in Maine and working clockwise around the US.
  13. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. (entry for Fort Baldwin mentions garrisoned by CD Portland in WWI)
  14. ^ Stanton, p. 479
  15. ^ a b Stanton, p. 480-481
  16. ^ National Archives and Records Administration, RG 392 index

External links[edit]