Harbor Defense Command

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, controlled underwater minefields, and other coastal defenses of a particular harbor or river. Harbor Defense Commands, along with the similar Coast Artillery Corps, were disestablished in 1950.


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] Mine planter vessels were also attached to these commands to plant and maintain controlled minefields. 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

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 KennebecMaineFort Baldwin, Fort Popham1899-1924Probably merged with Coast Defenses of Portland prior to 1917 (not listed in Rinaldi WWI),[13] rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
PortlandMaineFort McKinley, Fort Lyon, Fort Levett, Fort Preble, Fort Williams, Peaks Island Military Reservation1898-1948
PortsmouthNew Hampshire, MaineFort Foster, Fort Constitution, Fort Stark, Fort Dearborn1898-1948
BostonMassachusettsFort Ruckman, Fort Banks, Fort Heath, Fort Dawes, Fort Warren, Fort Standish, Fort Strong, Fort Andrews, Fort Duvall, Fort Revere, East Point Military Reservation1896-1948
New BedfordMassachusettsFort Rodman1899-1946
Narragansett BayRhode IslandFort Adams, Fort Church, Fort Wetherill, Fort Getty, Fort Burnside, Fort Greble, Fort Kearny, Fort Varnum, Fort Greene1898-1947
Long Island SoundNew York, Rhode IslandFort Mansfield, Fort H. G. Wright, Fort Michie, Fort Terry, Fort Tyler, Camp Hero1900-1948
Eastern New YorkNew YorkFort Slocum, Fort Schuyler, Fort Totten1897-1935Anti-aircraft training center in World War II[14]
Southern New YorkNew York, New JerseyFort Tilden, Fort Hamilton, Fort Wadsworth, Fort Hancock, Sandy Hook Proving Ground, Highlands Military Reservation1890-1948Also 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 HookNew JerseyFort Hancock, Sandy Hook Proving Ground, Highlands Military Reservation1915?-1942Probably 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 DelawareDelaware, New Jersey, PhiladelphiaFort Mott, Fort Delaware, Fort DuPont, Fort Saulsbury, Fort Miles, Cape May Military Reservation1899-1948
BaltimoreMarylandFort Howard, Fort Carroll, Fort Armistead, Fort Smallwood1899-1927
The PotomacMaryland, VirginiaFort Washington, Fort Hunt1898-1929
Chesapeake BayVirginiaFort Monroe, Fort Wool, Fort John Custis, Fort Story1897-1948
BeaufortNorth CarolinaFort Macon1941-1945Temporary in World War II with 155 mm GPF guns
The Cape FearNorth CarolinaFort Caswell1899-1925
WilmingtonNorth CarolinaKure Beach Military Reservation1940-1945Temporary in World War II with Panama mounts
CharlestonSouth CarolinaFort Moultrie, Fort Sumter1898-1947
Port Royal SoundSouth CarolinaFort Fremont1897-1914
SavannahGeorgiaFort Screven, Fort Pulaski1898-1928rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
Key WestFloridaFort Taylor1900-1946
Tampa BayFloridaFort Dade, Fort DeSoto1899-1926rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
PensacolaFloridaFort Pickens, Fort McRee1898-1947
MobileAlabamaFort Morgan, Fort Gaines1898-1928rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II
The MississippiLouisianaFort St. Philip, Fort Jackson1898-1920rearmed with Panama mounts in World War II as Temporary Harbor Defenses of New Orleans
GalvestonTexasFort Travis, Fort San Jacinto, Fort Crockett1898-1946
San DiegoCaliforniaFort Rosecrans, Fort Emory1900-1946
Los AngelesCaliforniaFort MacArthur, White Point Military Reservation, Bolsa Chica Military Reservation1917-1948
San FranciscoCaliforniaFort Funston, Fort Miley, Presidio of San Francisco, Fort Winfield Scott, Fort McDowell, Fort Baker, Fort Barry, Fort Cronkhite1894-1948
The ColumbiaOregon, WashingtonFort Stevens, Fort Columbia, Fort Canby1898-1947
Puget SoundWashingtonFort Ward, Fort Whitman, Fort Flagler, Fort Casey, Fort Worden, Fort Ebey1899-1943
Cape FlatteryWashingtonCamp Hayden, Cape Flattery Military Reservation1942-1948

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

Name Territory Forts Years active in coast defense Notes
HonoluluHawaiiFort Ruger, Fort DeRussy, Fort Armstrong1910-1946Coast Defenses of Oahu divided into Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in March 1921
Pearl HarborHawaiiFort Barrette, Fort Weaver, Fort Kamehameha1914-1948Coast Defenses of Oahu divided into Honolulu and Pearl Harbor in March 1921
Kaneohe Bay and the North ShoreHawaiiFort Hase1940-1946
Manila and Subic BaysPhilippinesFort Mills, Fort Drum, Fort Frank, Fort Hughes, Fort Wint1910-1942
CristobalPanama Canal ZoneFort Randolph, Fort De Lesseps, Fort Sherman1912-1948Atlantic side
BalboaPanama Canal ZoneFort Kobbe, Fort Amador, Fort Grant1912-1948Pacific side
SitkaAlaskaFort Babcock, Fort Peirce, Fort Rousseau1944-1950
SewardAlaskaFort McGilvray, Fort Bulkley1941-1945Only Panama mounts completed
KodiakAlaskaFort J.H. Smith, Fort Tidball, Fort Abercrombie1944-1950
Dutch HarborAlaskaFort Learnard, Fort Schwatka1944-1950
Vieques SoundPuerto Rico/Virgin IslandsFort Segarra, Fort Charles W. Bundy1944-1948Protected the approaches to Roosevelt Roads Naval Station
San JuanPuerto RicoFort Amezquita, Fort Mascaro, Fort Brooke1941-1948

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'sNewfoundlandFort McAndrew, Fort Pepperrell1941-1946Only two 8-inch and two 155 mm guns at St. John's
BermudaBermudaFort Victoria, Scaur Hill Fort, Tudor Hill1941-1946
TrinidadTrinidadFort Read, Chacachacare Island1941-1946Only Panama mounts completed

See also


  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. 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. 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. Stanton, pp. 477-481
  10. Berhow, pp. 200-231
  11. 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 Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010. (entry for Fort Baldwin mentions garrisoned by CD Portland in WWI)
  14. Stanton, p. 479
  15. Stanton, p. 480-481
  16. National Archives and Records Administration, RG 392 index
  • Berhow, Mark A., Ed. (2015). American Seacoast Defenses, A Reference Guide, Third Edition. McLean, Virginia: CDSG Press. ISBN 978-0-9748167-3-9.
  • Conn, Stetson; Engelman, Rose C.; Fairchild, Byron (2000) [1964]. Guarding the United States and Its Outposts. United States Army Center of Military History. ISBN 978-14102019-2-8.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  • Lewis, Emanuel Raymond (1979). Seacoast Fortifications of the United States. Annapolis: Leeward Publications. ISBN 978-0-929521-11-4.
  • Rinaldi, Richard A. (2004). The U. S. Army in World War I: Orders of Battle. General Data LLC. ISBN 0-9720296-4-8.
  • Stanton, Shelby L. (1991). World War II Order of Battle. Galahad Books. pp. 477–481. ISBN 0-88365-775-9.
  • A Short History of US fort construction at the Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. website
  • List of all US coastal forts and batteries at the Coast Defense Study Group, Inc. website
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