Fort Kamehameha (1907-1949) - A U.S. Army Taft Period Coastal Fort first established as Fort Upton in 1907 on Queen Emma Point, Oahu Island, Honolulu County, Hawaii. First named Fort Upton in G.O. 15, 1909, after General Emory Upton, U.S. Civil War General. Renamed Fort Kamehameha in G.O. 245, 1909, after Kamehameha, first king of unified Hawaii. Abandoned as a fortification in 1949. Also known as Fort Kamehameha Military Reservation
Taft Period (1906-1915)
Part of the Harbor Defense of Pearl Harbor.
The 1 Feb 1906 report of the Taft coastal defenses board recommended that Hawaii, specifically Honolulu and Pearl Harbor, be protected by coastal artillery batteries. The list of recommended armament included sixteen 12" mortars, six 12" guns and four 6" guns. Initially, four forts were established to provide the gun batteries, Fort Kamehameha, Fort Ruger, Fort De Russy and Fort Armstrong. Fort Kamehameha was the recipient of the largest number of the the recommended mortars and guns.
The initial construction of the gun batteries began with the 12" Battery Selfridge in 1907 followed by the 12" mortar Battery Hasbrouck in 1909 and the two smaller batteries, 6" Battery Jackson and the 3" Battery Hawkins in 1912. The batteries were completed and transferred to the Coast Artillery in 1913 and 1914.
Post construction lagged behind and the first set of nine barracks was not completed until 1916. These barracks were not the standard brick company barracks on the mainland but were adapted to the climate in Hawaii as unheated single story frame buildings each surrounding a central courtyard. Each barracks had a capacity of 104 men (one company) and included a kitchen, dining hall, two squad rooms, a sergeants room and a recreation room as well as a supply room and office.
The barracks can be seen in the arial picture above on either side of the central road in the middle of the picture. The 1916 barracks are at the top while the largest barracks building at the center of the picture is a 168 man barracks built in 1921.
Married officer quarters were built along Worchester road north of the barracks. Twenty three sets of company grade officer housing were built in 1916-1917. Four sets of field grade housing were built in 1916 one of which was the commanding officer's quarters.
Eighteen sets of married NCO quarters were built in 1916. Additional units built in the 20s and 30s brought the total of married NCO quarters to 26 units by 1940.
World War I (1917-1918)
The prospect of war spurred the addition of two smaller batteries at Bishops Point to protect the entrance channel to Pearl Harbor and a large 12" battery at Ahua Point for longer range targets. The two batteries at Bishops Point were actually in the same physical structure but with two different caliber sets of guns, a set of 3" guns in Battery Chandler and a set of 4.7" guns in Battery Barri. The 12" Battery Closson was a new breed of 12" battery that featured an open barbette carriage that elevated to 35 degrees for longer range and traversed 360 degrees for full coverage. Unfortunately the battery was not casemated when built and suseptible to air attack and sea bombardment. It was later casemated during World War II.
In 1921 two battalions of the 55th U.S. Artillery reported to Fort Kamehameha with 24 155mm GPF guns. These guns were on mobile carriages and were meant to supplement the fixed batteries. By October 1925 the 55th on Fort Kamehameha had been reorganized into 3 batteries of 4 guns each. The guns themselves were parked on the Beach between Batteries Selfridge and Jackson in what was known as the Fort Kamehameha Gun Park. The gun park can be seen on the far left of the 1932 aerial photograph above. By 1932 four permanent assigned emplacements called Panama mounts were installed across the channel from the fort. By 1937 two additional sets of four Panama mounts each had been built, four at Oneula Beach and four at Barber's Point. The plan was to deploy the 155mm mobile guns to these fixed positions in the event of an attack. Battery Hawkins, Battery Jackson, Battery Selfridge and Battery Hasbrouck were inactivated and placed on caretaker status in 1924.
World War II (1941-1945)
Now located on Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Honolulu County, Hawaii. Many of the coastal gun batteries remain as repurposed structures.