Defending an Island

Battery Randolph’s gun deck

Defending an Island

In 1906 the Taft Board recommended a system of Coast Artillery batteries to protect strategic Pearl Harbor and Honolulu. The original plan called for six 12-inch rifles, four 6-inch rapid fire rifles, and sixteen 12-inch mortars.

Construction began in 1909 at the principal locations. The original plan was modified by adding two 3-inch rapid fire batteries, and most important, substituting two 14-inch rifles for the Fort DeRussy 12-inch rifles.

Fixed batteries were supplemented by harbor mines and mobile guns, providing a ring of steel at both long and close range to repel any potential invader. Infantry, cavalry, and field artillery units supported the batteries. By the eve of World War I, the system was essentially complete.

Because of Hawai’i’s strategic importance, Coast Artillery units and installations here were among the strongest such forces the U.S. Army had stationed anywhere. Fort DeRussy’s batteries, Battery Randolph and Battery Dudley, represented state-of-the-art Coast Artillery architecture when they were constructed in 1911. The purpose of Coast Artillery was to defeat armored warships. Until the development of airpower, Coast Artillery was the first line of defense against enemy invasion.

In 1970 Battery Dudley fell to the wrecker’s ball but Battery Randolph survived the attempted demolition to become the U.S. Army Museum of Hawai’i.