Historic California Posts, Camps, Stations and Airfields
Harbor Defenses of San Diego
 
 
Harbor Defenses of San Diego
by Mark J. Bernow, Coast Defense Study Group
 
Many of the coastal defense remnants built to protect San Diego are generally inaccessible to the public. A few structures are on land controlled by the Cabrillo National Monument. Arrangements may be made to visit some of the batteries on Navy property by contacting the Navy Public Relations Officer at San Diego. Cabrillo National Monument has a good general information on the subject.
 
Cabrillo Historical Association
P.O. Box 6670
San Diego, CA 92106
 
 
Fort Emory

Naval Receiving Facility, Imperial Beach, California Highway 75 W to 8th St., straight west on Palm St., north on Silver Strand Blvd., to Gate. Access: By permission only.

This area was used for harbor defenses during the war. It was named after Brigadier General William H. Emory in 1942. The area was turned over to the Navy in 1947 which has converted the gun bunkers, Battery 134 and Battery Grant (#239), into a Naval radio receiving station. All gun batteries still exist, though overgrown somewhat. Access to the area is very restricted, though the hills of the two 1940 constructions are readily visible from outside the gates.
 
 
Fort Pio Pico

North Island Naval Air Station: No public access.

The only structures built by the Army at Fort Pio Pico were Battery Meed and a cable terminal box. The post was named after the last Mexican governor of Alta California, Pio Pico. The post was abandoned by the Army in the 1920s and subsequently turned over to the Navy with the rest of the old Army Rockwell Air Field on North Island (est. 1917) in 1935. Subsequent construction has obliterated these structures and even the site itself.
 
 
Fort Rosecrans

Cabrillo National Monument: Visitor's Center, hiking trails
Naval Ocean Systems Center
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery : Rosecrans Blvd. (SH 209) to Cannon Blvd, follow signs (SH 209) to Catalina Blvd., and south to gate. Public Access to National Monument and National Cemetery Access to Naval facilities by permission only.

Naval Submarine Base, San Diego: Entrance gate at the end of Roscrans Blvd. Access to base by permission only.

Point Loma was reserved as a military reservation by the United States in 1852, as it had been part of the public domain under the Mexican government. The small battery built by the Spanish in 1797 at Ballast Point had long since fallen into decay. A battery was constructed at Ballast Point by the Army in 1873, but was never completed. New construction began in 1896 on 4 batteries on Ballast Point with the barracks and associated buildings nearby. The post was named in 1899 after Maj. Gen. William S. Rosecrans, a prominent Civil War veteran. New construction added weapons to the post's arsenal in 1914, 1937, 1941 and 1943. In June of 1959, the Army turned over control of the remainder of the reservations to the Navy .

Today, there are a considerable number of remnants from the Army's tenure at Point Loma, but most are on Navy property and generally off limits to the public. Cabrillo National Monument has some information in their visitor center and a bay-shore trail goes by a number of fire control and searchlight installations. At the bend in the road enroute to the oceanside section of the monument is the site of a 4 gun 155mm emplacement, but only one mount has been uncovered, and there are no interpretive signs. The Navy Submarine Base is the location of a number of old Army buildings, but the rest of the emplacements are generally off limits to all unauthorized personnel. The HECP is visible from the NW corner of the National Cemetery and Battery White (4-12" M) can be seen from the eastern edge of the cemetery. The cemetery is the final resting place of a number of distinguished American Service men, including the men who fell in the Battle of San Pasqual (near present day Escondido) during the Mexican War.
 
Spanish Period

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

 Ballast Point

 Fort Guijarros

 10

 Smoothbores

 1797

 1799

 183?
For all coastal defenses built in the smoothbore era, (Spanish, American Third system and Post-Civil War periods), the number of guns actually emplaced was usually less than the number of emplacements built. Many of the cannons were on hand and not emplaced and those numbers changed from year to year. In addition, there often were several different calibers of cannons present. The calibers of the Spanish era cannons were given by the weight of the round shot fired by the gun, i.e. a 42 pounder. The Americans had cannons of calibers given both in pounds or inches of bore. These are not delineated in the table as those of later years are.
 
 
Post Civil War Period

 Location

 Battery name

Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Constructed

 Completed

 Point Loma

 None

 15

 15 inch Smoothbores

 1870

Not Completed
 
 
Endicott Period
 

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort Rosecrans
Wilkeson

 1

10 Inch M1895

 M1896 Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

Fort Rosecrans

Wilkeson

 1

 10 Inch M1888MI

  M1896 Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

Fort Rosecrans

Calef

2

 10 Inch M1888MI

  M1896MI Disappearing
 

 1900

 1943

Fort Rosecrans

McGrath

 2

 5 Inch M1897

 M1896 Ballanced Pillar
 

1900

 1943 (1)

Fort Rosecrans

 Fetterman

 2

 3 Inch M1898

  M1898 Masking Pedestal
 

 1900

 1943 (2)

Fort Pio Pico

 Meed

 2

 3 Inch M1903

   M1903 Pedestal

 1898

 1906

 1919 (3)
(1) Battery McGrath's guns were removed in 1917. In 1919 the guns of Battery Meed at Fort Pio Pico were transfered to Battery McGrath.
(2) The concrete emplacement of Battery Fetterman was destroyed in July 1940.
(3) Battery Meed was damaged by storm waves in 1914. After Battery Meed's guns were removed in 1919, the post and the rest of North Island was turned over to the Navy in 1935. All trace has been destroyed by the development of the Naval Air Station.
Taft Period

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort Rosecrans
Whistler

 4

12 Inch M1890MI

 M1896MI Mortar

 1914

 1916

 1942

Fort Rosecrans

John White

 4

12 Inch M1890MI

 M1896MI Mortar

 1914

 1916

 1942
Four of these mortars were from Fort DeSoto, Florida, and 4 were from Fort DuPont, Delaware. Battery Whistler is now substantially altered to a underwater testing tank facility. The breeches for a 12-inch and a 16-înch naval gun are also inside.
 
 
World War II Temporary
 

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort Rosecrans
Zeilin

2

7 inch Naval

 Pedestal

 1937

 1937

 1943 (1)

Fort Rosecrans

Gillespie

3

5 inch Naval

 Pedestal

 1937

 1937

 1943 (1)

Fort Rosecrans

 North

4

 155mm

 Panama Mount

 1942

 1942

 1943 (2)

Fort Rosecrans

 Point Loma

4

 155mm

 Panama Mount

 1942

 1942

194? 

Coranado Heights

Imperial

4

155mm

  Panama Mount

1941

1943 

194? (2)
(1) These were temporary constructions, no trace remains at the site.
(2) North Battery guns transfered to Battery Imperial in 1943
.
 
1940 Program
 

 Location

 Battery name

 Number of Guns

 Type of Gun

 Type of Carriage

 Constructed

 Completed

 Decommisioned

Fort Rosecrans
Fredrick S. Strong

2

8 inch MarkVI M3A2

 Long Range Barbette, M1

 1938

 1941

1946

Fort Rosecrans

Thomas Q. Ashburn

2

16 inch MarkIIMI

 Casemated Long Range Barbette M1919M4

 1942

 1943

1948

Fort Rosecrans

237 (1)

2

 6 inch M1903A2

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

 1942

 1943

194?

Fort Rosecrans

Charles Humphreys

4

 6 inch M1903A2

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

 1942

 1943

194? 

Ballast Point

Fetterman

4

90mm M1

  Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

1943
   

Ballast Point

Fetterman

2

 37mm

 Mobile

 1943
   

Point Loma

Cabrillo

4

90mm M1

 Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

 1943
   

Point Loma

Cabrillo

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943
   

Point Loma

 Channel

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943
   

Point Loma

 Bluff

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943
   

Point Loma

 Cliff

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943
   

Fort Emory

Homor B. Grant

2

 6 inch M1905

 Shielded Long Range Barbette M1

 1942

 1943

1946 

Fort Emory

134 (1)

2

16 inch

 Casemated Long Range Barbette

 1943

 Not Completed
 

 Silver Strand

Cortez

4

90mm M1

 Fixed M3 and Mobile M1

 1943
   

 Silver Strand

Cortez

2

 37mm

Mobile

 1943
   
(1) Battery Contructions 237 and 134 were unofficially named Charles G. Woodward and Gatchell respectively.
 
 
Additional Online Histories
 
War History Harbor Defenses of San Diego
The Guns of San Diego
 
 
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Updated 8 February 2016