The Concrete Battleship

The Concrete Battleship Fort Drum, or more commonly known as the Concrete Battleship, is actually a highly fortified island in the shape of a battleship.

El Fraile Island before the construction of Fort Drum, c. 1909

It was built by the United States Army after their victory in the Philippines following the Spanish-American War as a means of protecting the bay of Manila which served as a valuable shipping port. The heavily fortified island is situated at the mouth of Manila Bay in the Philippines, due south of Corregidor Island.

Furthermore, Fort Drum was built over the course of five years starting in 1909 using steel-reinforced concrete sometimes as thick as 36 feet.

Longitudinal section

Moreover, it was equipped with massive armored turrets in the event of a naval attack. The US Navy wanted it in the shape of a battleship.

14-inch guns and turret undergoing testing at Sandy Hook Proving Ground before installation at Fort Drum

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“The fort’s 20-foot-thick upper deck mounted four 14-inch M1909 coastal artillery rifles in two armored turrets. Each gun could lob a one-ton shell more than five miles.

Four more six-inch guns sprouted from armored casements on either side of the fort. Several mobile anti-aircraft guns completed the island’s armament.”

The Concrete Battleship saw the most action during World War II when it came under attack from the Japanese Navy. Beginning in February of 1942 Fort Drum endured an onslaught of attacks from the Japanese forces.

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The bombing persisted until May of 1942 when the American forces surrendered.

Despite the attacks. The Americans did not lose any lives. In addition, the fort was still standing due to its incredible defenses.

Fort Drum. Temporary wooden barracks on the fort’s deck are visible near the fire control tower.

Americans would recapture Fort Drum in 1945 and actually had to set fire to the base to clear out the Japanese forces and it was still relatively unscathed.

Fort Drum in 1983, with USS New Jersey (BB-62) in the background

The current ruins of Fort Drum, which include disabled turrets and 14-inch (356 mm) guns, still remain at the mouth of Manila Bay. Abandoned since the end of World War II. However, looters took out much of the metal when the US Navy personnel abandoned the site.