Harbor Defenses of Sitka, Alaska




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Below is an excerpt from the Supplement to The Harbor Defense Project Harbor Defenses of Sitka, 1944:

The mission of the Harbor Defense is to deny enemy naval vessels access to Sitka Harbor and entrances thereto to the distance of 25,000 yards from the Naval Air Station and destruction of such hostile vessels as may enter these waters and to assist in the local protection of all military, naval, and other vital installations in the vicinity of Sitka against all forms of enemy attack during day or night.”

The Army constructed many gun batteries in the Sitka area to accomplish the Mission of the Harbor Defenses of Sitka.  Construction of the NAS Sitka and early Army positions was completed by civilian contractors from Seims Drake and Puget Sound.  Navy Seabees arrived in 1942 when the contractor consistently failed to fulfill its obligations.

  A 155mm gun and gun # 2 of Battery 292 on Makhnati Island

A wartime photograph of a 155mm GPF gun and the six-inch gun # 2 of Battery 292 on Makhnati Island - Photo is No. 7330 from the Johnson collection at the Isabel Miller Museum


eginning in late 1940, the Army moved quickly to emplace some guns in Sitka.  Two “emergency” batteries were rushed into position by 1942. The Army constructed a six-inch gun battery at Shoals Point, the southeastern tip of Kruzof Island.  This battery consisted of two six-inch guns from old Navy battleships.  The guns were emplaced in late 1942 and manned by the 266th Coast Artillery.  These guns were referred to as Battery Allen at least at the beginning of the war.   The other emergency battery was a 155mm gun battery on Makhnati Island, which was connected later to Japonski Island via a causeway through seven smaller islands.  This battery originally consisted of 4 GPF guns on “Panama Mounts.” It was operational in 1942, though two emplacements were later destroyed when a more modern 6-inch battery was built.  In addition to these two emergency batteries, the army also emplaced four 3-inch anti aircraft guns on Sasedni Island, the middle island of the causeway to Makhnati Island.

The Basic Project Plan for the Harbor Defenses of Sitka was completed June 9, 1942.  The plan called for three modern 200 series six-inch gun batteries consisting of two 50 caliber guns on barbette mounts.  The guns had a range of 27500 yards and could be fired at up to 4 rounds a minute.  The three six-inch batteries were Battery 290 at Shoals Point, Battery 291 on Biorka Island, and Battery 292 on Makhnati Island at the end of the causeway.  The six inch batteries required an intricate network searchlight positions, base end stations (for targeting the guns), radar positions, and various command facilities that spanned Sitka Sound.  Construction of Batteries 290 and 291 and their support facilities was halted in early 1944 when the success of the Pacific war caused the Army to reduce the construction in Sitka.  Battery 292 was fully complete by the end of 1944. 

The Basic Project Plan also called for two 90mm Anti Motor Torpedo Boat (AMTB) batteries, one at Watson Point on Baranof Island (where the 7th Day Adventist church is today)  and the other on Whale Island.  The 90mm guns had a range of about 5 miles and served a dual purpose as both anti-aircraft and anti-ship guns. 


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