Harbor Defenses of Sitka, Alaska

 
 

LOCATION : Shoals Point, Kruzof Island (Fort Babcock)

 

         

 
 

 

6-inch Battery 290
Emergency 6-inch Battery Allen

The first men arrived at Shoals Point in 1942.  About thirty men from Battery A of the 266th Coast Artillery were assigned to construct an emergency battery of two old six-inch guns that the Navy gave to the Army for the defense of Sitka Sound.  The two guns were emplaced on pedestal mounts just above the high tide line and just inside the trees.  The 266th Coast Artillery referred to these guns as Battery Allen in their Christmas Dinner Menu of 1942.  Cpl. Ted Gutches spent much of 1942 and 1943 at Shoals Point and has shared stories, photos and other memorabilia from his visit.

After the Army completed the Basic Project plan for the Harbor Defenses of Sitka, Battery Allen became obsolete as the Army constructed the modern 200 series gun Battery 290, which

  Looking west from Shoals Point

Looking west from Shoals Point - June 18th, 2004

 
 

had two six-inch guns on barbette carriages with a range of 27500 yards.  Battery 290 required base end stations for fire control, searchlights, and one SCR-296 radar set.  Only two support facilities were completed for Battery 290: the base end station on a timber tower at Lava Point and the SCR-296 radar set on St. Lazaria Island.  Both support facilities were considered part of Fort Babcock.  The Battery Control (BC) Station for Battery 290 was located on top the magazine between the guns.  It was the top level of the BC / Coincidence Range Finder (CRF) station.  The concrete work for this station was almost completed.  Only the entrance stairs and floor of the CRF station needed to be built.  Battery 290 was abandoned at 88% completion.  Searchlights No. 7 and No. 8 were constructed at a small point just a mile north of shoals point. 

The Army planned a plank road ten miles west to Sitka Point, West Point, and Hill 800 for planned searchlight positions and base end stations.  Navy Seabees only managed to build 3.5 miles of the road before construction was halted.  The planned installations the road was to access were never constructed. Base End Stations on St. Lazaria Island and at Hill 800 were planned but not built.  Searchlights at West Point and Sitka Point were also planned but not built.

Today, the Army facilities at Shoals Point are very overgrown.  In the last 60 years the undergrowth has reclaimed all of the old roads and clearings.  Only the roof of the magazine and the BC/CRF station for Battery 290 remains clear of trees.  This is because the Army never finished concealing the magazine with backfill.  The Magazine is totally surrounded by extremely dense undergrowth.  The concrete aprons around the guns were not built, so it is a mess to access the gun blocks today.  The magazine contains construction supplies including a crate containing the steel shields for the BC/CRF station windows.  I have only recently located the gun emplacements for Battery Allen.  Trees grow out of both emplacements which are buried by sand and rotten wood.  Gun number one is entirely buried with sand.  I dug about 18 inches to reveal a corner of the steel gun block.  The tops of about ten bolts of the gun number two emplacement are just visible.  From twenty feet away the emplacements are only recognizable as rounded mounds about twenty feet in diameter.  Also located along the beach are two small concrete 20mm Anti-Aircraft gun positions.

 

Photos and additional information:

 

A Veteran's story - Read about Ted Gutches's experience as a Corporal in Battery A of the 266th Coast Artillery at Shoals Point from 1942 to 1943.

 

Cpl. Ted Gutches's photos of Shoals Point from 1942 and 1943

 
  Recent Photos of Battery 290   Recent Photos of Battery Allen  
  Recent Photos of the Quonset Hut Camp   Recent Photos of 20mm AA gun positions, Searchlights No. 7 & 8, and other items of interest  
  Army Documents of Shoals Point      

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