Battery O’Rorke, Ft. Barry


Battery O'Rorke, Ft. Barry

A KAP view of Battery O’Rorke with Rodeo Beach and Ft. Cronkhite in the background, August 2012.

In retrospect, it seems the useful life of any particular coastal battery, at least as state-of-the-art defense, was quite limited. Those designing a defense strategy faced regular advances in the offensive capacities of potential naval opponents. The prospect of the latest generation of naval armament laying offshore and lobbing shells from outside the range of dated coastal defenses served as impetus for new defensive batteries with greater and greater range.

As the guns of San Francisco’s coastal defenses grew larger, so did the complexities of manufacturing, transporting, storing, and loading ordnance. The sixteen-inch guns of WW II fired projectiles weighing over a ton, and did so rarely due to the mechanical stress, and one imagines expense, of firing.

Battery Smith-Guthrie

Battery O’Rorke in 1908 from the GGNRA WWW site (—Batteries.htm).

Battery O’Rorke lies toward the other end of the scale. Completed around 1905 it was among the last of the Endicott batteries. It was armed in 1910 with four three-inch “15-pounders” on pedestal mounts. These guns could fire rapidly since the gun crew could handle the shells, which weighed about 30 pounds, by hand. The battery couldn’t do much about a dreadnought 20 miles out but it could cover the close reaches of the North Channel approach to the Golden Gate and serve as deterrent to lighter vessels such as minesweepers.

Ease of firing these lighter rounds made Battery O’Rorke popular for use in training with one account describing it as the most fired coastal battery in the United States. It remained in service through WW II making it among the most long lived of the coastal defense works.

Here is a set of images from the session that I have posted to Flickr:




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