If you visit the Manila Bay, you will find that at the mouth of it just off the Philippines’ coast lies a gigantic battleship-shaped concrete structure that is immovable. What many of you know don’t know is that this was built during the early twentieth century for the sake of defending Manila and is known as Fort Drum.
Fort Drum is also known as ‘concrete battleship’ and is quite heavily fortified. Fort Drum is built on El Fraile – a former barren rocky island that was leveled during 1909 and 1914 by the US Army. Once it was leveled, it was built up with thick layers of concrete reinforced with steel into a gigantic fortress that was named Fort Drum. The fortress is about 350 feet long, 144 feet wide, and has a height of 40 feet above the water.
It was after the Spanish-American War in 1898 that the Board of Fortifications came to the conclusion that the US had to come up with improved fortifications of its overseas territory particularly the harbors. Among the key areas that the Board of Fortification focused on was Manila Bay in the Philippines. The original plan was to build the fort as a control center for the mining network that spread across the Bay. However, the defenses were inadequate, and it was decided that the island be leveled to construct a humongous fortification; Fort Drum.
A pair of armored steel gun turrets that housed two 14 inch guns were installed on top of Fort Drum. It also features searchlights, fire detection tower, and anti-aircraft batters on its top surface. The structure was given armor by the fortress walls that were about 25 to 36 feet thick. The fort had extensive ammunition magazines, machine spaces, and also featured living quarters for the 200 men garrison.
Following the outbreak of war in the Pacific on December 7, 1941, Fort Drum was the subject of extensive Japanese land and air bombardment. It surrendered to Japanese forces once the Corregidor Island fell on May 6, 1942. It was then assaulted by the US Forces on April 1945, and after an extensive naval and aerial bombardment, the US troops were able to gain access to the deck of the fort.
The US forces didn’t attempt to break into the fort and rather pumped fuel into the air vents and ignited it. The fort burned for several days, and once the soldiers were able to enter the fort, it was discovered that a total of 65 Japanese soldiers had been burned alive. The ruined hulk of Fort Drum along with its disabled turrets and 14-inch guns is still present at the Manila Bay.