Fort Drum (El Fraile Island), also known as the “concrete battleship,” is a heavily fortified island fortress situated at the mouth of Manila Bay in the Philippines, due south of Corregidor Island.
Originally a barren rock island, it was leveled by U.S. Army engineers between 1910 and 1914 and then built up with thick layers of steel-reinforced concrete into a massive structure roughly resembling a concrete ship. The fort was topped with a pair of armored steel gun turrets
, each mounting two 14 inch guns. Searchlights, anti-aircraft batteries, and a fire direction tower were also mounted on its upper surface. The 25- to 36-foot thick fortress walls protected extensive ammunition magazines, machine spaces, and living quarters for the 200-man garrison.
World War II
After the outbreak of war in the Pacific on December 7
Fort Drum withstood heavy Japanese air and land bombardment as it supported U.S. and Filipino defenders on Bataan
and Corregidor. Fort Drum surrendered to Japanese forces following the fall of Corregidor Island on May 6
and was subsequently occupied by Japanese forces. The ruins of Fort Drum, including its disabled turrets and 14 inch guns, remain at the mouth of Manila Bay.
El Fraile in literature
Neal Stephenson's 1999 novel, Cryptonomicon
, includes a completely fictional account of the fortress' 1945 recapture by the U.S. Navy. The novel incorrectly identifies the Spanish
as the island's original fort-builders.
- McGovern, Terrance C. and Mark A Berhow American Defenses of Corregidor and Manila Bay 1898-1945. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 1-84176-427-2