Battery Seaman

Rye, New Hampshire
Battery Seaman is a massive abandoned World War 2 coastal gun battery in Rye, New Hampshire within present-day Odiorne State Park.
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About This Location

Nestled within the serene landscapes of Odiorne Point State Park in Rye, New Hampshire, Battery Seaman, originally designated as Battery 103, stands as a testament to the nation’s wartime preparedness during World War II. This abandoned reinforced concrete coastal gun battery is a silent witness to history, with its two massive 16-inch Mark II-M1 guns mounted on M5 Casemated Barbette Carriages now sitting idle and slowly being reclaimed by nature.

Creating Fort Dearborn: A Critical Wartime Establishment

The history of Battery Seaman is intertwined with the establishment of Fort Dearborn, a strategically significant World War II fort located in Rockingham County, New Hampshire, specifically in the town of Rye. Fort Dearborn was created in 1942 to bolster the coastal defenses in the region, and it remained operational until 1948.

The land for Fort Dearborn was acquired through two separate condemnation processes, involving private landowners who were given a mere 30 days to vacate their properties. The first acquisition, amounting to 206.08 acres, was officially completed on May 11, 1943, followed by the acquisition of an additional 60 acres on October 11, 1943.

A temporary battery, initially equipped with four 155mm guns on concrete Panama mounts, was constructed at Odiorne’s Point in April 1942. Subsequently, Battery Seaman and Battery 204 were developed to enhance the fort’s capabilities and contribute to the Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth. These defenses were vital for securing the southern entrance to the Piscataqua River, which provided access to Portsmouth Harbor, a location of utmost strategic importance during World War II. This harbor housed the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and other critical areas.

Battery Seaman Establishment: A Formidable Coastal Defense

The construction of Battery Seaman commenced on April 8, 1942, and was finalized in August 1944. Once completed, the battery was transferred to the Coast Artillery and became operational on September 8, 1944. The government’s investment in Battery Seaman amounted to approximately $1.5 million.

The battery was equipped with two formidable 16-inch Mark II-M1 guns, each mounted on M5 Casemated Barbette Carriages. These massive guns, weighing over 300,000 pounds, had a remarkable range, capable of firing 2,000+ pound projectiles over a distance of more than 25 miles (approximately 45,000 yards). To provide protection and security, both guns at Battery Seaman were covered by concrete casemates.

The battery also featured a central magazine located between the two gun emplacements, serving as the storage area for the powder and shells required for the guns. The movement of shells and powder was managed through overhead tracks and chain hoists. In addition to the gun emplacements, the battery had a plotting and fire control switchboard room (PSR) at the top, affording commanding views of the surrounding ocean. This room housed equipment for tracking and identifying potential threats and for providing gun coordinates if required.

Disarmament and Abandonment: A Changing Era

After World War II, the landscape of military technology underwent a transformation. The development of new technologies, such as aircraft carriers, guided missiles, and nuclear weapons, rendered many coastal gun batteries, including Battery Seaman, obsolete. The cost of maintaining these facilities and their outdated equipment was deemed too high to justify, leading to the abandonment and dismantling of numerous coastal defenses.

In the case of Battery Seaman, it was officially abandoned in 1948, following the removal of its guns and mounts. Despite its decommissioning, Battery Seaman stands as a silent sentinel of its era, bearing witness to the critical role that coastal defenses played during World War II and the sacrifices made by those who served in these facilities to protect their nation.

Visiting Battery Seaman Today: A Glimpse into History

In the years that followed World War II, some of the structures of Fort Dearborn were demolished, while others remained. The remaining coastal gun batteries and bunkers, though sealed at their entryways, remain as historical relics within the grounds of the present-day Odiorne Point State Park.

Odiorne Point State Park offers a range of amenities, including a playground, a marine science center, restrooms, a beach, and, of course, well-preserved military structures. The cost of parking within the park is $4, providing access to this remarkable historical site.

Visitors to Battery Seaman can embark on a half-mile walk from the main parking lot within Odiorne Point State Park. While the primary doorways into the interior of Battery Seaman remain sealed by massive boulders, visitors can explore the two main tunnelways within the battery. The Plotting and Fire Control Switchboard Room (PSR) atop the battery is open to visitors, offering a unique opportunity to step back in time and gain insights into the coastal defense history of the United States.

Battery Seaman, located within the tranquility of Odiorne Point State Park, remains an important historical site that preserves the legacy of its wartime service and the enduring significance of coastal defense during World War II.


Address: Ocean Boulevard (NH-1A), Rye, New Hampshire
Place GPS Coordinates: 43.050306, -70.721028
Parking GPS Coordinates: 43.050306, -70.721028
Parking Notes: There are two main parking areas for visitors of Odiorne Point State Park. The western parking area is located at the Odiorne Point Boat Launch and it is closest to Battery Seaman. There is also the primary Odiorne Point State Park parking lot located about a half-mile to the east of Battery Seaman. There is a $4 parking fee collected per vehicle for parking.

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