From 1890 to 1905, the United States undertook a massive program to modernize its coastal defenses. Gun emplacements were constructed within new military reservations that were eventually named Forts Armstrong, Kamehameha, DeRussy and Ruger. Established in 1909, Fort Kamehameha played an important role within a system of coastal defenses of the Army Coast Artillery Corps that served as a key component of the national defense of the United States in the early 20th century.
Between 1911 and 1914 the Army Corps of Engineers built four batteries at Fort Kamehameha (Selfridge, Hasbrouck, Hawkins, and Jackson), adding a fifth one (Battery Closson) in 1920. These batteries were key sections of Oahu’s “ring of steel,” which included Forts Armstrong, DeRussy and Ruger, along with Ford Island Military Reservation. In addition to the armaments, Fort Kamehameha historic area encompasses a flagpole, chapel and 33 homes. The homes were built in 1916, before any airfield in the area; Luke Field on Ford Island started in 1919; Honolulu International Airport (HNL) opened in March 1927 as John Rodgers Airport and Hickam Field started in 1934.