Fort Conde, Guantanamo Bay

Located around the western part of Guantanamo Bay lies Fort Conde. Neglected through the years, as nature took over covering the entire structure. While the fort itself  awaits its time to shine.

So today we decided to go visit Fort Conde, it was mentioned weeks ago that people on the base can visit this secluded place. There isn’t a lot of things to do in the island but the fact that very few know this place is interesting. There are several myths or rumors of what Fort Conde is, others says its a Spanish fort built by the Spaniards while others says only remnants of the fort remains. Well me and my friends decided to find out for ourselves.

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On the way

First you will need to register at the MWR  Marina behind the NGIS, a small road going downwards. If there are only 4 or less in your party you only need to register a few days before the trip. The trip to fort is every Sunday and its from 09:00am to 12:00pm. Maximum capacity is 8 people and for my group there were 8 of us so I have to register a week in advance to get all the slots. Cost per person is $10.00 and they have suggestions of what you should bring such as sunscreen, bug spray, water, snacks, towel, sunglasses, water shoes, and swimming clothes.

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Going ashore

You will all go to the MWR Marina at the appointed time where a tour guide and a boat driver will be waiting. It will take approximately 5 to 10 minutes to cross the bay to reach your destination. The boat will stop about 20 feet from the shore and the passengers will have to jump off.

That is why its advisable to wear bathing suits or shorts. The tour guide will set up a tent at the beach and there we will put our belongings that we don’t need for the tour. Then he will describe what the fort is and its history.

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Aerial view of Fort Conde during the 1980s. All those roads leading to the fort are now covered with grasses. Photo courtesy of American Forts Network.

According to the background information about the fort, in 1903 the United States and Cuba signed a treaty giving the lease of Guantanamo bay to the U.S. for “coaling and naval stations,” while the Army will defend the new base through coastal defense.

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Fort Conde with the grafitti

“In 1906, an Army contingent made up primarily of engineers arrived at the base. They were assigned to build two forts. Fort McCalla was to be build at the Cuzco Hill Reservation on the eastern part of the bay while For Conde will be build in Conde Bluff Reservation west of the Hicacal.

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First view of the fort. Our tour guide

Fort Conde was built in 1907, consisting of a battery for four 6-inch DC (disappearing carriages) guns. These guns were kept in the United States and never mounted. They were eventually given to the Marine Corps during World War I.

Two fire control stations for the guns were built, a power plan, and a trestle from the gun battery down to the storehouse and wharf.

Neither fort was not ever manned for defense purposes nor was abandoned after a few years. The Army left in 1908 due to lack of funds and the mission of defending Guantanamo Bay was assumed by the Navy and Marines.

A Marine Defense Battalion sent to Guantanamo Bay in February 1941, place two 6-inch naval guns on new gunblocks at Fort Conde.”

That sums up the history of the fort and even though the fort didn’t really see any real action its still good to know how it got there and it even exists. Also, being neglected the fort is full of graffiti and inside its vaulted rooms are hives of mosquitoes so be very careful and have your bug spray in hand.

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View from the top of the fort with the Marine tower in the distance

Going out the fort is also a different path from going in. Going in is mostly uphill and dense area while the going out is downhill and you will see a beautiful view of the the bay and the beach.

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Group pic

The tour itself is approximately 30 minutes and after that you are free to roam the fort or go down and to the beach. There is basically no one in the part of that island except you and your group. We went snorkeling for an hour and a half and unfortunately that day the water is kind of murky. We found mostly shells but no sea creatures to take pictures of. Around 11:30 the tour guide will be calling to pack up and by 11:45 we are on our way back to MWR Marina.

 

 

 

 

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Say Cheez!

 

 

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