A shipwreck at Mallows Bay, February 2011
|Location||Charles County, Maryland|
|Surface elevation||0 feet (0 m)|
Mallows Bay is a small bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River in Charles County, Maryland. The bay is the location of what is regarded as the "largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere" and is described as a "ship graveyard."
Charles County operates Mallows Bay Park (1440 Wilson Landing Road in Nanjemoy, Maryland). This small park contains the graves of more than 230 United States Shipping Board Merchant Fleet Corporation ships sunk in the river. Almost ninety were poorly constructed steamships built during World War I; in 1925 they were burned and scuttled in the bay. Bethlehem Steel then built a salvage basin during World War II to recover metal from the abandoned ships. The ships form a reef that hosts an array of wildlife. A 0.8-mile trail loops around Mallows Bay Park and the salvage basin.
Mallows Bay has passed the nomination process to become a National Marine Sanctuary and will be entering the next phase of designation involving a highly participatory and transparent public review process.
The "Ghost Fleet" of Mallows Bay is a reference to the hundreds of ships whose remains still rest in the relatively shallow waters of Mallows Bay.
Mallows Bay contains the largest collection of wrecks in the Western Hemisphere. More than 100 of the vessels are wooden steamships, part of a fleet built to cross the Atlantic during World War I. However, most of these ships were obsolete upon completion after the end of the war.
The ships were stored in the James River until they were sold to the Western Marine & Salvage Company. The company moved the ships to the Potomac River at Widewater, Virginia and in 1925, they were towed to Mallows Bay. Western Marine went bankrupt and the ships remained where they lay.
The bay was listed as an archaeological and historic district on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Mallows Bay
- Shomette, Donald G. (Winter 2001). "The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay". The Maryland Natural Resource. Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- Shomette, Donald G. (Winter 1999). "The Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay". Invention & Technology Magazine. 14 (3). Retrieved December 19, 2010.
- United States Coast Pilot. 3 (43rd ed.). Washington, D.C.: National Ocean Service. 2010. p. 313. Retrieved May 5, 2010.
- Peck, Garrett (2012). The Potomac River: A History and Guide. Charleston, SC: The History Press. p. 145. ISBN 978-1609496005.
- "New Boat Ramp in Mallows Bay". Southern Maryland Living. May 12, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- "Mallows Bay" (PDF). Maryland Department of Natural Resources. July 19, 2010. Retrieved December 22, 2010.
- Lutz, Lara (10 September 2014). "Ghost fleet may go from wrecks to recreation". Bay Journal. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- NOAA Nautical Chart 12288 - Potomac River
- "Mallows Bay". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
- Aerial imagery of Mallows Bay from The National Map
- Mallows Bay Ghost Fleet along the Potomac River - from fossilguy
- Mallows Bay-Widewater Historic and Archeological District, at Maryland Historical Trust