The Ghost Fleet at Mallows Bay

The boat launch – Mallows Bay, Maryland

There is a hidden fleet of century-old ships on the Potomac River in Maryland – a fleet so vast that it’s hard to visualize. And yet this fleet of ships can’t really be seen at all… because it’s entirely underwater. This is the infamous Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay, where some 230 vessels – widely regarded as the “largest shipwreck fleet in the Western Hemisphere” – were towed, burned, and sunk after Word War I. You can read more online about Mallows Bay via Google here, and see dozens of videos about it on YouTube here.

We visited Mallows Bay with our kayaks back when information about it was difficult to find, and the resulting video that Cindy created is one of her most popular, with over 138K views.

The only shipwreck still largely above the water is the remains of the SS Accomac, a Chesapeake Bay car ferry dating back to 1928, which was towed here and left to rot sometime after 1964.

The wreck of the SS Accomac car ferry – Mallows Bay, Maryland

However, virtually all of the other wrecks here are completely covered and hidden at high tide, which poses a severe danger to any boat that ventures close enough. Why? Because the last remaining timbers and metal bolts from the burned wooden ships are literally inches under the surface of the water, just waiting for the unsuspecting. You can see some of these in photo below.

Danger lurks just under the surface – Mallows Bay, Maryland

There are still a few of the deteriorating wooden hulls that can be seen and approached, but given they are in such a terrible state of rot, they should not be climbed upon.

One of the wrecked hulls – Mallows Bay, Maryland

Below is a photo of one of the keels of the wooden ships, and the many metal bolts that are covered at high tide. The bolts can – and will – rip the bottom out of any watercraft that ventures through them at speed when they are covered with water.

Size reference – Mallows Bay, Maryland

Once we finished our tour and headed for the shore, Cindy discovered a huge moth drowning in the water, which she rescued. Once the moth had dried out, we placed it in a bush along the shoreline.

Cindy with the moth that she rescued – Mallows Bay, Maryland
Cecropia moth (Hyalophora cecropia) – Mallows Bay, Maryland

All-in-all, Mallows Bay is a wonderful place to crawl through and slowly explore with a canoe or kayak. Highly recommended.


Photo info:
All photos taken with an Apple iPhone 5S
Video taken with a Sony waterproof digicam

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