Photo via NOAA/Don Shomette
Ghost Fleet from above(Photo via NOAA/Don Shomette)

In Mallows Bay, the collection of shipwrecks known as Ghost Fleet still sits for all those willing to venture among the sunken vessels. It may sound haunting, but archaeologists think the area of the Potomac River has huge historical value. To preserve the shipwrecks, officials are looking to designate the area with a special status.

Mallows Bay is on its way to becoming a National Marine Sanctuary, which will allow the 14 square-mile area to be protected from historic, environmental and recreational purposes. The area of Charles County is the first in Maryland to be nominated for the designation. NOAA will undertake a formal process to decide whether it gets the nod.

There are remnants of ships from the Revolutionary and Civil Wars there. But, the highlight is Ghost Fleet, which dates to World War I. The ships were built to be used in the war effort, but most never made it to Europe, writes the Nature Conservancy.

Mallows Bay, a bulge in the Potomac across the river from Quantico, Virginia, was pegged as a burial ground. Ships were burned there in a basin engineered for that purpose, then lined up in the bay and abandoned. Makeshift settlements later arose, inhabited by scrap-iron salvage operations ranging from Bethlehem Steel to desperate Depression-era wildcatters.

There is supposedly good fishing in those waters, if you dare.

Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the editor of Baltimore and an editor-at-large of Baltimore Fishbowl.