Mallows Bay


Floating Forests

Nearly a century of natural processes have gradually transformed the wooden steamships in Mallows Bay- Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary, known as the “Ghost Fleet.” The ships were built between 1917-1919 as part of America’s engagement in World War I, but the war ended before the ships could be deployed. Many were scuttled to the Potomac River for scrap, but when the shipbreaking efforts ended, over 100 ships still remained. The aged wood structure has provided a suitable place for vegetation to take root, and the overgrown wrecks now serve as a series of islands, intertidal habitats, and underwater structure for fish, beavers, ospreys, blue herons, and bald eagles.

Floating forests on the potomac river
Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University