State ID: 18CH492
Vessel Type: Ferry Boat
Location: 38°28'7.58"N, 77°16'11.29"W (38.46877, -77.26980) (Duke University, 2016)
Length: 291.1 feet
Breadth: 50.1 feet
Depth: 16.5 feet
Gross Tonnage: Not determined
Builder: Built as the Virginia Lee at Quincy, Massachusetts, 1928
Owner: Titled to the State of Maryland under the Abandoned Shipwreck Act
Former Names: Virginia Lee (1928 - 1949), Holiday (1949 - 1951)
Flora & Fauna: Seasonally, vegetation covers the stern of the vessel in certain areas. Aquatic organisms and vegetation have been identified in the flooded hold of the ship. Reported since 1986, an osprey nest has been identified in different areas of the ship. As of spring 2022, there were two osprey nests on Accomac, with one located at the starboard bow, facing toward land, and the other at the starboard stern section, facing out toward the river.
Significance: The vessel was converted and operated as a cargo vessel during World War II but spent the majority of its career as a ferry for the Wilson Line in Virginia.
The Accomac is the only steel-hulled vessel in the Mallows Bay – Widewater area. The vessel is resting on its keel in a southwest to northwest orientation with its bow facing northeast, towards the shore. The hull, from the keel to the car deck, forward of midships, appears intact but is an extremely fragile shell, with the area aft of amidships cut down and missing. The superstructure, from the car deck and above, is also missing. Located at the bow there is evidence of mechanical equipment on the car deck still in place, as well as engine structure below deck, with remains of wooden decking, bulkheading, and electronic circuit boards. At the stern, the rudder post stands adjacent to a large pile of stone or concrete laid down in the stern to hold the hull in place. Of note, on the starboard bow, an osprey nest has been in place from at least 1986 and is still occupied.
From 1928 to 1942, Virginia Lee operated for the Virginia Ferry Corporation for the New York, Philadelphia and Norfolk Railroad, a subsidiary of the Pennsylvania Railroad. It served the lower bay between Cape Charles, Old Point Comfort, and Norfolk, Virginia, as its regular route. In 1942, Virginia Lee was requisitioned for service by the United States government for World War II. It was loaned to the British Ministry of Transport with the vessel operating convoy duty between Halifax, Nova Scotia and Great Britain. However, it was returned to New York for refitting due to freezing pipes and mechanical difficulties. It was used for the India rubber trade for the government, running between the United States and Brazil for the remainder of the war.
After the war, the vessel's steam engines were removed and diesel engines were installed. It was refitted for service for the Boston Provincetown Steamship Line, and was renamed Holiday. Holiday entered service in 1949 and operated as a ferry running between Boston, Plymouth, and Provincetown, Massachusetts. Holiday only operated here shortly as it was then sold south. During the winter of 1950, the ship left to begin a new mission under new ownership in Houston, Texas. As Holiday approached Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, a storm severely battered and damaged the ship. The following spring, the ship was sold to the Wilson Line, rebuilt for service with the Virginia Ferry Corporation again, and renamed Accomac. The ferry Accomac was intended for service between Cape Charles and Norfolk, Virginia. Accomac underwent a structural overhaul, which consisted of changes to enable it for head-on loading with the capability of hauling 70 cars and 1,200 passengers each trip. After being assigned to the Kiptopeke to Little Creek, Virginia run, the ship suffered a fire on May 28, 1964, and was permanently taken out of commission. By 1971, the listing changed to "out of documentation," and about 1973, the ship was hauled to Mallows Bay and abandoned.