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Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the State of Maryland and Charles County Government have announced the designation of a new national marine sanctuary to protect the remains of more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels built as part of America’s engagement in World War I. 

Mallows Bay is most renowned for its “Ghost Fleet,” the partially submerged remains of more than 100 wooden steamships that were built in response to threats from World War I-era German U-boats that were sinking ships in the Atlantic. Although the ships never saw action during the war, their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states reflected the massive national wartime effort that drove the expansion and economic development of communities and related maritime service industries. The fleet was brought to the Potomac River to be salvaged for scrap metal by a company in Alexandria, Virginia, not far from the sanctuary site.

The sanctuary was formally designated on September 3, 2019, following 45 days of continuous congressional session after publication in the Federal Register on July 8. NOAA, the State of Maryland, and Charles County Government will manage the national marine sanctuary jointly.

The Charles County Department of Recreation, Parks & Tourism offers guided kayak tours of Mallows Bay from May-October. Learn more about guided kayak tours by clicking here.