The World’s Largest Ship Graveyard, Mallows Bay MD

Mallows Bay, 30 miles south of Washington DC, is home to 130 wooden ships, most of them sunk in the aftermath of World War I. Looking down at them from Google maps is a weird sight.

Preparing for war in 1917, the US government authorised the building of 1,000 ships to carry troops and supplies to Europe. By the time of the armistice 18 months later, only a fraction had been built. None had crossed the Atlantic.  At a cost of between $700,000 to $1 million per ship, it was said they were poorly built, too small and heavy to feasibly transport troops.

The Western Marine and Salvage Company bought 233 of the ships in 1922, eventually deciding to move them to Mallows Bay for wrecking. The stock market crash of 1929 put the Western Marine and Salvage Company out of business. People eager to make a living picked at the hulks for salvage. Other ships were used to hide illegal stills (this was Prohibition era after all), while brothels were set up on others.

Another attempt to salvage the ships occurred during World War II. Since then, the remnants of at least 152 ships has remained there, largely untouched, reclaimed by the fish.

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About Richard

I am a writer who travels endlessly. Fascinated by how our lives are propelled forward by what's left behind, I thirst to know everything. I read, collect, gather, organise, list. Here are some of the things I read, see and experience. Please make yourself at home: drinks and pretzels will be served shortly. If you'd like to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you!

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