Great Images of the Ghost Fleet

If you want to see something really cool, look at this collection of images from a team that made its onto the U.S. Maritime Administration’s reserve fleet in Suisun Bay California. I used to drive past these ships all the time fantasizing about doing this. Above is a shot of Lockheed’s Sea Shadow stealth demonstrator ship inside the dry dock barge originally built for the super secret effort to raise the Soviet submarine K-129. (Imagine breaking into the barge and coming across that?) Below are a few of the cooler shots including several of the battleship U.S.S. Iowa.

For decades after World War II, the Suisun Bay fleet held hundreds of ships but that has dwindled to a few dozen today. The Maritime Administration maintains two other such fleets in Beaumont, TX, and James River,VA.  And don’t forget the U.S. Navy’s own reserve fleets in Philly and Puget Sound, WA.

  • Matt

    I think they still have a Newport News-class cruiser up in Quincy, MA, I think it’s the USS Salem.

    • Belesari

      That is a Des Moines Class Yall are talking about there is no Newport News class It was one of the above though only 4 and yes she is the last one.

      God the Iowa’s are beautiful ships.

  • Adam

    So I live in Benicia, Ca which is the town that harbors these ships. Lived there my whole life. I owned a jet ski and many times rode around those ships. I’m 24 right now and can remember when there were houndreds and sometimes seemed like thousands of ships out there. Rigth now it seems emtpy. It’s a cool collection. Watching those ships leave was always an event for our small town.

  • Stephen Russell

    Sweet pics, must for Military Channel & History Channel alone.

  • Deane Gilmour

    WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO THE OLD MOTHBALL LIBERTY FLEET IN WILMINGTON, NC? I REMEMBER AS A KID IN THE 40’S AND 50’S TRYING TO SEE THE END OF THE LINES OF THOSE SHIPS ALONG BOTH SIDES OF THE INLET ON THE WAY ONTO WILMINGTON. GUESS THEY ARE ALL IN DAVY JONES LOCKER NOW.

    • Clyde M. Smith

      I to am asking what happened to the old mothball liberty fleet in Wilmington, N.C.? I remember as a young boy in the late 50`sand early 60`s seeing the endless lines of ships on both sides of the inlet on the way into Wilmington. I guess they were scraped for the metal.

  • Jacob

    What’s that last picture….a WWII radar screen?

    • Chaplain Ed

      That is a SPS-10 radar repeater. I used that in the CIC of the USS Pratt. Ah…memories!

      • ew-3

        Make that a SPA-10 Father…

        • Kevin

          It is a SPA-25, can’t tell if its an A or B (I think the mods went all the way to G). Its a radar repeater that could have been used with the SPS-10 surface search radar, or any other one connected to the radar switchboard.

  • SMSgt Mac

    Great. What’s next? Coverage of ‘military base graffiti of the week’? Hope security gets them next time….. and they ‘resist’.

  • Tom Fitz

    This is kind of a sad story for those who love ships, historic or not: well done. What’s even sadder is the situation of the 1893 armored cruiser USS Olympia. Why that ship isn’t a well-cared-for public monument is beyond me.

  • jemc50

    Cool pics. That being said, having these guys able to sneak aboard does not say much for the security patrols awareness. Something definitely wrong with the security “picture”.

  • M.G Halvorsen

    They sank my old ship this last year off Hawaii, after being in the Benicia “Mothball fleet” since 1996. They used the ex-USS New Orleans (LPH-!!) for target practice during the RimPac exercises. She took 42 Tomahawk missles, 5″ naval gunfire, and a 500lb bomb before she finally rolled over and quit. Kinda sad to see her go.

  • Roland

    What’s it’s armory? Can it defend itself against an attaking 70 Chinese catamaran missile boats?

  • Foreign.Boy

    I thought the IOWA was being dismantled. Its surprising even to see its guns still there.

  • Chuck

    Being a former Navy guy I have a great fascination for the history of these ships. These were homes to many of my brothers (and sisters too but that was after my time). My former home is now a museum in San Diego and was saved from this rusting fate. A couple times a year I fish in suisun bay and I have observed folks moving about these ships. I assumed they were security or contractors continuing the mothball process. On more than one occasion we have been asked to move farther away. I have always wanted to take a walk around them myself. While sitting in a boat in the cold and dark just outside the exclusion zone you can hear the wind slam an undogged hatch and the the creaks and growns of the dying ships. It is beautiful and eary.

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