Chesapeake Conservancy Releases Virtual Tour of Western Hemisphere’s Largest Collection of Shipwrecks

Potomac River’s Mallows Bay Serves as Historic Resting Place for Ghost Fleet of WWI Ships

Annapolis, MD – The Chesapeake Conservancy has released a virtual tour of Mallows Bay in the Potomac River, home to the “Ghost Fleet,” the largest collection of historic shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere, which have also become thriving ecological habitats.

The virtual tour, which shares the perspective similar to what a kayaker might see first hand paddling about the shipwrecks, is now available on the Chesapeake Conservancy’s website at

“The Chesapeake Conservancy is excited to bring one of the treasures of the Chesapeake to anyone with access to a computer, tablet or mobile phone. Mallows Bay is a great place to explore with historic shipwrecks that are also thriving ecological habitats,” Chesapeake Conservancy President and CEO Joel Dunn said. “We hope that the virtual tour will inspire more people to come and see Mallows Bay first hand. This special place is currently under review by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to become the Chesapeake’s first National Marine Sanctuary.”

Earlier this month, the Conservancy and Richmond-based Terrain360 deployed a one-of-a-kind handmade boat, equipped with six cameras mounted 10 feet above the water’s surface to capture high-resolution, 360-degree images every 50 feet.  Terrain360 built and operates the pontoon and stitched the images together to create a digital image map of Mallows Bay.

The Chesapeake Conservancy is a core partner along with Charles County, MD and other organizations on the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary Nomination, submitted by the State of Maryland in September 2014. Such a designation would protect this marine landscape for generations to come. On October 5, NOAA issued a Notice of Intent to initiate a full public procedure and Environmental Impact Statement.

NOAA has scheduled two public meetings to solicit public comments, concerns, and visions for the proposed new sanctuary. The two meeting dates and details are:

Wednesday, November 4, 2015
Charles County Government Building
200 Baltimore Street, La Plata, Maryland

Tuesday, November 10, 2015,
Annapolis Maritime Museum
723 2nd St., Annapolis, Maryland

The “Ghost Fleet” of Mallows Bay includes more than 100 wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet during World War I, as well as many other wrecks from Revolutionary times through the 1900s. These wrecks support diverse ecosystems that are teeming with marine life, attracting recreational fishing and ecotourists to the area along the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail.