A fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda Triangle

Not the real Bermuda Triangle — the fictional one where Cthulhu, Amelia Earhart, and Aqua-Sasquatch chill out drinking Bay Breezes. This is actually a photo of the Navy's eerie mothballed fleet in Suisun Bay, 30 miles north of San Francisco.

Photographer Scott Haefner and his colleagues evaded military patrol vessels to photograph these floating behemoths, which are now being scrapped because they're shedding toxic paint into the bay. Check out Scott's tale of infiltrating these ships and some amazing maritime photography.

These ghost ships, part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) overseen by the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD), were supposed to be ready for duty in the event of a national emergency. Perhaps a few ships are actually "reserve ready" and could be activated, but the vast majority are well beyond their useful lives and rotting away as they wait in line for disposal.

The mothballed ships once numbered close to 400, and in 1959, 324 vessels still lined the waters of Suisun Bay. Although the ships continued to dwindle down over time, approximately 75 remained throughout the 2000s, rusting and leaching toxic heavy metals into the bay as the Bush administration did little to address the crumbling ships [...]

Getting inside the ships was usually not straightforward, and sometimes impossible. MARAD locks them down tight, but there are so many possible entrances that persistence often paid off. One of the first orders of business each trip was finding a place to sleep. The ships are often stinky from mold, mildew, PCBs, and decay, so a room with windows that opened was preferable. We typically slept in the captain's room where we found comfy couches, convertible beds, lots of space, and plenty of light during the daytime.

You can read about the photographers' harrowing run-ins with Navy patrol boats (and see more awesome photos) at Scott's website.


A fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda TriangleA fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda Triangle
A fleet of Navy ghost ships, right out of the Bermuda Triangle