Mallows Bay, a unique cultural and ecological site in Charles County, is one step closer to being designated as the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary and Marylanders now have the opportunity to show their support. Paddle on to find out more about the site and submit comments:


Map Showing the Location of over 140 steamship in Mallows Bay in 1929.

Location of over 140 steamship in Mallows Bay in 1929.

Mallows Bay is most famous for its Ghost Fleet of WWI wooden steamships that were purposefully sank in the bay when a salvage operation was no longer profitable. Today, kayakers can glide through the bay and peer into the water to see remnants of at least seven types of ships from the period. More than 200 wrecks have been identified in the bay making this the largest and most diverse collection of shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere – and as such, was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2015.

The Ghost Fleet is not the only thing that makes this area remarkable. According to the September 2014 application submitted to NOAA by the State of Maryland requesting the designation “the associated marine and terrestrial ecosystems are among the most ecologically-significant and undeveloped in the tidewaters of Maryland.” Both flora and fauna have made a home in the shipwrecks and special mini-ecosystems have developed. Also, the Piscataway and Piscataway-Conoy nations occupied this area from the Archaic Period through the Post-Contact Period and further research at Mallows Bay may identify important settlements.


In October 2015, NOAA announced its intent to respond to the request for designation. This month NOAA released the Draft Environmental Impact Study and the Draft Management Plan for the new sanctuary and is currently accepting public comment on the creation of the sanctuary. This designation will elevate this amazing place in southern Maryland to the national stage, and you can help make it possible.

There are two public meetings scheduled for early March 2017, and comments will be accepted through March 31, 2017 via mail or email. Information on attending the public meetings and how to submit comments online is available on the NOAA project website.

Map of Mallows Bay, Alternative C, NOAA’s preferred alternative.

Mallows Bay, Alternative C, NOAA’s preferred alternative.

The Chesapeake Conservancy is a member of the Partners for Mallows Bay – Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary and has a wealth of information about the proposals on their website. In order to best preserve the natural and historic resources, Alternative C is the preferred configuration of the sanctuary, because it achieves the two goals of the community; protecting and promoting the shipwrecks and expand opportunities for public recreational access.