Public invited to celebrate new Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary

November 4, 2019
The historic shipwrecks of Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary provide habitat for birds and other wildlife.

NOAA is inviting the press and public to celebrate the designation of Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary on Sat., Nov. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Mallows Bay Parkoffsite link in Maryland.

The sanctuary was established this year to protect remnants of more than 100 abandoned warships built for World War I. Mallows Bay, about 40 miles south of Washington, D.C., is the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000. 

As part of the celebration, the public can learn more about the sanctuary through educational displays, short kayak tours, nature walks and oral histories about the sanctuary’s maritime heritage. The event will also recognize the State of Maryland, Charles County and dedicated partners for their tremendous support for the designation. 

Mallows Bay is most renowned for the “Ghost Fleet,” the partially submerged remnants of more than 100 wooden steamships that were built to go after World War I German U-boats that were sinking ships in the Atlantic. Although the ships never saw action, their construction at more than 40 shipyards in 17 states reflected the massive national wartime effort that drove the expansion and economic development of communities and related maritime service industries.

Today, nature has reclaimed the ships, with some appearing to look like long skinny islands of vegetation. The wrecks provide shelter for flora and fauna, including fish, beavers and osprey.

The sanctuary was formally designated on Sept. 3, 2019. NOAA, the State of Maryland and Charles County will manage the national marine sanctuary jointly. 

Reporters who wish to attend should RSVP by email to Vernon Smith, NOAA Marine Sanctuaries Communications by Fri., Nov. 8, 3:00 pm.

WHAT:  Celebration of Mallows Bay National Marine Sanctuary dedication

WHEN:  Sat., Nov. 9, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST

WHERE:  Mallows Bay Parkoffsite link, 1440 Wilson Landing Road, Nanjemoy, Maryland


  • Maryland Governor Larry Hogan
  • Senator Chris Van Hollen (Md.) 
  • Mary Neumayr, chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Neil Jacobs, Ph.D., acting NOAA administrator
  • Paul Orlando, NOAA Chesapeake Bay regional coordinator
  • Reuben B. Collins, Board of Charles County commissioners president

For members of the media

Future updates about the celebration will be available here:

Mallows Bay media resources:


Media contact

Vernon Smith, (240) 533-0662

Brady Phillips, (240) 533-0946