From the Chesapeake Conservancy: 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. The Mallows Bay site is the largest collection of shipwrecks in the Western Hemisphere, and is currently under review to become a National Marine Sanctuary in the near future.

The 360 degree view allows anyone with a computer or smart phone to experience Mallows Bay as a kayaker would. Photo courtesy of Chesapeake Conservancy

Now, the Chesapeake Conservancy in Annapolis, MD, has released a virtual tour of various shipwrecks at the site. Previously, the only way to truly experience the 'Ghost' Fleet was by water. The virtual tour, which shares the perspective similar to what a kayaker might see 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.

Some ships completely blend into the scenery, but thanks to the virtual tour, viewers can begin to visualize their original design.

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. Click to Chesapeake Conservancy's site here to start exploring the 'Ghost' Fleet of Mallows Bay.