During the 1960s, every road trip I took with my family down Interstate 80 toward San Francisco was highlighted by a few familiar landmarks. One of these was the old “Mothball Fleet” anchored in Suisun Bay. At the time I didn’t really understand the significance of these ships, but I was always impressed by their bulky outlines far away across the water. And I assumed the Mothball Fleet would always be right there in the bay.
Welcome to Suisun Bay, home to one of the strangest fleets of ships you’ll ever see, the “Mothball Fleet.” Hundreds of ships all chained together, from tub to tanker, from Victory to cruiser, these ships are part of our National Defense Reserve Fleet. Come aboard with Huell as he tours some of these historic ships harking back to our state’s – and our nation’s naval past.
This episode of California’s Gold, first aired in the mid 1990s, tells a great story about the history of these various ships and the details of their warehousing in the waters near Benicia. What it doesn’t talk about is the negative environmental impact of the old ships — and that’s something I also had forgotten to consider. Most of the fleet is gone now, and I’ll miss seeing that impressive sight in the future. Then again, I think it’s better to keep our history alive, rather than stashing it away somewhere, reducing it to a collection of rusty spare parts.
(Click on the linked image below to see the video.)
Note that the cargo ship Cape Borda was also mentioned in this episode of California’s Gold — click on the image below to see the August 2017 news report.