Inside the Ghost Ships of the Mothball Fleet

For decades, dozens of forgotten Navy and merchant ships have been corroding in Suisun Bay, 30 miles northeast of San Francisco. These historic vessels—the Mothball Fleet—served their country in four wars: WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and Desert Storm. After a decade of impasse, the ghost fleet is slowly dwindling as the ships are towed out one-by-one for scrapping. About 15 retired ships are already gone; by 2017, the entire fleet will be just a memory.

Mothball Fleet photo: Ghost Ships

Over a two-year period, several close friends and I gained unprecedented access to the decaying ships, spending several days at a time photographing, documenting, and even sleeping aboard them—often in the luxury of the captain’s quarters. Sneaking on-board required months of planning and coordination, and it involved taking significant risks. Of course, things did not always go as planned, but despite several close calls, we were successful in all of our attempts to infiltrate the ships while evading round-the-clock security patrols.

Mothball Fleet photo: Captain's Room

History and Current State

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.

Mothball Fleet photo: Gettysburg

Many ships in the fleet served in World War II, including the historic USS Iowa, the last remaining U.S. lead battleship. Retired war ships like the Iowa were laid up in Suisun Bay for decades awaiting their next battle, but the call never came. Instead, they have sat unused and largely forgotten. But the Iowa will likely see a different fate than its sister ships who await their ultimate demise at a shipbreaker. Vallejo is currently in a heated battle with the port of Los Angeles (San Pedro) to secure rights to the battleship and turn it into a museum.

Mothball Fleet photo: USS Iowa

Guns on the deck of the USS Iowa.

Ticking Environmental Time Bombs

The ships have shed more than 20 tons of toxic paint debris that have settled into bay sediments, where they will cause problems long after the ships are gone. Even though Congress and the State of California ordered MARAD to address the situation, nothing was done for most of the past decade. Lawsuits filed by environmental groups were also unsuccessful in forcing MARAD to remove the ships. However, after Barack Obama took the Oval Office in 2008, the tide shifted and MARAD began working diligently to clean up and remove the ships.


As news began to mount that the ships would finally be towed out for scrapping, we knew we had to act fast if we wanted to explore and document them. We had fantasized for years about getting aboard, but it always seemed too difficult and other sites presented fewer challenges. In addition, the potential repercussions of trespassing are likely more severe than other locations we explore. One intimidating factor was our inability to find out what the penalties might entail if we did get caught, making it difficult to weigh the risks.

Mothball Fleet photo: SS President

The President, which was towed to Mare Island in March 2011 to be scrapped. In May, it was towed out again, this time to Texas, in a swap for its sister ship, the President Lincoln, which was deemed too un-seaworthy to make the voyage to Texas.

But we knew that many inherent risks could be mitigated with enough planning and preparation. Before making our first trip on the water, Stephen scoped out the environs to assess how close we could get to the water on foot, which along with satellite imagery, helped us determine our route. Later, we made a second visit just to observe the 24-hour security patrols from the safety of the shoreline. We also purchased a scanner to eavesdrop on nearby radio communications and studied tidal patterns, planning our trips accordingly.

Mothball Fleet photo: Sea Shadow

Sea Shadow inside the Hughes Mining Barge.

We had to overcome numerous obstacles just to get to the ships without even addressing the issues involved in getting on them. To get across the channel, we acquired a small, inflatable raft that was just big enough for the three of us and our gear, along with a small motor powered by a car battery. A raft seemed ideal several reasons: 1. it was not possible to drive up to the drop-in point, so we needed something lightweight to carry across the marsh, along with our camera gear, food, water, and sleeping bags; 2. we needed a boat that we could maneuver through extremely shallow tidal flats near the shore; 3. The raft’s low profile and nearly silent motor would help us evade security patrols; 4. a raft would be the easiest type of vessel to pull aboard the ships once we found a way on, and we could then deflate it and stash it away from prying eyes.

Mothball Fleet photo: Inflatable Raft

An inflatable raft does have its disadvantages. For one thing, it’s only possible to mount a tiny, low power motor on an inflatable raft. But the primary drawback is that holes are nearly inevitable. On our second trip, we discovered several holes as we readied the boat along the roadside. Luckily, we found a patch kit at a nearby gas station, and we were back in business. Another time, we discovered leaks on our return trip as we were leaving the ships. In this case, we continuously pumped up the boat while still on the water.

Scouting Mission

For our first trip, we decided to play it safe and treat it purely as a scouting mission. We did not bring our cameras or overnight gear, and we approached the ships cautiously. Warning signs posted on the hulls instruct you to stay at least 500 feet away. When we agreed it was safe, we breached the 500 foot barrier, and found a place with good cover where we could scope out potential ways aboard. To our surprise and delight, it was easier to climb aboard than we had imagined. It was a huge rush to climb aboard for the first time, but we did not stay long in case we set off alarm sensors. We turned back and called it a weekend, but now we knew it was possible.

Aboard the Ships

On subsequent trips, we spent the entire weekend aboard the ships, each time on a different row. Because they are tethered closely together in rows, we had many ships to explore—enough to keep us occupied for a week or more if the excursions were not so draining and we did not have jobs pulling us back. But the main reason we stayed all weekend is simply because it was such a challenge to get out there. Getting aboard was both physically and emotionally draining and was the riskiest part of the endeavor.

Mothball Fleet photo: USCGC Glacier

USS Sperry from the crow’s nest of the USCGC Glacier.

Once aboard, everything seemed to slow down. The adrenaline rush and anxiety I felt as we approached the ships instantly faded once we climbed aboard safely. I found it easy to relax and enjoy the quiet and stillness of the evening, miles from the hustle and bustle of modern civilization. We heard nearby trains rumbling as they passed, even inside the ships, but that’s it. Otherwise, it was just us and a few birds of prey that call the ships home.

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.

Mothball Fleet photo: SS Export Bay

We slept during the day after shooting and exploring all night. Around noon, we would wake up and eat and explore the bowels of the ships. We had to be careful moving around on the decks during the day, but because the ships are so tall, it was still fairly low-key—at least during our initial trips. On later trips, we ran into crews working on the ships, even on weekends, due to increased cleanup efforts. Luckily we always saw or heard them before they saw us!

Final Trip

On our final trip, we visited the “J Row,” the closest row to security headquarters where 24-hour crews keep a watchful eye on the ships. It would prove to be our most harrowing trip yet, because we had to pass within a couple hundred feet of the converted boathouse where the guards reside.

As we boarded the ships, a patrol boat zoomed up on us and started shining spotlights. Luckily, we had already climbed to safety, but it seemed odd that they accosted us like that. Fearing that we might have tripped alarm sensors, I had an uneasy feeling all weekend as we explored the ships. Despite ramped up patrols and uncharacteristic spotlighting all night long, we spent the weekend exploring the ships unscathed.

Mothball Fleet photo: Taluga

However, as we prepared to leave, we got buzzed by security again while inflating our raft on a barge near water level. With nowhere to hide, we literally hit the deck and prayed that they would not see us. In the scramble, Stephen dropped both paddles through a thin slot on the barge. Not only were we now lacking an essential piece of equipment that we needed to get back to shore, but worse, the paddles might float out in view of the security boat. All three of us began to panic, but there was little we could do. After a couple false starts when it initially appeared security had moved on, we frantically dropped our boat in the water, followed by our gear and ourselves, trying to be careful not to dunk our expensive cameras in the frenzy.

Remarkably, we found one of the oars floating out from under the barge right where we dropped the raft in the water. The other was about 50 feet away in a relatively calm patch of water next to the President, the last ship in the row. We decided to detour to retrieve the paddle, which would burn a couple minutes and leave us vulnerable if the security boat returned. Fortunately it did not, and we got away from the ships quickly, thanks to gallant rowing efforts by Jon and me as Stephen motored ahead.

Mothball Fleet photo: Stephen Freskos

But before we could get outside the invisible 500 foot barrier, we found ourselves right in the beam of the security boat’s search light. We were had! We stopped paddling, and desperately tried to come up with a good cover story. Practically admitting defeat, we decided that there was not much we could say, and we feared our gear would give us away. Then, astonishingly, after being in direct view of the boat’s spotlight for at least 10 seconds, the light moved off us and nothing happened. We kept rowing. The light came back a second time, further escalating our sense of despair. But then, the light went off of us again! We could not believe it—the boat turned and went the other way, but we still were not certain we were off the hook.

We frantically rowed until we reached the shore, fearing at any moment they would come for us. It was not until we reached the safety of the small marshy channel that we breathed a huge sigh of relief. The sun was about to rise and the morning chorus of chirping birds began. We were exhausted and vowed that this trip, our fifth, would be our last visit. Sadly, it was.

On May 7, 2011, we gave a slideshow presentation Mothball Fleet Revealed at Workspace Limited in San Francisco.

View more of my Mothball Fleet photos »


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597 Responses to Inside the Ghost Ships of the Mothball Fleet

  1. Alvin Tenpo said on 

    Great show tonight. I enjoyed meeting you and hearing your stories.
    Would love to hear about your other adventures.


    • chris said on 

      So there is an upside to unemployment. People get to do things they want to do without a pesky job getting in the way! Just think of all the wonderful things we could investigate with 20% unemployment.

      • Susan said on 

        Spoken like a true, embittered, internet lurker. Are you an Information Technologies wage slave, by chance?

        Don’t worry, it will all be okay.

      • Jon Haeber said on 

        Actually, the three of us are fully employed, wage-earning, tax-paying citizens… We do this thing in our free time because we love it and we want to share these things with the public. It’s your loss for making blanket assumptions about who we are and what our political beliefs are (which I think shouldn’t matter in the context). If you really would like to know, I’m personally a libertarian, and I don’t “blame” Bush for his inaction – it’s what one would expect from big government.

        • Monica Williams said on 

          Good for you don’t you love assumptions. I am really glad you do this and show the world what time has forgotten. I can’t wait to see more pics. You three did a fantastic job and I wish I had the cahonies that you guys have just to have fun.

        • Mario said on 

          Hey i think wht you guys did i the coolest ,i would have gone with you guys without a second thaught .That kind of risk taking and exploring really gets me going !!!! kudos hats off to you fellas.

    • Zal said on 

      One more thing .. I think this portion below, that I CUT and PASTED from one of your responses says it all! Most of the off-the-wall critisisms were made w/o reading this paragraph.

      By the way, for all those that do not know, the toxic materials have to be removed regardless of the final outcome .. even if the ship is scrapped. So cost of such effort cannot be avoided.

      again, one big ATTA Boy to you all!

      Stephen Freskos said on
      June 16, 2011 at 5:57pm:

      There was one ship in Row F that was completely sealed, painted completely gray, and had sheet metal covering all doors and windows, adhered with some kind of industrial waterproofing sealant. This must have been one of the few “reserve ready” ships and we made no attempts at entry.

      The vast majority of the ships we visited were nowhere close to being put back into service. Most of the bridges had 75% or more of their navigation, radio, and communications equipment removed. Most engine rooms had a variety of parts removed with no systems active whatsoever. I found no boilers in a state of proper layup.

      No desiccant, no nitrogen blanketing; instead, the mud and steam drums were wide open and caked with rust, burners left installed and caked with solidified bunker C/HFO, pools of HFO on the floors, etc. From the state of the boilers and other equipment, and burners left in place with HFO still dripping out, it doesn’t appear that they flushed the entire system with distillate fuel oils and properly prepared these ships for any kind of future service.

      • Ron said on 

        This is truely amazing. There should be some way to restore these fine ships that helped America stay free. To take on that job of restoring history I would be the first to sign up. Thank You for the pics and your story.

        • Maci Hooper said on 

          Three ships have left Reserve Fleets to be preserved. the first is the Jeremiah O’Brien, a Liberty ship built in Portland Maine. she is at Pier 45 in San Francisco and could use help with preservation – google SS Jeremiah O’Brien – National AALiberty Ship Memorial
          The O’Brien is the only ship to leave a reserve fleet under her won power – which she did in October of 1979. The Jeremiah O’Brien made a 5-month voyage to Normandy in June of 1994 – for D-Day + 50. She was the only vessel from the D-Day landings to return for the anniversary.

          Second is the Lane Victory, which is in San Pedro California – and welcomes volunteers also

          Third is the Red Oak Victory, which is in Richmond Ca – and also welcomes volunteers.

          There ia one more WWII ship in Baltimore, the John W Brown. She is like the O’Brien in that they do annual cruises welcoming people abourd for a day of steaming.

          • kathy said on 

            There is another battleship…the USS North Carolina in Wilmington, NC…its awesome…I toured the ship in 1993 2 days before Christmas. We spent 6 hours just walking it. They were playing WW2 era Christmas songs and had turned it into a tourist destination. In the summer they do laser light show where it is rumored that you can see the spit shine on the sailors shoes…but its only laser lights. I want to go back and see that. Its really worth the trip.

          • Rene said on 

            You left off the Glomar Explorer…it was removed some years ago and retrofitted for, I believe, NOAA.

          • Steven said on 

            As for the USS Iowa, her sister ships are museums. The USS Missouri is at Pearl Harbor. The New Jersey is in Camden NJ, and the USS Wisconsin is in Norfolk VA.

          • Frederick said on 

            I toured BB 55 the North Carolina in 1967, in Wilmington N.C. She is an imposing weapon. Real history. At that time, I was a young Marine awaiting orders to go to Vietnam, and stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

            No laser shows in those days. Not practical for me for health purposes, but I would love to visit her again.

            I believe several such sites should be established around the country for historical purposes. We have several sites already, we should build on and improve, if necessary the existing sites, like the North Carolina. Nominally 5 sites would do it, in my opinion.

      • Brad said on 

        With some fabrication and machining up a few new parts to connect the props, Do you think it would be possible to retrofit a couple good size diesel engines in place of the steam boilers/engines??

      • benjamin said on 

        These questions are just to satisfy my curiosity, but are you guys by chance students at Cal Maritime, or do you work aboard commercial ships, some of the equipment you described would not be recognizable on sight to the average person

    • Tim T said on 

      Interesting to see the SEA SHADOW in those pictures. That vessle cost 50 million to build and nearly 200 million for the entire program nearly 30 years ago and there it sits waiting to be scrapped.

      • Blake said on 

        I was wondering if the Sea Shadow was still in that HMB-1 barge!!!
        I’ve driven by the Suisun Reserve Fleet many times lately and, seeing the Hughes Mining Barge rusting-away there, had a gut feeling it was still inside. Kind of like back in 1991 in Redwood City, CA when I walked up close to this same giant barge docked at a makeshift Lockheed facility and had an eerie feeling there was something very cool on the inside and that if I were able to dive under it, I might find. I had no idea the thing had a moonpool bottom or that the Stealth Ship was inside then.
        Thank you guys very much for documenting this history before it’s all gone!

  2. Sara said on 

    Those photos are incredible, i like how you see everything, the old and destroyed thing becomes wonderful, i’m your fan.

    • H Horton said on 

      When will your photos (and perhaps photos of the ship in their prime years) and histories of the ships be published as a picture/ coffee table book? Perhaps some of the money raised from sales could go to efforts to clean up Suisun Bay and its adjoining marshes.

  3. Jackie Rave said on 

    Wow how daring and wonderful !!! Love the photos and your words…… Thank you for sharing !! I saw a special about these but it wasn’t near as interesting as your stuff !! Thanks again. BTW “Be careful out there”

  4. Jeff said on 

    Utterly brilliant, Scott. Great story, what an adventure, and wonderful shots. I love how you go into these places, but this one is the ultimate.

    I lived in the Bay Area for 30 years and have seen these ships sitting there the duration. I’ve only been a photographer for around 4 years (lifelong musician), and love your photography- you’ve been an inspiration. Currently a digital nomad, roaming and shooting while I work online.

  5. Noel said on 

    Epic…in every aspect. Great shots, great explore!

  6. Fako said on 

    Just brilliant.
    Nice story and very good pics !
    This is a nice example of the difference between a big and a small country …overhere in Belgium such places aren’t possible…to bad !

  7. Paul said on 

    Why does Bush get the blame for the ships leaking hazardous materials into the bay? Has Obama done anything yet.? I like your photos but you lost credibility with your statement. It’s a problem that need to be addressed to say the least but you should all who don’t take action not just one man who became president several years later.

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      Of course it’s true that many people were involved, but Obama is widely credited for finally addressing these toxic ships. I just did a quick Google search for “mothball fleet obama” and the first match contains this quote from Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez): “I commend the Obama Administration and Deputy Secretary Porcari for coming up with a plan to deal with this very difficult problem after years of delay by the Bush Administration”.

      • jace said on 

        couldnt you then blame it on Clinton, bush, reagan or carter?

        • Matthew Persico said on 

          Yes, the mothball fleet has been there since WWII. Assume the ships didn’t rust right away; give them 30 years. So a more proper chain of blame would be Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush.

      • Katy said on 

        Kudos need to go to Baykeepers, an organization that sued the Feds over the decaying mothball fleet. And then Kudos to the Obama Administration for settling, and committing to s swift dismantling of the fleet.

    • brett said on 

      I second this. Yeah, he made mistakes, but seriously; I guess there’s nothing as much fun as forcing political bashing into every little thing.

      • Chloe said on 

        What Scott posted was not political bashing; it’s just stating fact. There is plenty of information out there about how the Bush administration ignored the problem despite lawsuits filed during his administration by environmental agencies about the pollution the ships were causing. Here are some outside sources:

        Arcticle from 6/27/07:
        “The beauty and the utility of the bay are two of our region’s greatest resources,” Tauscher said. “Because of this we need to be vigilant and take every step toward protecting it from present and future environmental hazards. The fact that the have been sitting on this report for months is infuriating. Bay Area citizens have the right to know the environmental impact of the mothball fleet which is why we are putting pressure on the Bush administration to let us know what, if any, plans they have to protect our Bay.”

        Article from Martinez News-Gazette (local paper) 5/24/11:
        “Department of Transportation officials announced Oct. 22, 2009, that the Obama administration wanted 57 obsolete ships removed from the site.”

        Another article from Martinez News-Gazette: 12/6/10:
        “The Obama administration is committed to environmental stewardship and to the cleanup of Suisun Bay, which includes many dilapidated ships that pose a dangerous and unacceptable risk to the surrounding marine environment,” LaHood said this week. “We have already successfully towed the first two ships out of the Bay to be recycled, and with these next contracts in place, will continue moving forward to clean and recycle another three obsolete vessels.”

        “Today’s announcement is very welcome news,” said Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez. “After years of inaction by the Bush administration, the Obama administration stepped up last fall to start removing the ghost fleet, and they are continuing their commitment with today’s announcement. I’m encouraged by today’s development and look forward to this program being completed.”

        So indeed, Obama HAS done a lot already yet to remove the ships, while Bush did nothing. Those are just the facts.

        • George said on 

          Your points still don’t validate putting all the blame on Bush. The ships have been there since the 60′s – just because they got noticed during Bush’s presidency doesn’t mean he gets all the blame.

          • jw said on 

            “Your points still don’t validate putting all the blame on Bush. The ships have been there since the 60′s – just because they got noticed during Bush’s presidency doesn’t mean he gets all the blame.” – George

            You are correct George, Bush should not get all the blame just because they were noticed during Bush’s administration…….but he should be critizied because he did litttle to rectify the situation after the lawsuits were submitted…..just like he did during Katrina, very little. Maybe if the enviromental implications affected the rich population more then he would have been prompted to react accordingly. We all know how the top 2% control everthing anyways.

          • Terry Graham said on 

            Not all those ships just sit there unused. During the Bush administration and the readiness operations leading to both wars in the hunt for terrorists and the overthrow of the dictator in Iraq, I was directly involved in pulling six ships out of mouthball from the fleet in Texas and restoring them to active duty. These ships served proudly one more time and then were put back into mouthball, making sure that all of the ships were sealed with dehumidifiers in case they were need again. Your breach on these vessels could have long lasting effects, if you as a layman, breached these systems for your story. They will now lay open to the elements so they can rot. There is a lot more to why these ships sit where they do that you left out of your story, please try to report the entire story in the future, so you don’t leave a false impression to the general public.

          • kathy said on 

            Terry, I understand what you are saying about breaching the ships… but some of the pictures prove these vessals will NEVER again see active duty….they also mentioned that they saw one completely painted gray and sealed and did not attempt to enter it at all…so they respected the fact that it may be one of the ships ready for recall if needed. I am glad they did what they did.

      • angie said on 

        Right, any opinions that don’t paint King Bush in a positive light is considered political bashing and any opinions expressed about our current president is considered free speech and is protected by the Constitution, as long as the information is “fair and balanced”.

        • Lee said on 

          It’s a sad fact that there are always those who will turn anything, anywhere into a political rant. Don’t let it bother you, you guyes did great photography.

          • John Gallagher said on 

            I agree with Lee… Blame never resolved anything… I was born in 1963; raised in Pleasant Hill, and still have family there; Martinez, Petaluma, and Fort Bragg Ca… I spent a good part of my life fishing the straights, sloughs, and Martinez Pier… I used to love listening to the Old Timers talk about the fleet and the ships they served on… Never had the balls to do what you guys did, (however, I’ve been chased out by security before while fishing out there). Kudos to you gentlemen for making this happen…!!! Those ships have many stories to tell…

        • Kenneth said on 

          I like the pictures because I served on some of those ships. BUT, the photographer should stick to the pictures and leave politics out of it. (look at the link for all of the pictures). “rusting and leaching toxic heavy metals into the bay as the Bush administration did little to address the crumbling ships.” then “However, after Barack Obama took the Oval Office in 2008, the tide shifted and MARAD began working diligently to clean up and remove the ships.” That is not true, at least not here on the east coast. During the Bush Presidential years, the “Ghost Fleet” on the James River, here in Virginia was greatly reduced. If you will recall all of the opposition to some of the ships to be tore down for scrap in UK.
          Article dated July 1, 2009, in the local paper in Norfolk, Virginia states “The Maritime Administration got rid of an average of 20 obsolete vessels a year between 2003 and 2007.” Also, same paper, dated August 25, 2009 “When the two ships leave the mothball fleet located off Fort Eustis in Newport News, they will be the 83rd and 84th vessels to be scrapped since 2001, according to Maritime Administration statistics.” You can find more articles by looking up “Ghost Fleet”.
          With that being said… typical left wing political views did not need to be expressed, more so because they do not stand up to the true facts. Better to have just posted the photos by themselves…..

          • saltshaker128 said on 

            Well said, Kenneth! I think the political statements would have been better off left unsaid too! Since those ghost ships have been sitting there FOR AS LONG AS THEY HAVE, it behooved EVERY ADMINISTRATION to do something about them, PERIOD!

          • charlie-MFA said on 

            I have to take special note of the political slam, also would like to point out that the photographers were “breaking the law” nothing new for the liberals- the laws are for others, those ships out there are for my exploration, to heck with having an accident- the people will pay for my medical expenses, the security is there to protect them from themselves, but they managed to elude or get around that control. But also knowing that “artiists” are highly trained political thinkers and evaluate all info under the same standards, I just wish that the liberal media would examine their leaders actions with as much desire to find out what is going on as these guys did with this story.

          • aaron said on 

            “With that being said… typical left wing political views did not need to be expressed, more so because they do not stand up to the true facts. Better to have just posted the photos by themselves…..”

            He’s not expressing “views” or “thoughts” or anything open to interpretation in any way. These are facts. Facts which clearly don’t align with your “views” so you’re making a very poor attempt at dismissing them. You go on to quote his statements about the lawsuits during the Bush Adm. and removal of these ships in particular under the Obama Adm., then call it inaccurate. Your “proof” ships on the opposite side of the country. How does this make any sense to you?

        • Andrea said on 

          I’m wondering why it wouldn’t have been more effective/possible to dry dock the majority of the older ships before they were past the point of repair and not left to continue to decay and leech into the water. Would that not have saved them for future use in a more economical and ecological manner? I’m confused by storing in one area, yet having to tow them long distances to another for repair/dismantlement. Maybe this is a stupid question, but why isn’t there a large enough storage/repair/dismantlement area all in the same place they are stored? Seems it would be more cost effective (imagine that), or is that a security issue having a more cost effective and efficient placement for all of those stages? And REALLY? Stop throwing blame and just do something about it… they spend more oxygen throwing blame out of their mouths than they do addressing and fixing the problems.

          Thank you! Great Pictures regardless of who did what….it’s part of History.

          • duckles said on 

            When they first created that mothball fleet in Susin bay there was a naval base called Mare Island in Vallejo, just a few miles away). At that time all the refitting work could have been done there. It has long since been closed.

        • Michael Witcher said on 

          Angie –

          You’ve got to be kidding!! I spent 6 years working on political staffs and the past 8 years working in homeland and national security. How you or any other naive progressive liberal can say that “any opinions that don’t paint Bush in a positive light is [sic] considered political bashing and any opinions expressed about our current president is [sic] considered free speech” is absolutely ludicrous!

          For the past two-plus years, the media has utterly failed to air stories of Obama’s miserable failings and treasonous acts (and I’m not referring to oral in the oval). Most news channels air love stories about Obama and his ‘administration’ while they refuse to cover the real news. Obama has bankrupted the Nation, failed to secure our fuel supply, insists on forcing higher electrical costs during what is stastically a greater depression than the Great Depression.

          We’re over $14 trillion in debt, plus over $107 trillion in unfunded liabilities! Did you know that the combined GDP of all of the countries in all the world over 1 year don’t even total $14 trillion?! What about the fact that while Obama claims to have created over 2 million jobs, only 465,000 jobs were created from June 2008 to April 2011; and 50% of those jobs were in Texas!

          Do you even get the implications of Obama handing out $2 billion to Brazil’s Petrobras for deep sea oil drilling, and allowing Petrobras to drill in the Gulf of Mexico even as he denies U.S. companies that same ability? Why do you think the cost of oil is skyrocketing? While I’m sure you just delight in the Muslim Brotherhood’s coup-d’etats in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and their plans throughout the rest of North Africa and the world. Do you get the implications of the presence of the Palestanian flag at protests in each of one of those countries (and European countries)? Are you hoping to dance on the graves of Jews and the Israeli state too?

          I’m sure you’re wondering why I called Obama a traitor. He hasn’t kept his oath to “defend and protect the Constitution of the United States,” he’s appointed over 90 cabinet-like “czars” who have never been confirmed by the Senate, he’s destroyed the U.S. economy and kept us in a downward spiral while printing more fake money and increasing our national debt to catastrophic levels, he took credit for the killing of Bin Laden, but it took him 18 hours to give the “go” order (after 18 months of planning!), he’s destroyed healthcare in the U.S. just to give healthcare to the 10% of citizens who were without, oh and then there’s the grand stimulus for “shovel-ready projects” at a cost of $830 billion (that’s nothing these days, right?)…l could easily continue.

          God help us if you’re the future of our Nation. Allow me to suggest that you stop listening to all of the liberal teachers (who refuse to sacrifice any of their precious benefits for the betterment of the State), and pick up a book that’s actually about U.S. history or the founding of our Country.

          Bush wasn’t the best president in U.S. history, but guess what? The man left the White House over 2 years ago!! Don’t you think that maybe it’s time to hold the man in office responsible for the mistakes he makes? Those of us that grew up under Ronald Reagan (we’re proud of our Nation, our soldiers, and we uphold our laws) have hope that the incredible damage done by Obama and his gang of misfit terrorists (Bill Ayers ring a bell?), but we seriously worry about the majority of your generation who drone on with no idea of what you’re saying or the important issues that affect our Country.

          P.S. Any chance you and your friends could learn grammar? For example, it is correct to say, “opinions about our president ARE expressed;” (not is). It is very incorrect to say, “Him and I.” Correctly worded, one says, “He and I.” Is it really asking too much to ask that you learn our language and american (and world) history properly?

          • neuro said on 

            Don’t you wonder why the US is $14tn in debt? Obama didn’t create the US national debt, he inherited it.

          • RC said on 

            Well said, Michael Witcher – I only hope that the Angie’s of America are listening…

          • kathy said on 

            He may have inherited the debt….but he ran for office willingly and increased the debt…it has grown considerably since he took office.

          • jack waltmans said on 

            Typical govern(mental) reply.Long winded blather! Just enjoy these wonderful pics!

          • duckles said on 

            It’s sad, when the Republicans have full control they cut taxes, especially for the wealthy as fast as they can. When the Democrats are in full control they spend money as fast as they can. They only time in recent history when we wern’t running a serious deficit was durin the last part of the Clinton adminstration when the Democrats couldn’t spend because the Republicans had enough power to block them and the Republicans couldn’t cut taxes because the Democratic president wouldn’t let them.
            That being said, the financial bailouts were necessary or the entire economy could have crashed which would probably have caused a worldwide economic depression. The regulations or lack of oversight that caused that crash should be laid at the feet of the Bush administration. It’s human nature to be greedy and the people who made the mess were only interested in enriching themselves and didn’t consider what the long term repercussions of their actions might be.
            As for healthcare, this nation spends more and gets less results for it’s money than any other first world economy. We are far overdue for an overhaul of the system. Many people don’t realize that Republicans once advocated changes towards that goal but the Democrats blocked them because they felt that they didn’t go far enough. Senator Kennedy was once reported to have said that the Democrats missed the boat then and should have agreed because once started down the road, it gets easier to make small changes that continue to evolve the system.
            Like it or not, we need more taxes, less spending and have to get started on healthcare and social security fixes. Do any of you realize that Social Security taxable income has an annual cap that changes with inflation? If the cap were removed and ALL earned income was subject to the tax most of the pending deficit in the Social Security Fund would be removed. Oh, to be fair I would support an increase in the maximum Social Security payout for those paying the increased taxes. That would mean that more other fixes would be needed but they would be a lot smaller in size. As for healthcare, The best system I know of would be to model healthcare nationally like Kaiser Permanente, the Non-Profit Healthcare HMO. I would expect that a few state of the art private hospitals would remain, serving the super wealthy for whoom cost is unimportant.

      • mike Davis said on 

        Definitely is political. It’s too bad you brought politics into what is a very good story .

        • said on 

          Photography only brings in what is there that so many people turn away from in reality. Once exposed on a hard copy, it’s too hard to deny. Unfortunately, the politics were there long before the ships were….Regardless of ‘who’ or ‘what’ has played or not played a part in the neglect or restoration of these ships or many other issues that should be addressed, the fact stll remains that until the people accept their parts in the bigger picture, if nothing changes, nothing changes. Had there been no mention of politics in this article, it still looms as heavy as the ships the photos are of. Reality bites…..

    • Jim said on 

      You know leftists – they have to blame EVERYTHING on repubs, regardless of the facts:

      Fact: Clinton benefited from a period of peace and sat on huge budget surpluses for much of his admin (provided by a replublican congress) and did NOTHING about this rotting mess.

      Fact: American was attacked a few months after Bush took office and he was forced to take this nation into a massive and expensive global war to fight the terrorist bastards murdering innocent Americans here and abroad by the thousands.

      Obvious conclusion to a leftist: so whose fault is it? Bush!!!

      I gave up trying to reason with bubble headed artist types many years ago and learned to just enjoy their craft.

      Beautiful pictures, great plan, well executed.

      Good job on the pictures guys – you’ve captured a bit of history just in the nick of time.

      • Conrad said on 

        I agree that the photography is incredible! The writings of your escapades adds life to the photography. Scott, you guys are awesome!

        Good comments, Jim, until you state “Fact: …Bush was forced to…” initiate the ‘War on Terror’.

        There was absolutely no Boeing-757 wreckage at Shanksville, PA, …and the Pentagon. No aircraft parts, no engines, no luggage strewn about, and no bodies… according the photos by the news crews that arrived with and after the first-responders. This phenomena has never before, or since, occurred related to a land-crash of a commercial aircraft. Even a small jet fighter like an F-16, they always find the engine.

        It is undisputable that the Twin Towers were hit by 757′s. However, they fell at free-fall speed, which is only possible with controlled-demolition. Collapse from a catastrophic structural failure is always slower, and it’s very very seldom so tidy.

        Yes, America was attacked by terrorists… within our own government. Bin Laden stated after 9-11-01 that he had nothing to do with it. Hey, America can’t lead the New World Order without a strong military/industrial complex. And the people in Washington can’t control the peasants in this country without the intrusions on privacy and our persons that have been ‘legalized.’

        • Jim said on 

          Conrad, you type well for a man staring at his screen though a couple tiny holes in a tin-foil hat. Congratulations!

        • ItWasThere said on 

          So, my friend’s husband who had to walk past the plane fuselage to get out of the pentagon was just imagining it then? Wow!

          • AngryGuy said on 

            You’ll never convince him that real facts don’t support his theory. Imagine millions of tons falling as a building collapses, now ask why after it gets going why wouldn’t it fall at “free fall” speed? Duh, it was “freely” falling, but don’t sweat that, it’s just common sense.

          • ulie!! said on 

            yeah ummm sure, the fuselage stayed intact after colliding with 5 foot thick concrete walls through multiple layers….common sense is on who’s side? you know planes are made out of aluminum right?

      • Jason Randolph said on 

        FACT: I’m a republican.
        FACT: Bush drug us into a war in Iraq on falsified evidence killing thousands of servicemen/women and maiming/disabling tens of thousands of servicemen/women in the process because his administration had no exit plan.
        FACT: Bush neglected the war in Afghanistan which killed/maimed/crippled even more servicemen/women.
        FACT: Bush allowed the US economy to crawl along post Sept 11th on the Housing Market until it too collapsed.
        FACT: Bush’s advisers had drawn up plans to invade Iraq before Bush was even elected.
        FACT: Bush deliberately suppressed EPA reports recommendations and concerns.

        Look, I applaud Bush for his work on curbing the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Africa. Hell I even voted to put him in to office the first term and I’m ashamed that I did so.

        I don’t believe he was the devil, but I do believe that he was maliciously negligent in running our country.

        • Jim said on 

          Jason, you sound like a thoughtful person, so let me give you the perspective of a man who served 21 years in the US military through three wars – two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. I was compelled to stare evil in the face and know beyond the shadow of any doubt that my friends who fought and died in those wars weren’t stupid dupes led to war by some crazy cowboy. They, like me, saw the danger faced by all free peoples by the monsters running loose and mulitplying in those cesspools. The ships that these brave photographers have documented for us here are fading echoes of previous struggles gainst murderous tyrants. I, like you, am working in my own way for the day that men can stop investing such precious treasure in instruments of war or stop shedding the sacred blood of free Americans on foreign shores in defense of liberty, not only for ourselves, but also for our posterity. However, like all the brave folks who served on these ships and in spite of my advancing years, my oath to you and to all Americans is to be ever vigilant and prepared to take up arms against those who would take that liberty away. I don’t have to rely on mischaracterisations in academia and the press since I’ve seen the evidence with my own eyes. Sadam and the Taliban were preparing to do just that. In an era of nuke and bio weapons, ubiquitous ICBM technology and cyber warfare, the margin for error is very small indeed and the window for effective action close very quickly before delay turns into tragic loss.

          These ships hearken to a bygone era when we could see conflict coming from a great distance and wars were planned and prepared for many months and years in advance. Those days are gone forever. The environmental damage wrecked by these old ships is part of that heavy price of freedom and I’m as glad as anyone here it’s finally getting cleaned up.

          I know it’s fashionable on the left (including the republican left) to find fault in Bush for being the first president compelled to struggle with how best to defend liberty in an era of nuclear, bio and cyber-powered terrorism, but I for one give him credit for be a bold leader in an exceptionally difficult world of accelerating change and rapidly emerging technologies producing prompt and existential threats. I saw unspeakable the evil he lead us against, and won’t profane this thread by documenting it here. I for one know we did the right thing and our children will be free to marvel at these great pictures and contemplate the history they represent because of the sacrifice of our troops in these wars.

          If we are goign to survive as a people, we’ll have to learn to get past the partisan sniping and to unite behind the defense of liberty when the need comes. You’re 100% correct we maintained and continue to maintain detailed plans to fight wars in many potential theaters all over the world, including plans to return to Iraq. We would be negligent to do otherwise. I’m sorry you’ve fallen victim to the myth of “falsified” evidence, since the press today is willfully misconstruing imperfect and conflicting intel as lies. The truth is, the need to deal with Sadam wasn’t as urgent as the intel lead us to believe (I was an intel officer during this period), but the evidence uncovered after the war indicated threat was nevertheless very real and growing rapidly. We did do the right thing and the world is a safer place because of our action and sacrifice there, just like it is for the dirty business these ships and crews had to take care of during their service.

          • SRSLY said on 

            Not even brain damaged children are as naive, trusting, and foolish as this. The Cheney doctrine ensured that any justification at all, real or not, was good enough to commit war crimes including war for profit-profits that went directly to Cheney, to Bush supporters and cronies, and big time Republican donors. Billions of dollars literally were airlifted into Iraq only to disappear with no accounting of where it went. We dropped bombs and fired artillery at innocent people repeatedly, then tossed it off as “blowing up hadjis” and so on. Operation Iraqi Liberation was a farce perpetrated by criminals empowered by corrupt Supreme Court Justices who owed their sinecures to W’s daddy. Obama is too big a chicken to investigate and prosecute these war crimes, which include torture and murder of children in military custody, in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan. We have looked for terrorists and found ourselves staring in the mirror at a monster that blindly lashes out and murders people for money. We are a nation run by gangsters, a nation of accomplices. We built Saddam Hussein up just as we built up Gaddafi and hundreds of other tyrants great and small, and we can replace them with new tyrants whenever they stop playing ball. General Smedley Butler, USMC, put it all out when he wrote that war is a racket, writing about his career of invading countries that refused to knuckle under to our business interests-Brown Brothers Harriman, where the Bush family made its money working for the Nazi regime, as a prime example.

            The photos are great. It is a shame that in a supposedly free country you can’t just go do your thing, but maybe the ninja thing is more fun anyway.

          • Dean said on 

   I’m sure, you are an idiot (paranoid as well).

          • JAMES said on 

            Thank you for serving our country, and seeing first hand what is being done in Iraq. I think your comment in this topic is a valid one, and not the comments that others are making as they search the interent for some points to copy and paste. Im sure more then half the people here have no background to make these bush/obama hate remarks.

          • Jon said on 

            It’s interesting that these knee jerk liberial have to take a swipe at Bush at every turn. They are so brain washed that there is no point in trying to talk to them. The ships have been rusting away for all these years and its all because Bush didn’t take an intrest in them? Is this what passes for reasoning among these people?

            Thank you for your service Jim, and realize that there are still some people out here in reality land that appreciate what you and others have done to make the world a better and safer place.

          • kathy said on 

            while I lived in Germany with my husband who was serving in the Army I remember hearing Saddam stormed a Kuwaiti hospital killing all the infants that had just been born??? And this man didnt deserve to be taken out??? But I hear people whining because we dont do more to help Libya and Syria and all of those nations??? Also before the towers where bombed the world was astounded that the US was so prude in worrying about Clinton and Monica Lewinsky….we were so worried about that that we totally missed all the clues leading up to the terrorist attack that took place on American soil which my history teacher in high school told me would never happen…he was wrong and americans get dumber every year….opening ourselves up to the things that will destroy us.

          • duckles said on 

            You realize that Sadam was supported for many years by the US. Yes, he was a dictator but his formost enemy was Syria. Since we were unhappy with Syria we supported Sadam as a counterbalance. He may have been developing weapons but he wasn’t planning to use them against us. His base of support in Iraq was actually a minority group, so to keep control he had to repress the majority, a situation that never ends well.

        • Darin said on 

          FACT- President Clinton received the authorization to oust Saddam Hussein before Bush ever ran for president!

      • Dean said on  sound like an idiot.

        • Robert said on 

          Dean I hope you realize you are addressing a man that has signed his life away to defending the very right that you have to talk on here as such. Everyone hates the police till their own house is threatened. Also no one knows the threat until they have actually faced it. People like you are the ones that led America into waiting until Hitler became big enough to kill many more thousands of our servicemen before we did anything to stop him. That is the trouble with averting catastrophe, none ever realizes what could have happened. Just say someone had arrested all those terrorist before they entered those planes. No one would have seen the tragedy that was 9-11. We also would have been called paranoid if we had acted earlier but at least 2000 people would still be alive even as we are taking your crap about being paranoid. Anyways I think the idiots are those with their heads in the sand pretending there is no threat to our way of life. Me hopes that if the next attack comes it is at least close enough to you that you realize that, yes there are enemies out there who live to do us the US citizen harm.

          • BAHAHA said on 

            Are you mad? Have you any idea how many thousands of innocent people have been murdered by your country in Iraq/Afghanistan? But that doesn’t matter , does it? it’s just collateral fucking damage. Cunt

      • Darin said on 

        FACT- President Bush had a democratic majority in congress and they did nothing about it!

        • Robert said on 

          bashing Bush, so all of sudden ships showed up while he was prez, hmm, what happened before he got in office, there was any or what.

    • Rick said on 

      Can you tell ANYONE just one DECENT thing george hitler ever did? Just one? Leave the politics garbage out of this, the gentlemen did an outstanding job and for you to deface such a wonderful work of art with the scum bag is a travisesty !

      • Kenneth said on 

        Let’s start with 52 months of economic growth, until the democrats took over both sides of Congress. Now, for all you that complain that Bush got us into war with Iraq because of falsified intelligence about WMD’s. Here are statements from your democrat leaders before Bush got into office and afterwards. Read and weep:
        “One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line.”
        –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998

        “If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction program.”
        –President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998

        “Iraq is a long way from [here], but what happens there matters a great deal here. For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us or our allies is the greatest security threat we face.”
        –Madeline Albright, Feb 18, 1998

        “He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983.”
        –Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998

        “Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.”
        -Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998

        “We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country.”
        – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

        “Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.”
        – Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002

        “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.”
        – Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002

        “The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons…”
        – Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002

        “I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force — if necessary — to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.”
        – Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002

        And yes I did serve for 21 years in the Navy. Hated the pictures of the old ships, their legacy will go on until the last sailor that served upon them is gone…

        • netprophet said on 

          “FACT: Bush drug us into a war in Iraq on falsified evidence killing thousands of servicemen/women and maiming/disabling tens of thousands of servicemen/women in the process because his administration had no exit plan.”

          Question: Then why did Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry vote WITH Bush?
          Question: Then why did 18 other nations, who were also looking at the same evidence also “drag” us into Iraq?

          There is a difference between looking at evidence and purposely falsifying it versus looking at evidence that no one knew was wrong thereby drawing wrong conclusions.

          FACT: You cannot blame Bush without also blaming Biden, Clinton and Kerry. You cannot blame Bush without also blaming the heads of state in Germany, England, Australia and 15 other countries. They were all looking at the same evidence.

          • BAHAHA said on 

            Because America bullied them into tagging along. Why are there no Russians/French/Chinese/Turks in Iraq/Afghanistan? Because they are the 4 countries along with the US that are the actual super countries. America wouldn’t dare bullying those four countries.

            US took Iraq for the oil, Afghanistan poppy (heroine) production rised by NINETY FIVE PERCENT after US took control. Now there are coups in the middle east, ghaddaffis gold reserves are being jacked by the US because your country is broke as fuck.

    • tom myers said on 

      bush talked out of both sides of his mouth. we’ll see if obama does anything.

    • melo said on 

      My sentiments exactly. I had to do the eyeroll when I read the routine “blame Bush” line and just waited until the Obama line came up. We are dealing with SF liberals of course. Clinton didn’t do anything either. Neither did Nancy Pelosi when she was Speaker of the House.

      Politics aside, great photos and a thrilling story. Good job.

      • Sarah said on 

        These pictures were awesome. I wish the ships weren’t so hazardous to the environment; they’re a piece of history that I don’t want to see destroyed. I would just rather see them destroyed than see the bay destroyed. It’s too bad that the people looking at these pictures can’t simply appreciate them but have to start a political sniping war that pisses everyone off and accomplishes nothing. Next time, say nothing about politics so the members of the audience don’t start screeching at one another.

        • Emily said on 

          The author brought politics into it, which pissed people off because he chose to make it political instead of just leaving it at a fascinating story. that’s a shame.

      • Emily said on 

        i rolled my eyes too. LOL.

    • Evan said on 

      I agree…did u really need to bring Bush into the story??? As president, he can’t be responsible for EVERY little problem in the country. There are a lot more important things that required his attention than a few rusting ships. He has been outta office for over 2 years and liberals like this guy are still blaming him for anything that they can think of!! Give it a rest. Don’t worry, now that the savior is in office all our problems, no matter how insignificant will be fixed!!! No need to get political in a story like this. BTW, you’ve just posted evidence of ur own crime all over the internet…u better hope somebody with authority in that area doesnt get a hold of it, or u may b in trouble.

      • Dean said on 

        Bush screwed up Texas and then he screwed up the country. Glad he’s gone..but look at the costs your countrymen (repukes and demos) are still paying..paid attention to the economy lately?

        • Angel said on 

          Yeah, Dean, I have to hand it to Bush for “screwing up Texas”, and in fact I wish we could get him to come to California and “screw it up” like Texas. In the last couple of days I have heard two different stories on the news about how the majority of the new jobs in the US have been created in Texas because of their good business environment, and in fact many of those jobs are in companies that used to be in California and were forced out by the oppressive taxation and regulation. Add that to the fact that Texas doesn’t have a personal income tax, like California and it’s looking more and more like time to abandon the rusting economic ship that is California. Yeah, gotta hand it to ole’ Bush, he sure screwed things up, by golly! Let’s just see how Jerry Brown saves the day for us, eh?

    • Kieran4 said on 

      Try reading the copy, you won’t need to ask dumb questions.

      • thorn said on 

        dean, your insight is top notch. all you have done is call people names. what exactly has obama done? bowed down to leaders of foreign countries, worked on his short game, been lucky enough to not have the majority of the media report on his outlandish vacations and personal spending (which we are footing the bill for), blame bush admin for his first two years, and campaign for the remaining 2 years. check yourself or go f*ck yourself. oh, and i rolled my eyes, too. couldn’t wait to get to the comments….

    • jenni said on 

      yes i agree why should BUSH be blamed, the ships were there long before bush were they not so why should it fall just on him how about CLINTON… and BUSH SR. and REAGAN. AND WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE OTHER PRESIDENTS…… yea these ships may have been in Desert Storm but why does that mean that only the presidents since that war should be responsible. since WWII presidents should have made a plan for these ships that should have lasted forever the plan should have been reveiwed as each new president was elected/reelected … And they should have been kept up with so that we would not have to reproduce more ships, they were made to last and if they had been kept up with instead of our tax dollars going to useless stuff then they would be able to be ready for use at anytime………

      I think you guys have done a great thing taking pictures of these ships, in order to preserve the history of these ships, they fought in great wars. WWII being my favorite to learn about and i have done alot of study on. Thank yall for taking the chances and risks that you took just to get pictures of something so special to OUR history…

    • proudliberal1947 said on 

      The WAR CRIMINAL and TURD bush deserves all the blame, as the corporate approved Supreme Court APPOINTED and BALLOT BOX fixed most incompetent president to have ever tried to run this country. He is a bumbling fumbling MORON that should be taken to the south forty and be completely eliminated both for the good of humanity and this Country.

      As for the ELECTED President Obama, he INHERITED this mess and has been working with the Anti American TURD republican DO NOTHING party since he has been in office.

      So I say three cheers for the ELECTED President and curses and condemnation and insults for the TURD WAR CRIMINAL bush.

      • Steve said on 

        Yeah turd criminal obama spending blah blah.You guys crack me up!!.It is about 2% of invisible people (Illuminati) that do it all right in our backside.Try a little research and the history will crystallize before you.The party distinctions are only a magicians distraction of the masses.IF we were to actually wake up and reprise our tormentors things might actually change.Sadly I doubt it.By the way ,I am neither demo or repub,I am communist.U.S. Navy 1974-1980 HT2.

    • Brad said on 

      why does Bush get the blame? where have you been? Ever since Obama’s been in office, Bush got the blame for everything including some things he wasnt even in office for. Not bad for a man who’s greatest achievment was getting elected. Great pictures by the way. love to see more!

    • Scott said on 

      Paul, you’re reply about losing credibility over mention Obama just proves how ignorant you are to begin with. I’m sure you’ll be a Romney Voter and also most likely loved his “Keep America American” Slogan that was adopted by the KKK back in the 20s.

      • Steve said on 

        ACTUALLY, speaking of ignorant…. Romney said in a speech that he wanted to “keep America America” and the liberal media reported it as “keep America American”. Then, after they were caught, tried to apologize for the “mistake” (yeah right). The Romney slogan was “Believe in America” which was also used by John Kerry in his failed presidential campaign. Come on people! Check things out for yourself and don’t believe something just because you heard it on news!

  8. ken said on 

    first of all cool and great pics. my grandfather was on these ships in wwII. every time we fish near them i look at them and it always reminds me of him. but question now that you have the pics and its on the net does it mean that you guys are free and clear of getting charge for any crime ?

  9. Fred Facker said on 

    Part of me thinks they knew you were there the entire time, just didn’t want to deal with it. The last spotlighting incident sounds like the security boat was having a discussion whether they wanted to have to deal with writing it all up.

    Very nice shots.

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      I think it’s likely they saw us in their search light…but I don’t think they knew we were out there all weekend. The paperwork theory is definitely one idea we thought of. Could also be that they didn’t realize we just came off the ships…

      • Rowyn said on 

        Yes — if you were reasonably close to the perimeter, they probably figured you’d strayed in by accident, or maybe were sightseeing and came too close, and didn’t figure they needed to hassle you over it.

        Nice pics!

    • Jason said on 

      Undoubtedly they saw you. They probably accessed the risk you guys posed and then decided there was little point in messing with you. They are guarding a fleet of decaying ships after all. Good on them for not being jerks and good on you guys for documenting this reminent of another era.

  10. Fred Facker said on 

    What was that Sea Shadow thing?

  11. Pingback: Inside the Ghost Ships of the Mothball Fleet | Maszman Speaks!

  12. Bob said on 

    /nod @ Paul – You lost me at the President Bush slight… Cool story & pics otherwise tainted by your politics.

    • Murphy's Law said on 

      Ditto. When you get partisan, you risk turning off half of your potential audience no matter which side you choose.

      • Beau said on 

        How is stating fact a partisan thing? Yikes. You’re on the internet, use Google, factual issues can be looked up quite easily these days. Talk about partisan.

        • Matt N said on 

          My career these past 15 years has been in sales or sales training. In class we talk about how almost everthing we buy is biased towards our emotion first and then our brain, or, “People buy on emotion and justify with logic or reason.”

          In politics it is the same way; politicians ARE selling something. The best orators (such as Reagan and Obama) know this, do it very well and move the populace thusly.

          Factually the author is correct, as far as the media will report it; Bush gets the blame. However, others have pointed out that the ships have been there for years (factually correct as well) and it is simple posturing to express that Bush deserves the fault. Clinton could have done something too. It just was not politicially necessary for him to make the call. Nor would the left make an issue of the ships during a “left wing” presidency. Far better to make the issue about the ships during a “right wing” presidency like Bush.

          Personally, I am glad the ships are being retired, either as artifical reefs or as scrap metal for reuse. They have been a blight on the “landscape” for years.

        • Kenneth said on 

          Really? Look at my comments above, facts with articles, and dates, where are yours?

        • FireBrand said on 

          So politics aside for a moment. There is a good reason these ships weren’t moved. The government during the Bush years was held to a higher standard than Clinton and others on the environmental issues. So there were a few rules or laws put in place concerning how you could dispose of these. Side note to you guys, hope you were wearing masks all of the time you walked through ticking timebombs full of asbestos and other toxic breathable materials.

          Used to be they just took these things out used them for target practice, or sent them to India to scrap out. Most of this was done at little cost to taxpayers (the ultimate responsible body). With the new rules, due to the toxic materials the government had to find places that would use the proper tools and methods for scrapping a hulk that had all of that toxic material in it. NOTE: shipping companies still beach their ships on the coast of India for scrapping.

          So Bush, Clinton left right, doesn’t matter. The rules changed for the better during Bush on how and where you could dispose of these. There was an uproar on a ship going to the UK back during Bush, but that was one of the places that could dismantle the thing safely. By the way it went from near zero (give it away or get some contractor to pay for the ship) to nearly 10M dollars per ship.

          I don’t have the time to go look up all of this. I am not writing a thesis for you all to pull apart. Go look it up yourself. The reality is that Environmentalists pushed for new rules regarding the disposal of asbestos and other materials (A good thing even to my slightly right view), but then to turn around and blame an administration for the faults of other administrations is rather interesting.

          Sure Bush got sued. But where were all of the lawsuits during Clinton years? Or for that matter Johnson, Nixon, etc.. This has been an issue for a long time. And of course the disposal rate slowed down during Bush, they had new rules to contend with, and those are still in effect.

          Anyway, truth be told, the photos are better with the story of how they were taken and what they saw than the political statements. If you want to be political then put up some raw data, show how many of these were disposed of during each administration, and what the cost of that was for each administration. That would show what a real problem this is for all of us.

          From my way of thinking EVERY administration has a hand in this. And we the people have a hand in not pushing this issue harder and earlier.

      • David said on 

        Yea, we wouldn’t want facts to get in the way of our opinions. That might require critical thinking.

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  14. Grant said on 

    Do you mind if we use a few photos and link back to your project over at

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  16. H said on 

    This is amazing!! Awesome that you guys have the balls to do this sort of adventuring :)

  17. DaTruth said on 

    As usual these days, nonsensical liberal claptrap gets in the way of reality. Here’s the REAL story about this fleet in this location:

    But hey, never let “DaTruth” get in the way of political spin, no?

    • Paul said on 

      Yeah, because the article you referenced wasn’t biased at all. If you are going to criticize someone for promoting their political agenda, try to reference an article that isn’t so clearly biased toward your own views.

      What does it matter anyway? If you are so ridiculously shallow that you have to make a statement like “you lost credibility because you stated a fact I disagree with”, stop participating in forums.

      Awesome photos.

      • FireBrand said on 

        That article was put out by the authority responsible for what’s going on. But it’s also the government, and it’s still up during the Obama administration. So doesn’t that reflect the presidents views as well?

        Just a thought.

        Wake up and Smell the Coffee..

  18. paul said on 

    fascinating shots/background story. thanks for sharing.

  19. Lisa said on 

    great shots, great story!

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  21. Christo said on 

    Fun stuff. Thanks for sharing. I could not help myself and had to look at a satellite view.

  22. Daniel said on 

    I have just one question, Where and How the hell did you get the pics of the Sea Shadow. That is our first Stealth ship and as far as I knew it was still a test bed. A friend of mine and I were amazed to see pics of it here on your site. It looked like it was in some kind of dry dock, can you give us some more info on where you saw that? Did you make it inside of it? Everything you had was amazing.

    • Blake said on 

      The stealth ship Sea Shadow is inside the HMB-1 which is the same barge that was used with the Glomar Explorer in attempt to raise a sunken Russian submarine. The Shadow was built inside this barge in the 1980s in Redwood City (in the SF Bay Area), CA. They would tow this barge (with Sea Shadow inside) out on the bay at night for testing. The whole shebang was then moved to San Diego and then recently showed-up at the mothball fleet. I travel the Benicia Bridge often and still see the barge (knowing thanks to these photographers that the Shadow is still inside) docked on the side of one of the rows of ships and closest to the shore.

  23. John Vantine said on 

    This is awesome. The photos are obviously cool, but the story of your seemingly narrow escape made it much cooler. I’m glad I took the time to read this.

  24. Winston said on 

    I think its incredible that you stumbled upon our only stealth ship, the Sea Shadow. Its just tucked away, not talked about or advertised, top notch technology just stored in a dying ship. Thats amazing that you got to see it. I would have busted that master lock off so fast. Theres probably less than a handful of people who have had the privilege of seeing the interior.

    • Tim said on 

      The Sea Shadow was the topic of a Huell Howser program (can’t remember which of his multitudinous title it was for) with extensive views of the inside, the outside, the bridge, and running around San Diego bay. That’s out there for you Sea Shadow fans.

  25. robt said on 

    Nice job. A type of “urban archeology” I never would’ve thought of.

    As far as you “getting caught” by security, my guess is as long as you didn’t wave your arms in an SOS fashion or have a raft full of ship souvenirs, then they really had no reason to make contact with you.

    I’ve been on board one of the ships out there and I can tell you they wouldn’t bother with alarm sensors. That would be a monumental and expensive task to rig up for the relatively low likelihood of trespassers.

  26. Mary said on 

    I’m curious, did you or any members of your team experience any supernatural phenomenons while on the ships? :)

  27. well said on 

    You could have probably gotten permission to do this… like this person did:

    But then it would not have been as thrilling, or made such a cool story. Are you afraid that you might be tracked down now?

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  29. Nicky H said on 

    Those are awesome. I grew up near there and rode a boat out to them once. I wish I had been interested in photography then. These are amazing- I’ve never seen pics of inside any of them before. TFS.

  30. allen said on 

    It would have been cool if you guys would have got pics inside the Sea Shadow

  31. Sven F. said on 

    Wow, this is truly epic, what a tour, what a report and great photos.
    Deepest respect!

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  34. Rich P. said on 

    These guys breaking and entering into the ships have temporarily eliminated museum access to Susuin Bay Reserve Fleet. Did you try to asking MARAD nicely before you broke in? Groups have asked and been given permission for photography in the past, you probably had a pretty good chance of safe and legal access to the ships. Did you ever meet and get to know the really helpful bureaucrats that run SBRF? I have worked with them as a museum ship volunteer since 1992 and know these guys really care about their community and try to do everything they can under the law to help outside groups. They are proud of the many non-profits (not just museums) that have recovered equipment, blankets, kitchen gear, etc. that is reused throughout during emergencies across the country. Millions of dollars a year of equipment is recovered from these ships before scrapping.

    As a result of this blog MARAD has stopped all ship visits for museums until they can re-secure every door and hatch on all the ships. They are going to change the way we work on the ships requiring more escort labor that is already in short supply. They will spend more of their limited budget on security patrols and less on taking care of the ships. All of this is bad news for the museums and other non-profits at a time when the WW II and Korean era ships are being moved out for scrapping at a very fast pace. Museums will loose the opportunity to recover valuable equipment forever so these guys could have fun. The photos are beautiful, the photographers had a great adventure, but they came at a very high cost to others. We are all thankful that they did not fall in an unsecured hole, or bad ladder. Legit trips to do photography, and they have approved these often in the past, are likely to be harder to come by.

    rich p.

    • Jon Haeber said on 

      #1: We were not “BREAKING” at all. We never broke a single thing. To claim that we did so is disingenuous and misleading.
      #2: Given the exigency of the moment (i.e. the ships were being dismantled and leaving), we knew that bureaucratic channels would be much too slow, restrictive, and ineffective at accurately and fully capturing the nooks and crannies of these ships. We are proud of what we did, because the vast majority of the ships we photographed are now gone, being melted away in Beaumont or Vallejo. You admit the photos are beautiful; I’m glad you admit that because it was our intention to communicate the beauty of these ships to the general public.
      #3: We sincerely apologize for the unintentional effect we had on historic-minded organizations. I’m a scholar of History myself, so it really saddens me to see the consequences it had on organizations like the USS Hornet museum. We truly are sorry, because our motivations are the same as yours: We’d like to tell the story of these amazing ships. We’re truly sorry we had to go to these measures in order to do so, and know that we only did it with the best of intentions.

      • Rich P. said on 


        1- I did not mean to imply that you where cutting the locks or breaking things in the ship. I meant breaking their rules. Sorry.

        2- Actually, talking to Joe Pecoraro the superintendent up there might have been much quicker and easier than you thought. I have been a volunteer on USS Pampanito ( since 1992 and I visit SBRF recovering equipment a few times a year. Within the scope of some pretty reasonable rules they have been very cooperative in the past and not just with museum groups.

        I not only admit, I really appreciate that you are a great photographer and the images are beautiful. I also appreciate the beauty found in industrial settings. For example, I have worked with another great photographer Bruce Ecker to shoot panos in many interesting places. One of them is inside the reactor containment vessel of the NS Savannah ( We got access by asking MARAD nicely and being patient. The access required a lot of work by MARAD employers and nuclear safety contractors. They did this out of love for their mission and of historic ships. FYI, Bruce has arranged access in an amazing array of normally closed to the public spaces, almost always for free by just asking nicely (

        3- If you are interested in shooting on Pampanito some day, please contact me and I will meet you and give you a tour, no rubber dinghy required.


        • Scott Haefner said on 

          Hi Rich,

          I want to echo Jon’s statements. I am also truly sorry that our trips aboard the fleet inadvertently led to access being restricted to the USS Hornet Museum, et. al. while MARAD addresses the situation. It’s unfortunate that our actions are adversely affecting other innocent groups.

          As Jon said, we are historians (and artists) and do this because we love these sites and we want to document them before it’s too late. I will admit I have other motives as well…like adventure seeking and creating fine art photos, but I genuinely think it’s important to record these marvels now, before they’re melted into scrap heaps.

          Unfortunately, I don’t think we could have gotten the same unfettered access going through official channels, especially given our desire to capture the mystery of the ships under the full moon’s glow at night, which eliminates harsh daytime lighting and creates more visually compelling images.

          • Sebastian said on 

            You really can’t know what the official reaction to the request would have been since you don’t seem to have tried.

            I do have to wonder about how much of these trips were for the archiving of the ships’ interiors and how much was for the thrill of going somewhere not authorized. If find it interesting, for example, that the write up spoke of being “accosted” by the security. I am less familiar with that verb’s use for security staff who are doing their job.

            The photos are lovely. They remind me of time spent on Iowa’s sister ships Wisconsin and Missouri (both of which are now museum ships) and on other now decommissioned ships. But the adventure seems at least as self serving as historical.

        • LC said on 

          Someone please salvage those cool chairs from the Lincoln!

      • Michael Wayne said on 

        You had no intentions other than self-aggrandizement and selling illegal images.
        1) What you did is legally termed breaking and entering; don’t be an ass.
        2) There was no ‘exigency of the moment.’ The peopl truly interested in preserving some of these historic ships are working hard to do so and have been granted reasonable access.
        3) I don’t see you telling the story. The story is there and easy to research, but that wasn’t what you were there for, was it?
        Thanks for messing up access for the rest of us. The words we’re looking for her are reckless and selfish.

    • Angel said on 

      Excellent point, Rich. @ John, stop playing with words. Only someone who’s lived in a cave all of their life doesn’t know that “breaking and entering” refers to entering a structure, or in this case a vessel, without the proper permission, hence, unlawfully. Worse yet you are selling pictures and attempting to profit from it, so get down off that high horse of yours.

    • Aaron said on 

      Well said Rich. It is a shame people get rewarded for selfish criminal behavior.


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  36. Phoenix Hadley said on 

    Wow, I love your work. My Stepfather served two years on the USS Iowa and went to the persian gulf in it before it was decommissioned. I spent a lot of time on that ship as a child. I remember one of the days My stepfather came back from sea in it, It was pouring down rain and by time we made it inside the ship I was soaked to the bone and cold. The one thing that warmed me right up is their baskets full of Battle Chip cookies that they had on hand in the mess hall all of the time. I was also very fortunate to get a little tour of the gun room, where they showed me exactly how they shoot off one of their large cannons, I don’t think they were allowed to do that, but I was 8. Thanks for sharing these pictures and your story.


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  38. Timothy T. Doran said on 

    Philadelphia, and a few other spots are very similar, after George 41 started dismantling the US Military with BRAC that went on for more than 10 years, it was very obvious that 90% of these ships would never see “blue water” again, except as a SINKEX, and the 10% that may be “reactivated” would cost millions each to be made ready for sea.

    Today, it is even less likely that any of the ships with very few exceptions, will be reactivated, if it is not GAS TURBINE POWERED, the US Navy does not want it, and most are HIGH PRESSURE STEAM BOILER. Plus skills for HIGH PRESSURE STEAM BOILER technology have pretty much been “phased out” of the US Navy, so a massive retaining effort would most likely not be undertaken just to activate a few ships, nor are those ships suitable for mostly civilian mariner crewing.

    • Dan said on 

      “George 41 started dismantling the US Military”… REALLY??? I am US Navy Veteran. Back when the ‘web began growing and one could find more and more useful info online, (pre-9/11, you could access a LOT of info that was subsequently locked-down tight). The Navy’s own website had the historical “hull count” of active ships, listed for every year since the early 1800′s. Prez Clinton oversaw the largest reduction in US Navy ships EVER, and the hull count hit the lowest numbers in over 100 years under his “vigilant” watch. He introduced a “Buddy Program”, and was simply handing the keys of state-of-the-art ships to Latin American countries, probably in exchange for hookers and boatloads of cocaine!
      I love the pictures, I hate that the author had to bring politics into the arena. Just like I say about the idiot singers and actors who feel compelled to crusade their political views onstage: “We want to see/hear your work, not your political opinions. We are willing to pay to see you act, hear you sing, marvel at you photography, etc. That is all. Please just do what you do best, and stop with the political BS!!” Hell, you can blame JFK and LBJ for this mess, too!! (Along with Nixon, Ford, Carter…). PLEASE JUST STOP. Take pictures, post pictures, tell about the pictures, and even your adventure obtaining them. Period. Thank you.

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  43. Lynda said on 

    I’m sorry, but what you did was stupid and reckless. Yes, you came out of the experience okay and your pictures are very good. What would have happened if you had become trapped and/or injured? Someone would have had to have risked THEIR life because you were reckless with YOURS. Is a picture worth it? No. I know of which I speak because I am a canine search and rescue handler as well as a photographer. Many times my dog and I are called out to look for some idiot who thought the rules did not apply to them or the guidelines posted were for “someone else.” When publicity is given to stunts like this it only encourages other idiots to do the same.

    • Scott said on 

      Nope Lynda, I am sure none of that crossed his mind. But in addition to the physical hazards, he exposed himself to some very dangerous chemical and biological hazards as well. 10 -15 years when he comes down with asbestosis and mesothelioma, or when the mold’s toxins start destroying neurological tissue and his memory disappears and he can no longer walk, or hold a camera, he can look at his photos and wonder if it was worth it.

      • mfa said on 

        Yup, criminal trespass on gov’t property, then when he gets sick he’ll want us to pay for his health care that is needed as a result of his desire to explore the scene of the “Bush Crimes”. Your buddy Obama may have said he wanted to clean this up but he better move fast – cleanup of stuff like this costs money, I mean real money, and at the rate he’s giving away the taxpayers money there won’t be any left. The state of Kalifornia has run out of cash too – it’s a test bed for liberals to try out policies before going national with them. Once they fail they push the agendas on the national stage. But I guess I’m racist for not liking Zero the Hero (obama to you) and for respecting how Bush responded to the terrorist attacks of 2001. Keep trespassing – sooner or later you’ll find out what the inside of a military jail looks like, and you’ll have plenty of time to document it.

    • Angel said on 

      Well said, Lynda.

  44. Kent said on 

    Lynda, this is what guys do. We crave adventure. As a kid, I used to sneak into the mothballed Naval Ammunition Depot near Charlotte for the same reason: just to know what was there. Another time, playing hooky in a neighbor’s barn, I cut my hand open on a rusty nail and went home crying, expecting a whipping. Mom scolded but understood. Men gotta be men. Wish I could have gone on this one.

    • Lynda said on 

      “This is what guys do.” Seriously. Is that the best you can do? “Crave adventure?” Yes, I know all about you adventure craving fools. I get hauled out of my warm bed in rain and snow, train relentlessly in merciless heat (it’s 104 here today) and ask my dog to do things that those who ‘crave adventure’ would be scared s*******s to do. Yup, as long as you “adventure craving guys” are out there acting a fool I’ll be doing a good business training SAR dogs. Jeesh. I am also a historian, archivist and WWII historian. I agree with previous posters that it is people like you who jeopardize apportunities for others who pursue legal means. I sincerely hope you get your adventurous butt hauled into federal court (yes, you were trespassing on federal property) and go to a federal detention facility. That should be a good adventure for you.

      • Angel said on 

        And, as a nurse, after you get rescued by Lynda, you get to come and see me. Hopefully you won’t end up in the Nuero-care unit on a respirator, with a feeding tube going into your stomach, because you took a fall, and ended up comatose for life.

      • Blake said on 

        Yes, Lynda, we get it, you’re a total badass because of your search and rescue job. You’re also obviously smarter and better than everyone because you get inconvenienced by stupid men all the time.

      • Kris said on 

        Lynda, sounds like you picked the wrong occupation if you don’t like getting out of your warm bed to go rescue others.

    • Michael Wayne said on 

      This is what children do, not “guys.”

      • Narnian said on 

        Guys, not just children, crave adventure. That’s why we like to sit on the couch watching action movies. But there are legitimate outlets for feeding that craving that don’t include breaking the law or putting other lives at risk. There are hundreds of wilderness/ocean guides out there who will push you to your limits while taking you somewhere breathtaking without doing things that almost certainly end up with the coast guard or park rangers flying a helicopter in to rescue you. Or for that matter the police putting you in jail for the night. Even when you’re unemployed there are many wilderness adventures you can do for almost no cost that include the opportunity for spectacular photos and fuel for the thrill-seek without breaking the law or putting someone else in danger or messing things up for the folks who are playing by the rules. I can well appreciate the rush that comes with being where you’re not supposed to be, but nothing is more dissapointing than finding out my favorite trail or camping spot or inlet has now been declared off limits because a few individuals have broken the rules. There are generally good reasons that most places are off limits to the public without going through proper channels.

  45. Scott said on 

    So let me get this straight. You trespassed on Federal property, which is a felony, broke into ships took photos of the insides of these ships, wrote narration about your trespassing and then posted it to the internet. Just how stupid are you? And now that your stupidity has been revealed, you completely eff’d it up for other groups. But not to worry, you already got your pictures (which from another professional photographer, are pretty mediocre), just screw all the other people who DON’T break the law.

    What you did was also incredibly dangerous and reckless. The inside of any ship, especially mothballed ships, is a very dangerous place. Since no one knew you were on those ships, because you entered them illegally, had you or any of your fellow criminals been injured, you may have DIED before help could arrive. You are no doubt aware of a little known property of steel… rusts. And when it rusts it loses structural integrity. Suppose you stepped on a rusted ladder, fell through the ladder through a hatch below it and fell another deck onto sharp, rusted debris. pretty, even for someone from San Francisco. Are you aware that ASBESTOS was used LIBERALLY througout all those old ships? Did you happen to notice all those overheads falling down? Or refractory around pipes falling apart and falling down? How about all that black mold which was everywhere. Do you know what that was? It’s something called Stachybotrys chartarum. And when you inhale the spores (which are airborne all the time, but especially when you and your fellow trespassers walked over the stuff and disturbed it) and they germinate in your lungs (and later your blood), they secrete a deadly neurotoxin which cause irreversable neurological damage. In fact it is such a deadly neurotoxin, it was studied as a viable biological weapon not only by the US but by the Soviets in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Did you ever once think of any of this while you were planning your little illegal “adventure”? Did you ever once think, “hmmm, I wonder if we should wear masks on these old ships, like the workers do……”

    Well congratulations I am glad you got your mediocre photos. But in the process you effed it up for everyone else to follow and exposed yourself to some very dangerous chemicals and biological agents. I hope was worth it. Stupid is as stupid does and you certainly did it.

    • Lynda said on 

      Very well said and accurately detailed. I agree completely.

    • Dr. Frank Rizzo said on 

      First off, may I see the previous posters work, so I am aware of what non-mediocre photos look like. Obviously, because you made the statement that you are a photographer, you are a credible source. Secondly, did you know that warships and submarines were made with galvanized steel? And are you aware of a little known substance called zinc? Zinc protects steel from rust and weakened structural integrity. And mold spores? Mold is in the air you breathe!! While certain molds are toxigenic, meaning they can produce toxins (specifically mycotoxins), the molds themselves are not toxic, or poisonous. Hazards presented by molds that may produce mycotoxins should be considered the same as other common molds which can grow in your house. There is always a little mold everywhere – in the air and on many surfaces. There are very few reports that toxigenic molds found inside homes can cause unique or rare health conditions such as pulmonary hemorrhage or memory loss. These case reports are rare, and a causal link between the presence of the toxigenic mold and these conditions has not been proven.

      That being said I am sure these gentlemen ran into rust and mold, but come on Chicken Little!! The sky is not falling and we are not interested in your hypochondriac worrying Debbie Downer!!

      • Scott said on 

        I spent 10 years on Aircraft carriers as a Naval Aviator. And mild steel is used throughout the ship. The few things made of stainless were usually railings. Brass was also used for a few fittings. That is why ship’s maintenance people are constantly chipping paint and repainting. The sound of pneumatic needle drills chipping paint is a constant, and very annoying, sound on any Navy ship. And I am also degreed microbiologist and I can tell you unequivocally that the toxins (or as you pointed out, mycotoxins) secreted by S. chartarum pose a significant health risk. The neurotoxins produce by chartarum are some of the most potent on the planet. And people in wet climes are at significantly higher risk. And he no doubt inhaled asbestos fibers, since asbestos was also used aboard Navy ships. From the conditions of a lot of the spaces in his photos, I would say the asbestos exposure risk was pretty substantial.

      • Angel said on 

        Then as a Doctor, I am sure that you are aware of the dangers of bird droppings, wich are abundant on old ships like this, and the threat from breathing in asbestos is a very real threat. I had an uncle who died from it after working at the Todd Shipyards in Long Beach CA, for a few decades. The actual cause of death was listed as “asbestosis”.

        • D.G. said on 

          This is to the “Medical geniuses” and “Microbiologist” Know that Mesothelioma comes from years of exposure. second those little microorginisms are always around you, how do you know if they were wearing maskes or not did you ask no. Yes it is unfortunate that it made it harder for others to get access but they did it, now the time has passed and has already been done. Complaining and claiming they are committing felonies is not going to change what they already did. Breaking and entering on civilian and or government property is the same class 3 civil mis. look up any revised statues and you will know that. To the Search and rescue person, bashing people for being reckless and not hiding under a pillow due to some danger is not going to do anything and if it wasn’t for people like them you and the hospitals would truely be out of a job. it sounds to me like you dislike the fact that your job requires you to searche for them, if you don’t like doing search and rescue for those kinds of people which is like 90% then find a new career. Would anyone really curse, and bash someone who goes camping and has a campfire? No, cause thats ok but think about this if that fire doesn’t go out all the way one little amber could start a fire that is devistating to the wildlife and people around it. There is always danger and risks in living life if you hide then nothing is ever found. I leave you with this to ponder in your heads, If our founding fathers and every other person in this country stayed away from danger and unlivable conditions to fight for a new country and freedom from the British would we be a free nation to explore and speak as we wish? Would America still stand or would it be another British Colony? George Washington took great risks, and put his men in very dangerous and unhealthy situations. Risks and danger are always there its up to that person wether or not the rish is worth the reward. To this man the risk were worth the reward.

          • FireBrand said on 

            Risk is always part of life and part of any great endeavor. But PLEASE, to put our founding fathers next to these guys? I doubt that even they would feel comfortable equating their hacking to the founding of a country, that by the way has the wisdom to let things like this go. Had you done this in just about ANY other country you would now be dead. This is akin to spying, and in some Countries the officer coming to pick you up would be authorized to use deadly force.

            But back to risk. There is risk taken that is known and considered brave, then there is risk taken because those taking it were stupid and had no clue. I would put this into the no clue box.

            But that said. I know lots of folks who used to hack buildings when I was younger so this is the ultimate hack. Good for you for not getting caught, be glad that some federal prosecutor isn’t bored and coming after you.

            Wake up and Smell the Coffee…

    • Anon said on 

      Whoever the commenter (self-professed photographer) above is, he’s certainly wrong about trespass on Fed property being a felony. In the worst of cases, it is a petty misdemeanor. Title 18 section 1382.

    • Adrian said on 

      If everyone was like you life would really suck. I don’t know why you are so mad over a health and safety risk that someone ELSE took, i don’t think that the asbestos is going to carry over into your lungs, but I know people like to play the mother figure when posting on anonymous internet blogs.

      I’m glad that some people take risk’s like this, and post them for others to witness, truly amazing. I’m sure I’m not alone in my jealousy for what these urban explorers did. But unfortunately for people like me and Scott here, we can’t all have fun like this. We will just sit at home and Wikipedia things about mold and toxins to rage post on other peoples story’s because we don’t have anything interesting to post of our own. Because we are sad sad internet people with little lives, and it makes us upset when we see what others are doing in the world around us, while were rotting away in front of our computer screens.

      • Geoff said on 

        Selfish jerk! People ARE concerned over what others do to THEIR health because ultimately it costs ALL OF US OUR MONEY to help them, instead of going to more worthwhile endeavors, when the inevitable health problem occurs…and it always does! Then they sue or blame others for not protecting them in the first place…grow up, you hypocritical dweeb!

    • Angel said on 

      I agree as well. And the most infuriating thing about all of this was the smug, superior attitudes that were obvious in the tone of the narrative. You can bash Bush all you want to, I personally think that in spite of his flaws he was a pretty decent President, but the bottom line is, it’s the Congress that controls spending, the Appropriations Comittee. The Congress during the last decade was largely liberal, Democrat controlled. No matter what a President might aspire to do, or have on his wish list, if he doesn’t get the cooperation of the Congress it won’t happen. Think about that before your next political rant.

      • Chloe said on 


        The author mentioned Bush in one sentence in his blog that was obviously about an urbex adventure and wasn’t intended to make a political statement. He said, “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.”

        That’s it. And the comment he made was a fact, not some Bush-bashing rant. The Bush administration (didn’t even say Bush specifically, he said the “administration”) in fact did NOT make any efforts to remove the ships.

    • Jake said on 

      No matter what catastrophic, deadly, accident happened to them while they were criminally trespassing, they would have blamed it on George W. Bush. And all the Terrorist-Lovers and Apologists would have agreed (with posts filled with obscenities, of course.)

  46. Steve Dengler said on 

    I am a former crewmember of the USS Mispillion AO 105, the tanker that is next to the Sea Shadow. Great job on the photos. Wish I could get the chance to go back aboard my ship. Kind of dangerous what you guys did though.

  47. Steve said on 

    Great photos and great job photographing these old warships. I have had the chance to explore dilapidated old structures and even a few ships, but the problem is unlike you I only had an hour or two to get what shots I could, vs you having hours to plan and pick your shots. I can only imagine you took hundreds if not thousands more images than the cream of the crop you posted. Is there any chance I could get the opportunity to see more of them, especially of the equipment and spaces still onboard? Thanks for the huge effort you put into documenting the ships.

  48. Gary said on 

    What a fantastic experience, the photos are stunning.

  49. Pingback: What An Abandoned Ghost Warship Looks Like | Gizmodo Australia

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  51. Vince said on 

    Is it possible for a private citizen to buy one of these ships destined for the scrapyard? Seems like it could be cool to have.

    • Robert said on 

      Yes, and people do. You set up a museum nonprofit, and do exactly what private boat owners do: take on way too much ship. This becomes a slow sad tale of the smart volunteers leaving, maintenance overwhelming you, dockmasters evicting you, ending in a sad day in court. Read all the historic-boat forums and remember: you’re not special.

      OR… start by buying suitable land for an improvised drydock. Move the boat there and get it out of the water. Do that, you win.

  52. Raul Sauceda said on 

    Great photos but do you realize that as much fun as you were having you were breaking the law. There is a reason they have guards there….they don’t want people on the boats. Not only is it dangerous for you to be there but you set a precedent for all the other would be adventures how think it’s cool to do something like this.

  53. nemo said on 

    Reminds me of when my buddy and I busted into queensteamboat in Nola. He’s still got the sign but most all the stuff I got I threw out. Made for a good time. He got word about the heist from some squatters but when we got on board most all the quickgrabs were already taken. It seems like one could argue the point of environmental value versus historic degredation… Just a thought :)

    • Fail troll is Fail said on 

      Fail Troll, you made it too obvious. Nice try though.
      (trying to push the buttons of boat historians; referring to the Delta Queen in New Orleans, LA.)

  54. Keith_Fisher said on 

    Lovely pictures and I’m envious of the adventure you guys had to get to take them. It appeals to me as I love military equipment (a wasted youth building model tanks etc), love industrial decay and post apocalyptic landscapes, and love photography.
    Give me a call on your next adventure please :)

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  56. Maxwell said on 

    You can take a boat there and jump on a boat.
    Hippies are fail


  57. Maxwell said on 

    Oh and Obama should do something about this.
    Maybe if you call him at 3am he will answer his phone.

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  59. Christian said on 

    The Iowa’s (BB-61) sister ships are not destined for a ship breaker. The New Jersey (BB-62) is a museum ship in Camden, New Jersey. The Missouri (BB-63), on which the Instrument of Japanese Surrender was signed, is a museum ship in Pearl Harbor. The Wisconsin (BB-64) is a museum ship in Norfolk, VA.

    Perhaps, though, you were not referring to her sister ships in her class, but the others in the reserve fleet.

  60. Anthony said on 

    Scott and crew… Awesome photography!! I absolutely love it! There is nothing mediocre about it. Thank you for taking the risk to capture and preserve the history and memory of these vessels in a way that I doubt anyone ever has. I envy your and your friends and wish that I had a guts to go out and capture the photos you have.

    Excellent work and never let the stogy nay-sayers (Lynda and Scott) discourage you from preserving history. You guys are truly gifted.

  61. Snooj said on 

    Is there a reason you didn’t seek permission to board the ships? Or were you stonewalled and left that part out of the narrative?

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      I do this type of photography frequently (see: ), and I know from experience that it’s very difficult to get official access most of the time. I am almost certain we’d never have been able to photograph the ships at night going the official route. Having said that, I much prefer photographing with permission because I can fully concentrate on my art without being limited in my use of artificial lighting and without constantly looking over my shoulder.

      • Boatboy said on 

        so . . . that means you didn’t even try I take it?

        Shame, that and by the way, thanks for screwing it up for all the historic ships and related museums nationwide- there are three (3) MARAD facilities that they all salvage from legally (and I might add for free- the “evil” federal guberment allows these folks to board and salvage for no cost) and now, none of them can at any of the facilities for an indeterminent time. Way to go, job well done!

  62. Museum said on 

    Do you realize that you illegally trespassed on US Government property? Why didnt you just ask like every other museum or group that has to? Now museums and other historic entities are being restricted from entry to obtain historic materials for their exhibits.

    I hope you are all prosecuted to the highest extent of the law! Who is to say you were not stealing property as well!

    • Robert said on 

      That’s a fair concern regarding any trespasser, but misplaced in this case. These guys are serious UrbEx’ers, and as a rule, UrbEx’ers have a code that you never steal or vandalize. That code has existed for a long time among those who did it before it was called UrbEx.

      • Boatboy said on 

        “no honor among thieves”
        good thing they have a “code” and all . . .

  63. keet said on 

    wow, ships have been there for well over 30 years, slowly being whittled down in numbers, but yet its Bush’s fault? that is one of the funniest, most narrow-minded things i’ve heard in a while, thanks for the laugh. :)

  64. ARFcom said on 

    What the hippy said about President Bush was correct in regards to the ships and the lawsuits. In defense of President Bush he did not place those ships there in mothballs, he was not responsible for the decades of pollution they may have caused.

    President Bush did not act fast enough to satisfy the groups that brought forth the lawsuits and that’s OK.

    President bush and his administration had to ensure that the removal process would meet all current federal and state laws and regulations before moving forward on the disposal of those ships.

    One only has to look up what happened to ex-military ships the US tried to dispose of back in the 80′s and 90′s.

    Great pictures, urban exploring on the water.


  65. t500hps said on 

    Great article and photos

    I’m on the east coast and we have the same “ghost fleet” just inside Norfolk VA. We boat past/through them nearly every weekend and I’ve always wanted to see the insides.

    Could have done without the political slant and GWB II vs. Obama. In the case of the east coasts “ghost fleet” anyway, years went by with the government triying to get our ghost fleet reduced (from what once several hundred to now about 100). The obsticle……enviromentalist who fought moving them for fear of the enviromental impact OF MOVING THEM.

    • Angel said on 

      Figures. These are the same types who don’t want you to shoo a duck out if it lands in your backyard pool.

  66. Stephen Freskos said on 

    As one of the photographers who put this adventure together with Scott and Jon, I want to say thanks for the praise about the photography. I’m glad we could provide some last images to people who served on these ships, and help share the hidden beauty of these vessels with people who otherwise would not have seen them.
    Some comments about safety, planning, permission etc:
    Permission. We are not a legal “group”, have no associations with official “museums” or historical organizations. We are just citizens. Why does anyone think that MARAD or the federal government would allow us access, as individuals, to take photos at night, roam about the ships and experience them on our own time? This has never been my experience when dealing with government agencies or large institutions. I personally don’t like “guided tours” and limited access, based on what someone else decides to let me see. I am sorry that MARAD’s knee jerk reaction was to cut off access to those with legitimate access.
    Safety and planning. If anybody thinks that we did not consider the risks and dangers associated with this kind of adventure, and plan accordingly, then they are very wrong. We are not novices or drunken frat boys out for some late night hijinks. We are SERIOUS about what we do. There is a reason that we pulled this off without any safety incidents, and it’s not luck. It’s called being careful, having extensive experience in dangerous environments, mitigation of risk, application of common sense and awareness of all dangers present. These were not the first abandoned ships that we’ve explored. These were not the first dangerous, abandoned, falling apart, rusty, moldy, asbestos laden sites we’ve visited. I can guarantee that between the three of us, we’ve visited more locations that have these hazards present, than any search and rescue team out there. There were many long discussions about oxygen deprived spaces such as anchor chain lockers and ballast tanks, there were contingency plans made for injuries, we carried a medical kit, we wore PFDs, and took many other precautions. I am an experienced seaman. I have extensively sailed boats, been to sea for months on large ships, made ocean passages in small sailboats, been a student at a Maritime Academy, been trained in confined spaces, industrial safety and operate in confined spaces with hazardous materials on the job, I regularly deal with asbestos and lead paint on the job, I am trained in marine survival and have been swimming in rough northern CA ocean waters for 20 years etc, etc, and the list goes on. As far as potentially putting an S&R team at risk if we encountered a serious problem: those ships simply aren’t that dangerous! Work crews walk around them every single day! Why is our trip there any different?
    In regards to going public with “illegal” things such as this, I think I speak for the three of us when I say that we are well aware of the consequences, but it’s a passion of ours and it’s worth it. Although the whole idea might be new concept to many of you just learning about our adventures, as the article says, we talked about and planned this for years. I assure you that any concern that anybody might come up with, was previously discussed and addressed by us.

    • Jon Haeber said on 

      Stephen’s eloquent response says everything I’d like to say in response to the criticism.

      • Robert said on 

        Safety: you folks seem to be all about personal responsiblity and you don’t want a nanny-state protecting or forbidding you from the sharp edges that make up the pursuit of happiness. I agree wholeheartedly. And I don’t buy any of that poo about putting SAR in danger. They’ve seen worse and that’s why you went as a team. I even have faith that you put instructions in your will and incapacity documents: “Do not sue anyone over a trespassing related injury”. You win that point.

        Permission: Who’s kidding who. I’ve seen your site. You’ve done dozens if not hundreds of sites and gotten permission for essentially none of them. You’re hardcore UrbEx’ers, and the code says “don’t steal” but it also says “infiltrate”. Well instead of sticking up for that value, you now run for cover behind smarmy self-justifications. “Not a group” 1 2 3, I see a group. Make up a name, done. No Form 1023 required. A photography group, good enough reason to ASK for access to anything. “No associations with official museums” – USS Hornet membership is $50, hi, I’m with the Hornet. “personally don’t like guided tours”, not personal, it’s an UrbEx “code”. So you slip your tourguides or you come back uninvited, much less an offense after you’ve been invited and they know you(r threat level or lack thereof). Photos at night: show them your portfolio, explain painting with light… they’ll get it. You guys are good at that thing. So back to: your excuses are bull, so stop embarrassing yourselves and be honest.

        And your California apology? Just makes things worse. Could you be more smarmy and disingenuous? Seriously, you do the most daring UrbEx ever, and now you’re just coming off like douches. Neither defiant anti-authority types, nor decent want to put things right types. You’re a little late to play the punk, so at this point your best bet is go to MARAD and SINCERELY apologize (like real men) to them, and for the effect you had on other groups, and ask what you can do to put it right. Yes I know who they are, and I’m sure it would shock them as much as it shocks you… that’s why it would probably work :)

        I’m sorry, you guys really screwed up on this one, and it’s time to man up.

        And you know how your ethos is “don’t steal”? Your “don’t get permission” DOES steal. You steal peace of mind. Sure you didn’t take anything, but you fill people with fear that their security is inadequate. I know it was already inadequate. But you expose it, and THAT brings thieves. I realize that asking permission is POLITICAL for you. But consider it 4 ways.

        “There’s pictures all over the web some trespasser took.”
        “Oh hell. Anything stolen?”
        “Don’t know, ask all the groups to check their inventory, I’ll be checking fences and locks all afternoon. Joy.”

        “Thanks for joining. Really? I didn’t think anyone painted with light anymore. Yeah… just have your membership card on you, I’ll let the caretaker know.”

        “Yeah, that guy wanted to take pictures. I escorted him around the property. Smart guy.”

        “Hey, that guy posted his pictures… but … these are night shots.”
        “What the heck? He must’ve snuck back in.”
        “Plain evidence. Should we call the cops?”
        “On that guy? Why bother. He’s no threat.”

        See how each case has different effects? So if you’re gonna take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints… what kind of footprints are you leaving?

        • Sarah said on 

          I personally think what these photographers did was wonderful, and I believe that everyone who has posted rude or negative comments needs to realize that these guys simply don’t care what you have to say. What’s done is done, and they will keep on doing what they enjoy. No amount of ‘trolling’ or complaints are really going to make these guys stop, so why waste your breaths? You are just making yourselves out to look like a bunch of rude people who have nothing better to do than ridicule others over the internet. It seems these guys were prepared and were ready to face what they set out to do.

          That being said, wonderful pictures and this seemed like a truly memorable experience. I am an amateur photographer myself, but I do understand the art and that feeling you get when you really capture something amazing. These images are just that, and there is nothing more enjoyable than doing what makes you happy (within reason, of course). I believe the whole ‘limiting access to the museum’ was a knee jerk of a move (as agreed with the photographers), and whereas I do agree that trespassing isn’t the best thing to do, why punish everyone for something only a few people did? I don’t feel what these photographers did was wrong. It could have been done a better way, yes, but like I said, what’s done is done.

          Great pictures and keep up the great work :)

          • Mark said on 

            Finally a civil post! I came across this article tonight through Yahoo or something, and posted an admiring, even treacly reply. Then I started scrolling backwards through the post…and couldn’t believe the negativity. I decided to start from the top, and your post is the last one before where I had left off. Ironic that the last post I would read would be the most civil. LOL. I just got back from China, a pretty optimistic and non-paranoid place, which has its own downsides of course, like we do, but from all these posts it seems America has gotten pretty dour and cruel. What’s up with viciously putting down another person of late? A lot of these posts seem psychotically vindictive! Yet these photographers seem eloquent, believable, and passionate in their undertaking. You’d think they had a sex and drug orgy and went SCUBA diving on a SUNKEN ship wreck without training or something. At one point, the thought occurred to me that this series of tirades was actually being orchestrated by some group or agency trying to make a political or just mainstream-news fiasco out of it. Even if they made a mistake, big deal. Was it a really big mistake? Like murder or treason or bombing women and children? No. They took photos of scraps of steel that need to be recycled. People may have died at one point near where they were. Big deal. Welcome to Earth. Parts of China…you can just sense where conflict occurred and has not been forgotten. Probably like parts of the American South. Get on with it. They probably would be behind bars if this was China, and this blog blocked. And the whole railing-against-the-environmentalist thing. I came to the conclusion that this is the result of the corporate elite and lobbyists and a reactionary sector of the intelligence community, brainwashing people to fear environmental legislation and funding religious fundamentalism. Its business as usual. Its not a grassroots thing–you don’t see local organizations complaining about their rights to leech toxins into groundwater. Hello. The oceans are 90% fished out, and the military already has little to no environmental accountability. They get approved to kill 12 or 15 million mammals a year in a region of the Pacific not far from CA in their weapons testing, from what I’ve read. Wake up people. We’ve had a financial coup d’etat and it is global. Global, egalitarian environmental ethics is not some imaginary apocalyptic commie plan, its a moral necessity and unavoidable. Commies and capitalists both committed their fair shares of horrors, including on the environment. But I can’t imagine in any possible future Americans rising up and killing a million landlords. That’s impossible in my book, so just be grateful and work together and not be so damn rude and insulting and hateful to each other. Save that for people like Bush and all the other psycopathic politicians who run war like a business. Heck, I think Obama behaves like a white supremacist and thinks Jesus is just a political tool, but I digress.

    • Angel said on 

      So let me get this straight; you think that because you don’t expect to get legal permission granted to you, and you don’t like anyone telling you what you can and can’t do, it’s ok for you to break the rules, because you’re so special? And I like the part about your not getting hurt because you were so “careful” but yet your little raft sprang leaks while you were going across the bay, and what was your plan to handle that?

      • Jeremy said on 

        Um, the author clearly states that they used a pump to keep the raft inflated whilst traversing from the ships back to shore. Obviously not the ideal solution, but it worked well enough to keep the raft afloat long enough to reach safety.

  67. Tom said on 

    Nice pictures, but did you do any research at all when you did the write up for this page?? The USS Iowa’s sister ships are not awaiting scrapping at the breakers! The USS Missouri, USS New Jersey , and USS Wisconsin have all been preserved as museum ships and have been for quite a while. Jeez are you kidding me!

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  69. Greg Bishop said on 

    These 3 individuals, in 5 separate ‘raids’ to the ghost fleet ships, illegally boarded the Battleship U.S.S. Iowa (BB-61). She’s not rusting-away; she even has a complete dehumidification system working full-time, and is visited and maintained regularly. Always under the cover of darkness, they crept around the historic ship taking pictures. The same ship that transported President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, and moored next to the USS Missouri while the Japanese signed the surrender documents ending that terrible war.

    There are thousands of former crewmembers waiting, aching, to be able to board her once again — legally. The Navy Department is expected to decide by July 31, 2011 which group she will be awarded to, to become a floating museum and educational center, and more. I am a supporter of the Pacific Battleship Center , whose plan is to move Iowa to the port of Los Angeles.

    I imagine they went wherever they wished once inside the U.S.S. Iowa. On April 19, 1989, 47 sailors lost their lives in a gun turret explosion aboard this historic ship… to think of the interlopers accessing that hallowed ground is very disturbing. I’m most bothered for the families, who have so clearly expressed their wishes that that area remain off-limits to the public. No matter what you’d say about that, they can never feel confident that you didn’t violate that place where 47 lives ended.

    I’m glad to see some people saw thru the “wow! adventure! outwitted them!” comments here, and took you to task for your selfish actions… I think your reply to one of those comments sums it up…

    “#3: We sincerely apologize for the unintentional effect we had on historic-minded organizations. I’m a scholar of History myself, so it really saddens me to see the consequences it had on organizations like the USS Hornet museum. We truly are sorry, because our motivations are the same as yours: We’d like to tell the story of these amazing ships. We’re truly sorry we had to go to these measures in order to do so, and know that we only did it with the best of intentions.”

    …. I am not convinced your motivation wasn’t history, but thrill-seeking and notiriety; it’s what you do: Sneak into places that are off-limits. Like a thief. Because you stole something from everyone who has served aboard, or has a passion for this, the world’s last battleship awaiting a home. You obviously didn’t even try to do this legally…. AS OTHERS DO. I won’t applaud someone who decided they don’t have to live by the rules we need to have, right along with the freedom we cherish

    • Jon Haeber said on 

      You make blanket assumptions about where we went on the Iowa. Nothing you say is true or credible. We never went near turret #2 and had the utmost respect for the crewmen who died there. We never even went inside of the Iowa. How can you even close your argument with “rules” and “freedom” in the same sentence as if they’re the same thing? Look up the those two words in the dictionary. Rules, by nature, limit freedom. I suppose you’re one who cherishes being told what to do and where to be. To each their own.

      • Anon2 said on 

        Right Jon, we dont believe in trespassing or being told where to be or what to do. We should all break into your house or photo studio and spend as much time as we like. Maybe take a nap on your couch.

        Ignorant statements about being let into the fleet. MARAD has let ship groups photo their ships, local shelters remove mattresses, etc for the poor, Vietnam veteran groups remove historic items, and so on. All that is now in jeopardy for the future.

        Regardless, was it really necessary to attempt to embarass MARAD? That is really what you tried to do here.

        • Scott Haefner said on 

          “Regardless, was it really necessary to attempt to embarass MARAD? That is really what you tried to do here.”

          Really? You seriously believe that our motive was to embarrass MARAD? There have been many false accusations and assumptions opined in the comments here, but this is just ridiculous.

          • Boatboy said on 

            Let me see, you have proven you three are dishonest and cannot be trusted and yet you are trying to convince us that you can be believed in any of your claims?

          • Blake said on 

            Boatboy, where did you come up with them being dishonest? I’m getting a little tired of the assumptions, and irate villifying here of a few guys whose interest is no different than anyone’s visiting this site… We are all here because we are interested in the history of these ships. Why is it so important to some of you to attack these photographers over the means they took to accomplish the job? You’re right… they technically had to break the law to do it (don’t tell me you never got a speeding ticket, etc.). But in this case, I think it was worth it. If you disagree, then perhaps arguing over political details are more important to you than your interest in the ships. 90% of the physical space here in this comments section has been turned into a Bush/Obama debate and I certainly didn’t come here for that!

    • Blake said on 

      Greg, you paint a very vivid picture with your writing. In fact, I think you’d be great at writing novels. But you’re really being a little sneaky here as well and you know it. You’re using your way with words to villify these guys and I’m not buying it. It’s just not right to say some of those things that make these guys out to sound like grave-robbers or something. Their interest in these ships seems as genuine to me as yours and I believe 100% that they meant no disrespect. Like I said below, we’re all here because of one common interest -these ships. And that interest is a beautiful thing. Some come from a military background and some with an anti-war interest… But somehow, we are able to agree on how interesting these ships are. So, Greg, with all due respect, please don’t use your writing skills to bash these guys; we need people like you to bash terrorists and murderers instead.

  70. Nick said on 

    Really interesting series Scott, definitely a once in a lifetime experience. Have you had any officials come calling yet and are you worried that they will now that the story is getting mainstream circulation?

  71. Elon said on 

    You liberal douchebags realize that these ships were put there during Democrat administrations and largely built during Democrat administrations right? Most of you are too ignorant to realize historical timelines.

    • Jared said on 

      You liberal douchebags (sic) realize that these ships were put there during Democrat administrations and largely built during Democrat administrations right? Most of you are too ignorant to realize historical timelines.

      Why must you use name calling and mudslinging when adding to the discussion? The author of this interesting piece, Scott Haefner, simply stated in his narrative (a story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious) that “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.”

      Shortly after the comments started rolling in someone (Paul) stirred up the pot and accused Scott of giving Bush all the blame for the ships leaking hazardous material in the bay. I do not see any blame being assigned by the author but simply a observation that during the Bush years little was done to address the situation, but during Obama’s term progress was made.

      A common accusation that was made during the comments was that the author was “a liberal”, “a Leftie”, “a democrat”, I never noticed that Scott declared his political party, for all we know Scott could be a Republican. A Republican who calls it as he sees it.

      • Dan said on 

        Come on, Jared! Paul stirred the pot? Really?
        “I do not see any blame being assigned by the author but simply a observation that during the Bush years little was done to address the situation…” That isn’t assigning blame??
        As opposed to the Clinton administration, which I am sure did a whole lot about the mess, right?
        Why couldn’t the author have just stopped at something non-polotical/non-polarizing, such as: “Although the ships continued to dwindle down over time, approximately 75 remained throughout the 2000s.” THAT is what pissed off half the readers! The Bush-haters just can’t help but try to toss in a jab every chance they get, legitimate or not. What are they going to do 10-20 years from now? Will they still be taking errant pot-shots at the poor man, even when their own kids & grandkids are wishing they would take up a constructive hobby instead?? Get a life, libs…

  72. Mr. Martini said on 

    Well done and thanks for sharing..!

  73. pbern said on 

    Simply brilliant. Thanks for sharing the photos and the story.

  74. Kemal said on 

    I have read all these comments and you lot slagging these guys off are pathetic. Okay they screwed up access momentarily for others to museum sites but I’m sure it will come back at some point. Their bad. The rest of this dialogue on this page is garbage. Let them do it. They did a good job. They documented it well. The pics are awesome. They aren’t wastoid arseholes looking for a ‘rush’. Piss off back to the holes you came from with your rants and raves and get a life.


  75. Gerhard said on 

    Well done guys, great article and photos! Don’t mind the negative comments, some people are just jealous that you got to do something like this.

  76. Michael Preston said on 

    Beautiful work.

    You’d thibnk that they would have invited you on given the quality of the images but of course that would be out of the question. Pity that some people can’t see the people fail to see the beauty that surrounds them.

    The shots are really great and you should be very proud, it’s a wonderful body of work.

  77. Chris said on 

    Lots of asbestos, mold and other nasty stuff on those old ships. No way I would go on board without a respirator, or at the very least, a paper mask.

    Great photos.

  78. Mark said on 

    I really liked your photos and story of your adventure. For years I have always wondered what it would be like to see all those ships up close. Great job!

  79. HarleyDog said on 

    “Brilliant…daring….wonderful….awesome….pretty….” Are you all kidding? Call it trespassing, dangerous, very likely unhealthy, illegal, arrogant, elitist, sneaky, sophomoric, ill-informed, disrespectful…I could go on and on. I’m a photographer for over 30 years, a stringer for UPI and AP, and although these pictures have a titillating aura about them because of their ill-gotten methods, they are not journalism nor news. They are thieves and now criminals, pre-meditated trespassers that very well could have put themselves, others or the vessels themselves in danger. These adrenaline junkies, who lost any credibility as they went down the Bush/Obama path for no reason, found a cheap thrill. Personally, I hope law enforcement takes these photos as evidence of their actions and prosecutes them to the extent beyond what they already knew they could be charged with. Sad, very sad. Nay, pathetic.

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  81. Nora Fox said on 

    These are fantastic pictures, and I thank you so much for exploring the ships and posting the pictures.

    My grandfather served aboard the Nereus which I know was stored here – I’m not sure if she still is. My grandfather passed away a few years ago and every time I pass by the fleet, I always try to catch a glimpse of the ships and imagine him aboard the Nereus back in the late 40′s.

    This is wonderful. You’ve done what I’ve always dreamed of doing.

    Thank you so much.


  82. Tapestry said on 

    Thank you for the photos I always wondered what it looked like.
    The ships have never been forgotten, all the boaters know about them.
    It’s sad the ships will all be gone, its a reminder of the horror we had to deal with in the past.
    When you remove them nobody will remember cause “they” want to erase the past and
    make up their own versions with the US as the bad guys in all ways.
    I don’t know how these ships can be such a horrible hazard when many
    ships are sunk to be homes for fish. I think its just a bunch of nonsense made up
    by the eco-wackos that live in the seismatic zone of the bay area, ‘they’ have nothing else
    to do but hate the military and all they represent.. Like if it wasn’t for those in uniform the
    wackos wouldn’t have the freedom to mouth off like they do everyday of the week!

  83. kathy said on 

    Thanks for the photos. They are fabulous, and I enjoyed reading about your adventures. There are some nice looking couches, chairs and lamps in the pics Are they going to be destroyed too? It seems like there would be a market for all the “retro” furniture that is in decent condition.

  84. Bay said on 

    It’s Bush’s fault!!!!


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  86. JMK said on 

    It’s hard to explain to a non-UE person the planning & forethought that goes into these kinds of trips, so I applaud your sense of decorum when responding. I’m quite sure I would not be able to hold my tongue as well as you guys are doing. :-)
    In any event, thank you for sharing. The photos were compelling by themselves, but the narrative really brought everything to light and made it a real “story”. Congratulations on a world-class UE expedition and some amazing shots to show for it.
    …and kudos for sharing it with the rest of us so we could enjoy it too.

  87. JOANNA said on 

    wonderful pictures, I’m your fan :]

  88. smilee said on 

    I drive past those ships all the time on the bridge. I think about sneaking up there and I always wonder how to get up on deck. I used to do a lot of breaking an entering in industrial places in my youth, to take pictures…. and steal stuff. I want to see pictures of every inch of those boats.
    Maybe the Center For Land Use Interpretation could open some doors for you guys to get out there legally to document everything.

  89. Kamil said on 

    Great pictures! Congratulations!

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  91. Axel said on 

    its epic, i really envy you. I would kill to see this fleet with my own eyes.
    Greetings from Poland and keep up the good work guys!

  92. Sebas said on 

    Nice story, i haven’t heard of this fleet. really nice pictures. Didn’t u wanted to start one of those ships? Since the keys where there:) Like that Sea Shadow stealth ship ?

  93. Roy said on 

    Great Phots, compelling story. So many interesting things like this are right under our dail grind we don’t even notice them. The only down fall and the reason I would NEVER look for your work again is you single out President Bush (I am no Lover of the man) to blame. You said yourself this had been going on for 40 50 years. I do not beleive Bush was Priesident all those years so why single him out. Prehaps durring his years, as with previous President, he had just a few more important things on his plate than these ships. Shame you took a wonderful work and turned it into a bash. You could have used this to promte help for the problem but everyone wants to blame someone else today and most of us are just tied of it.

  94. wenjea said on 

    I was enthralled with your daring deeds and the pictures. I skipped the politics and bullshit.

  95. Knobby said on 

    The photos are great-something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve been aboard mothballed ships too and when you are few in number stumbling thorugh passageways and levels you are unsure of it is very dangerous indeed. Nice job but you broke the law and should be locked up if for no other reason than being stupid! Also-did you say that the photos are the property of AOL??? So you were paid to break the law by AOL??

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      AOL had nothing to do with this…not sure where you got that idea from. They are my photos and I took them as an individual.

      • Geoff said on 

        He’s probably talking about them being reproduced with (credit) in a blogpost at which is owned by AOL Travel.

  96. gmuny2002 said on 

    I don’t know if you fellows are a little crazy, stupid or both! I was in the Navy for 6 years and I used to guard the “Mothball Fleet” in Philadelphia! What you did is a good way to get either hurt or killed! Plus, if you were caught, you may have been prosecuted as sabatouers or worse! The ships are interesting, though and I’m glad to see you’re all OK and that the “mission” is completed! Good luck, and may you have fair winds and following seas!

  97. craig walsh said on 

    Bottom line, great job. A ‘wouldn’t trade it for anything’ event. I also believe we should be briefly informed that strange things do or don’t exist or occur in such locations and situations as these. Like voices.

  98. Brian said on 

    Fantastic photos; I would be curious to learn what equipment you used.

    The Bush comment however, was so stereotypically leftist as to be almost laughable. You make a limited effort to explore the history of this fleet and why it has remained for so long, but then ruin any semblance of credibility by blaming something that has existed since the 1940s (in a state known for liberal policies) on a GOP president elected in the year 2000.

  99. John said on 

    Any Heiden took these same pictures – with permission – some time ago. This whole amatuer SEAL mission business is ridiculous. Maybe a good story, but complete B.S.

  100. doug said on 

    Your website has all the proof necessary for the government to file charges against all of you. But of course Obama is in charge now but that will change in 2012 and don’t be suprised if they give you a tour of another federal location, like Levenworth.

  101. Tao said on 

    Wow you guys got lucky on your find. The sea shadow. that is a classafied ship and just happen to come across it. I notice in one picture alot of keys, any luck opening anything using the keys.

  102. Waldemar said on 

    Nice adventure. Why haven’t you check engine room compartments? Those must be ghostly places.

  103. Proud American said on 

    Knowing that you guys are California liberals, I understand your short commings in not understanding the significance of these ships. I’ts possible that you may have had relatives, as well as many other Americans that served on these ships, may have fought for the freedom of our beloved United States of America. These ships may have delivered soldiers, supplies and weapons so that America could fight its battles. These ships definitely have more significance than dripping toxins over many years. If these ships needed to be relocated because of hazzards, so where are your senators and congressman from California, and a Demoncratic Congress up until 1994. Even though the photos and storyline is interesting, what makes you think that you are out of the woods regarding your illegal entry aboard these ships?

    • Blake said on 

      Wait. What? I think these guys certainly DO understand the significance of these ships. Why else would they make the effort to do what they did. They took photos to help preserve this history that is rotting away.

  104. Suit & Tie Guy said on 

    i doubt if any of you guys stopping short of calling these photographers enemy combatants would have said anything at all if these photos were just put out there with no editorial whatsoever.

    photographers: just let the (very good) photos speak for themselves. talking about your daring-do and politicalisms doesn’t help you at all. your obvious political bias is an insult to your audience and potential patrons.

    flag-waving squares: don’t you have better things to do like watch Bill O’Reilly or something?

  105. Lee said on 

    “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.” (Abraham Lincoln)

    I published a book about Boston’s Beacon Hill years ago (20th Century Beacon Hill if you must know). In the two years it took to shoot the photos, I can’t tell you how many opportunities I seized which, technically, were out-of-bounds. I got the shots and a quarter-century later they’re impossibly unique… historical treasures. And no one has cared that I “broke some rules.”

    The whining (both directions) I read here is disappointing. I’m reminded of our nanny state every day I see the label on the hair drier telling you not to stick it up your butt and go into the bath.

    The point is that we’re all going to die from something– it’s the courageous things we do in the middle that count. It’s the life in your years that generate something of worth, as is this project. A bit of creative chaos can be good.

    Thanks boys for your work. Technically… breathtaking. Adventuresome and well-written, too.

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  107. Chrisdmrf said on 

    I’m a Brit and an UrBexer so won’t bother with politics. Awesome explore, awesome pics, Epic. Kudos all round you crazy fools

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  109. Beentheredonethat said on 

    Woohoo, you guys are some kind of really bad dudes. You remind me of the vignette in the movie “Major Payne”, where the ‘kid cadets tried to break into the competing military school and steal the trophy. You guys had some hair-raising excitement- almost lost a paddle, broke the invisible 500 yard barrier, a spotlight in your eyes and a leak in your cheesy little WalMart raft. One look at you with your dark colored “assault cap” and hoodie and those pesky security guards knew not to take on a raft full of serious UrbExers.
    After reading your nail-biter of an article, I breathlessly pursued your links re: UrbEx. I was linked to the piece on the Greystone Park Lunatic Asylum. I bet you almost pooped your panties when you saw the ” forgotten beauty shop chair”. Are you sure the chair wasn’t some Bush-Cheney tortue instrument??? If Bush had not been such an idiot, he would have closed the place, but,alas, the lunatic asylum remained in operation until Obama was elected.
    Want some real adventure, hot shots? Join the military, volunteer for an elite unit, make the cut and teat your limits. Until then, I smirk at you and urbWx punks like you.

  110. Charles said on 

    Each year the Congress appropriates money for the maintenance and disposition of the Reserve Fleet. As environmental protection regulations were added the cost of disposition increased and the quantity of ships to be disposed of each year decreased. In addition the lowest bids were coming in from foreign companies that did not plan to comply with the US regulations. In addition some ships have features that are limited to US citizens until and unless Congress passes a law exempting them. The result was an increased risk of the ships sinking in place. Eventually more funds were appropriated. This has little to do with the name of our President.

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  114. Tae said on 

    The Seashadow is there?
    What is it housed in?

  115. Tae said on 

    Nevermind… found it!
    Seashadow is housed in the

  116. Frank Bidinger said on 

    Happened on your photos and story. Fantastic!! I live in the area so am very familiar with the fleet. My dad was on the USS Sperry and I know that it’s in the fleet. Any chance you have any photos from it? Thanks

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      Hi Frank, I do have a few pics of the Sperry (e.g. dental chair and aerial shot). I just added captions on all the photos (click on the thumbnails).

      • Don Judd said on 

        I also liked the picture of the Sperry. I served on her from 1973 – ’76, in the Forward Engineroom.
        Good to see her again.
        As for the the accusations, they may be true to an extent, but I would probably never have seen this picture, if you hadn’t gone there. I don’t see any of these historical groups mentioning that the USS Sperry AS-12, was the first ship launched, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, served in forward areas, replinishing our only real war ships of the early war, the submarines, or that she once ran agouund in Washington. And they call themselves historians!

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  120. TheEpicRide Ryan said on 

    Fantastic adventure! Well done men.

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  122. John said on 

    Great adventure & great shots. I’ve dreamed of doing the very same thing for a long time, especially to the iconic USS Iowa. Long shot, but is there any chance you’d post an equipment list re: cameras, lenses, and lighting? I realize that you guys are pros but it would fun be to deconstruct some of the interior shots versus the list.

    Also very sorry that the know-nothings have invaded the comments section here as well.

  123. yeghia said on 

    Hi, Great story, and great photos. I wish there were more to see.
    Also, i was wondering what you used to make your website.

  124. EZEKIEL said on 

    I really like your trip, the adrenaline was great i guess, i did some similar stuff on the subway .
    I also think that the guards keep an eye on you all the time, but see u were good people and let u go free,
    kind of freak what i think
    keep rockin

  125. Neil Fellowes said on 

    Another explorer from the U.K. here, and another one who’s not interested in politics – it just isn’t important enough, and we in the U.K. are seriously above political name-calling because it’s all really very silly (“goddamit, he’s a democrat Martha!!!” – in the U.K. , very funny roflmao). It’s about the art; politicians, safety nazis and supporters of the nanny state and all their lambs can do one.

    Sooo, I have to say that you’ve presented a great write up and even greater pictures, Few doors remain closed to those of us who seek beauty in decay. As my U.K. pal Chrisdmrf says, kudos to you crazy fools. Ignore the ignorant who don’t understand what the explore is all about and what it all entails – life is for living, you’re a long time dead.

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  127. T C said on 

    Just curious as to why you didn’t just ask for permission from MARAD Public Affairs Office? I can’t see why they’d oppose documenting a fleet that will soon be gone, or even under the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). You really did risk your safety and I imagine that’s MARAD’s reasoning for the security there, to keep lookey-loos from getting hurt or killed on these ships.

    But I can’t argue with the quality of the photos, it really is a neat project.

    • Michael Wayne said on 

      Acutally, the folks legitimately working to preserve some of these ships have indeed been given access. These guys are just capitalyzing on a made up controversy. They should be fined for invading this secure space.

  128. uboat said on 

    Oboma is towing these ships to Texas at great expense to reward shipyards and unions there and to buy votes. They could be dismantled in California and provide jobs there but he doesn’t need more support in left-wing California. (Never misses exploiting an opportunity).

  129. Adam R. said on 

    You must have had the urge to keep a few small souvenirs….what caught your eye?!

  130. Scott said on 

    What a great collection of shots! Takes me back to days growing up on the Alabama Gulf coast. My father took us on a boat trip up the Mobile River to see the “ghost fleet” at anchor there at the time. An eerie experience I will never forget!

    • Helen said on 

      As a child/teenager visiting Fairhope, AL, I remember going up the Mobile River too to see the Ghost Fleet. It seemed like it was always overcast and the river was lined with Oak trees with massive amounts of Spanish Moss. It was VERY eerie.

  131. Eric Montgomery said on 

    Any LCVP’s or small landing craft that we can use at our WWII Living History event in Conneaut Ohio? We’ll put them back in action!

  132. Reno said on 

    I remember driving by and looking at this “ghost fleet” with such awe as a kid growing up in the bay area. The History and stories of these ships seemed so close to my childhood imagination then. I really envy you for being able to visit these ships in person. I still long to do this before they are gone. Thank you for capturing them in photos for other to see/experience.

  133. lrbounce said on 

    First, is this not highly illegal? Aren’t you guys showing evidence of tresspassing, vandalizing, squatting, breaking and entering and who knows what else and then also trying to profit from these crimes? Did you ask to go document these ships? I could understand if this were some big cover up and you were exposing something, but all the environmental impact seems like it’s out there in the open, people know about it. This sounds like three guys going to explore cool old ships and play cloak and dagger with some security guards.

    What are you telling a new generation of photo journalists and artists? Hey, don’t worry about rules or the law because you should be able to do whatever you want. It’s amazing you didn’t get hurt or worse and who knows what you’ve been breathing in there. I think it’s sad that you have this kind of disregard for the law when you could have attempted proper channels and possibly been allowed onto the ships for proper documentation. Ridiculous. Almost ridiculous as the trolls that have started a conversation about politics for no reason.

  134. Greg said on 

    I have to reiterate how much credibility the photographers lost when they blamed 100% of the problem on Bush, and completely white washed Clinton, the other Bush, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, and of course the guy that started the rot: John Kennedy. Democrats controlled Congress for the vast majority of this time — except for a brief period in the 90s. This is not to say any Democrat is to blame — it says the authors come of sounding rather uneducated when they assign 50 years of rust and neglect to the a guy whom they obviously don’t like.

    And as many people have pointed out — your entire photo collection is evidence of trespassing. If this country still had any laws that were enforced, you would go to prison. You implicated yourselves.

  135. Jim Riffle said on 

    Enjoyed your photos tremendously. I recognized the USCGC Glacier from the first photo of your group posted on the web today. The round area on the forward main deck (former gun mount) had a painting of a Walrus and Glaciers moto “Follow Me”. I lived abord the Glacier from 1971 until 1973 as a Radioman. Three patrols from the North Pole to the South Pole and much between. I and many others have great memories of life aboard “Big Red” and enjoy seeing her once in a while. I passed over Suisun Bay on my way from Napa to Carmel ten years ago and recognized that big red hull then. There is an active effort to return her to civilian service (Glacer Society) but progress is slow. Did you go aboard her? If so, I would enjoy any photos you may have of her interior. I have some photos of her during operations and will forward if you’re interested. Thank you for your efforts.

  136. Mike Black said on 

    Incredible story guys! These ships, although rusting, falling apart, are beautiful and historical treasures…

  137. Troy M. Paul said on 

    These rusting ships represent an opportunity for job creation and even industry expansion!

  138. Stephanie Hammack said on 

    Sneaks on board and calls that “unprecedented access”. Your getting on board is no big deal to me — could care less how you did it. At least be honest in the very beginning rather than waiting.

  139. Siobhan said on 

    Fantastic photos and fascinating story of how you got them. I’ve often said through the years when my children and I would drive by the “mothball fleet” “if only those ships could talk, oh the stories they could tell!”. Thanks to the three of you they have been heard.

    Thank you so much for daring to take the risk in order to preserve some history. Now the ships will live on each time their photos are seen.

  140. Bill Thompson said on 

    Nice project that has turned into a political rant of comments. There is one serious question that appears to have been avoided and that is you had to “dodge” working crews on some of the ships (?). What were those working crews doing? Also, there is no mention of the ships that were strategically moved out in support of the beginning of the Iraq War. Some of the ships in the “mothballed fleet” are in effect warehouses filled with military supplies such as vehicles needed in the event of a conflict. That was the case when the Iraq War started and ships with Hummvees were sailed to the Persion Gulf. There is no mention of this strategic planning and on-going serviceability of some of the vessels. Not everything is scrap and it might have been good to provide details of what is in the holds of the ships. My guess is that the current “working” vessels were not boarded by your team.

    • Stephen Freskos said on 

      We did dodge working crews on one of the trips. I can’t give details on what ship and date, but they were what appeared to be a tug subcontractor that was preparing rigging and loading supplies necessary to tow the ship out in the next few days.
      You stated:
      “Some of the ships in the “mothballed fleet” are in effect warehouses filled with military supplies such as vehicles needed in the event of a conflict.”
      I don’t know where you are getting your information from. I can speak only from the experience of being on many of these ships, and we most definitely did not find anything remotely like this. We found no equipment, materials, or supplies in these ships. We did find plenty of cigarette butts and “hang out” spots inside of the ships, with chairs gathered around, where it looks like the workers took breaks and smoked cigarettes. There was one ship in Row F that was completely sealed, painted completely gray, and had sheet metal covering all doors and windows, adhered with some kind of industrial waterproofing sealant. This must have been one of the few “reserve ready” ships and we made no attempts at entry. The vast majority of the ships we visited were nowhere close to being put back into service. Most of the bridges had 75% or more of their navigation, radio, and communications equipment removed. Most engine rooms had a variety of parts removed with no systems active whatsoever. I found no boilers in a state of proper layup. No desiccant, no nitrogen blanketing; instead, the mud and steam drums were wide open and caked with rust, burners left installed and caked with solidified bunker C/HFO, pools of HFO on the floors, etc. From the state of the boilers and other equipment, and burners left in place with HFO still dripping out, it doesn’t appear that they flushed the entire system with distillate fuel oils and properly prepared these ships for any kind of future service. A MAJOR, MAJOR effort would be needed to remove solidified bunker or HFO from fuel tanks, most likely necessitating the replacement of all the tank heating systems not to mention replacement of all the other fuel lines on board. We’re talking millions and millions of dollars here, and months, if not years of retrofits needed just to get the propulsion boilers back online. The simple fact of not having the boilers in a state of dry layup means there was never any intention of reusing these vessels. It seems more likely that they knew the ships had no useful life left, but weren’t ready to scrap them, so they put them on the back shelf and weren’t concerned with how much money or effort it would take to bring them back into service. If you don’t care how much money it takes to bring something back into service, you probably never had any intention of ever reusing it, or you’re the government and just don’t care.
      For photography’s sake, and I think I speak for the three of us here, we’re more interested in old and decaying things, things suffering the depredations of time, things somewhat untouched and left to moulder, than we are drawn to actively maintained machinery. Therefore, we sought out the rustiest and crustiest stuff to photograph, as it’s much cooler to look at and makes for better pictures.

  141. Regulation Q said on 

    “…rusting and leaching toxic heavy metals into the bay as the Bush administration did little to address the crumbling ships.”


    What did the Clinton administration do about the crumbling ships…?

    What is it about the BDS problem (Bush Derangement Syndrome.)? It’s like a tic from Addison’s disease that you can’t control – every time a topic comes up, these people immediately do the BSD tic…


  142. Tracy said on 

    Congrads gentlemen. You did what they rest of us only dreamed about. Thank you so much for sharing these photos and your adventures.

  143. Chris Brown said on 

    So these ships have been there since the 50′s and many are still there, but somehow it’s bushes fault?

    It’s unfortunate that these amazing pictures had to come attached to such ignorant political commentary.

    • Capnsavseemm said on 

      The Bush Administration could have cleaned them up, just like the Clinton, Bush, Sr. Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, Johnson, Kennedy, etc etc etc administrations could have.

  144. Capnsavseemm said on 

    Ahh nice trespassing on federal property and then publishing it with the photos to convict yourselves????

    Anyway, did you see Howard Hughes treasure ship while you were out there?

  145. Wes said on 

    First, nice photos.
    Second, I though I was here to look at photos not get into a political/moral analogy. Well we live in a FREE society. Which means the right to make ones own decisions, good or bad. And ALL of our current government is ridiculous, fat bloated and self feeding.
    Now, ten maybe twenty years from now the UrbanEx boy’s will look back “hopefully” and realize how crazy this was. I know things I did in my youth were stupid, fortunately I survived and learned better.

    Relax, Judge not, thanks for the entertainment, and oh….nice photos

  146. Jesika said on 

    What kind of camera was used to take these pictures? And what shutter speed on the night shots where the stars are visible but the sky isn’t over exposed?

  147. Joshua said on 

    SO AWESOME! Thanks for sharing this!

  148. Randy Connaughton said on 

    What a poor example you are for other photographers. You are selfish, immature boys who think only of your own wants and false glory. Just like Jill Greenberg, who betrayed the trust of U.S. Senator John McCain and violated professional ethics to create juvenile political art. Just like the so-called street artist Shepard Fairey, who appropriated an AP image without permission to create the Obama “Hope” portrait, then later admitted to trying to deceive the courts by destroying incriminating evidence, and threatened to sue other artists who misappropriated his work. Of his earlier “Obey Giant” poster Fairey said, “I was only thinking about the response from my clique of art school and skateboard friends.” Your eagerness to reveal all affirms your infantile aims. There is no place for situational integrity, and whatever you are, you are not a professional photographer.

  149. Mark said on 

    Wow. What an awesome story! You are the KINGS of the SNEAKABOARDS! I’d love to do something similar, like photograph WWII era mess halls. I was an Army brat, and always loved the feel of military cafeterias. The thick naugahyde, solid construction, solid mugs, dated decorations, mellow old waitresses, vets telling their stories, the compounded feelings of security and cameraderie and digestive fullness, and menus that although unchanged since WWII have items that are obscure or unheard of nowadays yet seem to hint of a past life, the aromas seeming to contain a common, singular smell of victory, of noble souls unphased by great loss, sacrifice, and death, rushing at you with peace-stained, hallowed hearts and new minds, nostalgic for their brotherhood’s abode, perhaps missing their last hotel, their last station, whitewashed once and loved with youth’s eyes, with indelible innocence unforgotten and missed.

  150. Sean said on 

    Damn, I wanna sign up for this kind of adventure…what a rush!

  151. MsSorenson said on 

    A tremendous thank you for taking these photographs. I love seeing images of forgotten relics, particularly those in my own region. I appreciate your stories, too, despite some of the responses they elicited.

    It’d be great if you contributed your photographs to an historical book on this fleet.

    I hope you’ll pursue other historic sites in the future and look forward to reading about them.

  152. Tim Pendergast said on 

    I am totally blown away by your pics of the mothball fleet, but especially of the Sea Shadow. The only time I have seen that craft is in a book on the Lockheed Skunk Works, that also built the U-2, SR-71 and F-117 Stealth Fighter. That was a truly stealth ship. If you ever did a book I would buy it in a second and will put your site in my favorites. FANTASTIC work!!! I looked at a lot of your pics and just thought about what it would have been like to have been on those ships when they were in service. Granted, I did the same with several of your other pics. You have a truly amazing vision and your desire to go to all of these long forgotten places and share them with everyone else is awesome!

  153. evets said on 

    Bill Thompson makes sense out of nonsense. It is clearly evident he has the intelligence, insight and wisdon to discern fact from fiction. His remars are right on.

    My hat is off to you Bill. Thanks for getting to the real story behind the story.

  154. Peggy Avila said on 

    Well done. Stunning work. Thank you (and your friends) for taking the risks for this photo documentation.

  155. Michael Wayne said on 

    There are groups working hard to preserve some of these ships as accessible museums, including the Iowa and others. My dad served on Iowa and I served on proteus, which was anchored just inboard of the BB. Instead of breaking the law by sneaking aboard, perhaps you could volunteer with one of the groups trying to find a satisfactory resolution.
    There are very good reasons for not wanting amateurs such a yourself to wander the ships. Next time, try being more respectful.

  156. Lowell Axelson said on 

    WOW and WOW, I grew up in San Francisco and I can’t tell yo how many we passed those ships. When we went on a trip with the folks we always knew we were near home when we passed the ships. You guys did an awesome job. I drive truck now and I really enjoy passing by those ships. I recently told my son Thor who also drives truck that going on those ships and spending the night on one would definintly be on my bucket list. Iam recovering from a heart valve replacement and doing very well. So now if I don’t get the chance I now can see them,ghost ships, up front and in detail thanks again, Lowell

  157. dana sarazin said on 

    i would love to buy some of those photos.i know that they would good for my grandkids to take them to school,there teachers could have that be part of i think the kids would love learing about the history of each boat do you sell prints let me know.i would also like the story you wrote about how you got them and the background of each boat.if you sell the prints and story,let me know how to buy them.thank you for all your hard wook.dana

  158. Charles Dublin said on 

    I was responsible for oversight of a ship salvage operation at Hunter’s Point Naval Shipyard in 1999 and 2000. We salvaged completely four fishing vessels and two USN Knox class frigates during that period. It was an interesting project and I saw many ships at Suisun Bay that were earmarked for salvage. Your photo essay is well done and brings back fond memories.

    Best Regards,

    C. Dublin

  159. George said on 

    1) The Iowa has NOT been in California for decades. She was in Newport, R.I. until 2001. I was on that ship doing a photo shoot in 1999. As a U S Navy photographer I would see the ship whenever I was in R.I.

    2) While some facts are used, the verbage used slants the blog to a liberal bias.
    The world is better off with Saddam & the taliban having been removed from power.
    Saddam did have WMD’s, he used them against the Iranians & Kurds.
    Servcemembers are all well aware of the risks involved & are prepared to go into harms way. Do not blame GW Bush for sending us. It needed to be done.

    3) As a Navy photojournalist who has been on mothballed ships, the images are mediocre as a whole. They are OK, not great, not bad. The image of the Iowa’s 16″ guns is nice though, I like the lighting.

    4) The bottom line though is you are self serving, thrill seeking law breakers! You did not like the rules or disagreed with them so you broke them. You make excuses about not being able to get access in time but did not attempt to do so. Having been on ships like the Iowa, I know the rules are as much for YOUR safety as anything else. In doing so you hurt those groups that have legitimate requests for access. You brag about your experience & are making a profit from trespassing. If you have any character you will donate EVERY penny to the group trying to turn the Iowa into a museum. I doubt that you do though.

  160. vamsi said on 

    very nice fotos hope i get a chance to spend a weeks time in those ships

  161. Matt Francisco said on 

    This was definitely a Great Read, Love the pictures. Sometimes in life you just have to do what feels good. Hey, you took a risk, it paid off & it sounds like you had one heck of a time. You did what everyone else that passes by those ships wanted to do… Well Done. Will be waiting to see what you do next.

    Have Fun – Matt

  162. vince lopez said on 

    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….
    O please give me a break from your political bullshit!! According to you these ships have been around since the 1950′s but you cant help but blaming Bush? what did clinton or obama do to address this? how bout all the presidents since the 1950′s. Wonderful pics but please spare the political digs…

  163. Wayne said on 

    As a 14 year veteran of the USMC and the USN I have to say that I applaud your work. I have worked in the aviation community for most of my career and I sometimes laugh to myself about how working in a hanger with several large aircraft in various states of dismantlement can seem mundane to me. Once in a while I am still able to stop and find that “little boy” sense of wonder and amazement staring at the sights that now seem common place to me and think about how lucky I am to have had such experiences in my life. I can never seem to find the time or the will to document my experiences in any significant fashion to share with the general public. I can’t help to feel that what you have done is less of a crime and more of a public service. So few in this world will ever be able to experience the things that you were able to gain access to and I can’t help to feel that those of us who have served are anything but appreciative to have this bit of our military history preserved by a professional trying to re-capture that sense of wonder that drove so many of us in to the service to begin with.

  164. Paul Erold said on 

    WOW! You guys are fantastic! I am really amazed! Your story is full of adventure and your shots are good! This one is very interesting to read, very informative. Two thumbs up!

  165. Cash said on 

    I like how quickly the comments can quickly polarize over five words in this whole story.

  166. dave said on 

    Just a message you should really pay attention TOO. Inside the 500 FT space is “SHOOT ON SITE” around things like “SEA SHADOW”. Just because it’s in a barge doesn’t mean it’s not still “CLASSIFIED” in some way. If your smart you will remove the photo’s of said “Black OPS TEST BED”. The gov. does not move on swift wings unless you are caught red handed. (They Shoot first and get your names later). Don’t listen to foolish people who believe you can do as you please. (I like the photos, but you should play the lotto, Before they come get you and all your work).

  167. aaron said on 

    i wouldn’t breathe easy yet you just handed them proof and a detailed account of 5 felony tresspassing trips and worse yet you have yourself and smugness to blame if the fbi or someone comes a knocking this story will convict you and several times you aknowledge the fact you knew you were breaking the law but the worst part is you admitted premediation and by publishing it openly did it for profit. i love the story just hope your kids will love it too when daddies in the fed pen!

  168. aaron said on 


  169. jay said on 

    EVERYONE has turned an otherwise curious adventure story into a political rant, while obviously delighting in the extremely illegal activity, and possible light of the authors themselves being seen in a terroristic light by authorities. Why do you think they protect these hulks??? It’s not because you can get on one and crank it up and move out, but because something can be planted on them and all of Vallejo go up.. It’s not tinfoil hat territory.

  170. p addley said on 

    Stupid stool pushers. Keep the hell off our ships. Next time tell us when you’re going to trespass,
    so we can kill you.

  171. Felix said on 

    20th CENTURY WARS and the U.S. Presidents who were in office when they started.
    W W I ; President: Woodrow Wilson ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    W W II; President: Theodore Roosevelt ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    Korean; President: Harry S. Truman ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    Viet Nam ; President Lyndon Johnson ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    Iran Conflict; President Jimmy Carter ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    Iraq War ; President George H.W. Bush ; Political Party: REPUBLICAN
    Bosnia ; President Bill Clinton ; Political Party: DEMOCRAT
    Any questions?

    • J Henderson said on 

      You Idiot! You left out a few that started while Republicans held office.
      Do your research before public posting.

    • Glenn Gross said on 

      Teddy Roosevelt was a Bull Moose not a democrat and Franklin Roosevelt was president during WW II can I sign for action when you decide to invade the B-25 graveyards ??

    • Capnsavseemm said on 

      First off it doesn’t matter who was in office during many of these wars, the U.S. didn’t start them. WWI we did not start, WWII we did not start, Korea, we did not start Vietnam we did not start.
      Theodore Roosevelt died in 1919, how could he have been president when WWII started?
      Someone doesn’t seem to know their history very well.

      • Dan said on 

        We DID start Viet Nam! JFK did it to fulfill a politicial promise made before he was elected. READ.

  172. K.L. said on 

    Great photos! You’ve done something many (including myself) wish we could have done! Great urban exploring!

    BUT, did you ever THINK about the repercussions for telling the whole world about it?

    1- You’ve probably ruined it for further covert mothball fleet exploration;
    2- You probably got the guards fired;
    3- As mentioned above, you’ve probably also ruined sanctioned exploration/salvage trips to the mothball fleet.

    I occasionally help on the Red Oak Victory ship restoration, which was pulled from the mothball fleet some years ago. Restorers of the Red Oak have made sanctioned trips up there to salvage needed parts. Broadcasting your act has put that process in jeopardy in the near future; making salvage before these ships get hauled for scrap much more difficult.

    Regarding the ‘Bush’ comment- I’m as liberal as they come, but that comment was a bit, well; ‘juvenile’.

    Again, well done on the pics. Very cool. But you really should have thought about broadcasting your findings and the repercussions that affect others. It would have been more prudent to have kept it on the down-low.

    Regards- KL

  173. Chris said on 

    Wonderful images! However, the USS Glacier is actually the USCGC Glacier, a Coast Guard Cutter. Also, IF you go back out there and IF your grab some photos of the USCGC Iris I would deffinately order some prints!

  174. Somedude said on 

    Cool pix and story but I bet some security people got in trouble, and maybe even fired, as a result of your adventure. Oh well.

  175. Glen said on 

    Incredible spread, absolutely incredible. Great work. Excellent story to go along with it. Thank you.

  176. J.Villon said on 

    Thats right, The “Bush Administration”. You are Another Libtard from California. Ships been there since 1959? How about the “Stain on the dress” Clinton Administration? How about the “Peanut brain” Carter Administration? How about the present “Marxist Muslim” Obama Administration?.. You destroyed a nice website with a diseased Liberal agenda, just by that one comment. When will you sick Liberals ever learn? We are through with you, We are sick of your Marxism, Socialism and biased comments. I wanted to read the whole website, but stopped with the “Bush Administration” comment. It’s all Bush’s fault? Well Obama is all YOUR fault. The mental disease called Liberalism and Obama the Muslim will be eradicated in 2012. What a pity-an excellent site backed with research spoiled rotten by your liberal comments. You Liberals will never “get it”.

  177. Blame Bush said on 

    Bill Clinton meant to clean this mess up, but he didnt have enough donors from the Bay Area to make the project possible… And we all know that Bush spent his time in office trying to figure out how he could prevent rusting ships in California from being scrapped. He also prevented a pothole in Pomona from being repaired for 3 months. The guy is monster.

    Please email Linda Douglass at and report anyone who spreads false Bush propaganda.

  178. Fred said on 

    The USS Glacier looks like a Coast Guard Ice Breaker so the correct name would be CGC Glacier.

  179. James Willis said on 

    I appreciate your bringing us to a time where/when sacrifice and heroes served. At the same time, this brings bitter sweet memories. My father served on the USS Latimer ( Troop Ship ) which participated in the invasion of Okinawa. He seldom spoke about his time spent in the War but that part of his life and those he served with had a profound influence on him. He’s passed now – as are most other Vets from that period(s). Let’s honor them by remembering that these are more than ships – this is a glimpse into the past, in places where sailors and soldiers died for us. God rest them….

  180. kristian said on 

    Great adventure you had. Photos of a bygone era are always intriguing.
    I have 2 questions if you get a chance to answer.
    What kind of documents did you find in leftover files I saw in a couple of pictures?
    And what in the world is the “sea shadow?” Very james bond looking. Are those powered lights or sunlight through the ceiling in the “sea shadow” photos?

  181. Pete said on 

    If Obama is such a “champion” of getting rid of these ships (don’t forget the James River Fleet too!) – then why hasn’t the N.S Savannah’s decommissioning moved forward?

  182. Erik said on 

    While these photos are astonishing and should be treasured it is a shame to see you fall victim to partisan politics. The photos are amazing though.

  183. erwin lizada said on 

    what if my country philippines can ask some ship that can be still be considered seaworth. be donated to phillipines

  184. Who R u said on 

    So… you break the LAW… to take pictures.. I HOPE THEY ARREST YOU… you are the kind of person who thinks that you are better than anyone else, you think that a camera gives you the right to do as you please.. never mind the fact that your political agenda ruined what could have been a GREAT artical.

  185. Ken said on 

    AMAZING photos!!

  186. Mike Robertson said on 

    So this is what the unemployed do with their time ( I hesitate to say spare time, because its all spare, right?) ! Anyway, just busting your balls a little. Great story and photos. Now if we can just channel all that creativity into finding a job…..hmmm

  187. Kristin said on 

    I can’t believe how people take something so beautiful and interesting and turn it into a political debate! I was enjoying this site until I read the comments people posted! Damn, take all the fun outta it! Everyone has a right to their own opinions and what about freedom of speech? Respect others views and unless you have something useful and good to say, keep it to yourself! I’d much rather focus on the wonderful adventure and photo’s! Great job! I would have loved to been there too!

    • netprophet said on 

      Thanks for the great photos. I used to drive over the Carquinas Straights on my travels to Santa Rosa in the early 80′s and always marveled at the mothballed fleet. On 9/15/1997, an article appeared in the SF Chronicle stating the following: “The Mothball Fleet is the largest single collection of ships on the Pacific Ocean. The 78 cargo ships, tankers, Victory ships, missile cruisers, barges and tugboats have accumulated more than 2,000 years of total active service. They have sailed every sea, been to thousands of ports and served in every foreign war and military conflict since World War II. Though many of the fleet’s ships are slated for scrap, most are being maintained for possible use in the future by America’s military and humanitarian organizations…..The ships kept in reserve by the Maritime Administration ensure that the country will not have to depend on foreign ships or build new ones if a war or humanitarian need arises. Every day, 71 Maritime Administration workers inspect the ships for leaks, oil the engines and make sure only dry air circulates inside the ships’ hulls. A low-voltage electrical system keeps corrosion from forming under the waterline. With no advance notice, they can be brought to duty and manned in as little as four days after a call from the Pentagon or the President….The Coast Guard uses them to train firefighting crews and oil spill response teams. Marines from all over the country practice storming Mothball ships with small craft and helicopters. Marines who trained on the ships helped enforce the United Nations’ Iraqi shipping blockade during the Gulf War. On a more peaceful note, the ships also provide ideal protective cover for the Bay’s sturgeon and striped bass population.”

      So, the purpose of this fleet is clearly stated above as there is no mention in the article about purposely reducing the fleet, so to excoriate some past President for the exitence of this fleet is utter lunacy once again underscoring the nonsense emanating from the pens of Bush-bashers.

  188. Driver said on 

    It is hard for most Americans who have not served in our Armed Forces to respect what this team of men have accomplished. Besides the fact that the act was “illegal”, you have to understand the safety issues at stake that make it illegal. All that rusted metal and even asbestos that still lingers onboard those vessels that at once time protected the freedoms of this country and also laid “home” to countless young men and women of our country. To me it is sad to see what has become of these once masterful and powerful vessels. I am approaching the end of a 20 year career in the Navy, and to see ships that I once called home in the condition that they are in is actually sad. To see the photo’s and read the story of their efforts, in a way honors the trails that our country has been through over the decades. Those very rooms where they camped out have laid refuge to some of the most historic and honorable leaders of our history, let alone those sailors and marines who still go unrecognized for their sacrifices. Alot of Americans have lost sight of the duties these men and women of the past, present and future have and will endure to protect our country. Those ships, and the likes of other “moth ball” fleets as the ones in Bremerton, WA and Honolulu, HI all pay tribute to the “once been” protectors or our country. So I say honor these men for their risks to bring to light the history of the vessels that were once the backbone to each and every one our freedoms! Fair winds and following seas to all who have served, and from a fellow serviceman…THANK YOU!

  189. Driver said on 


    Eventhough what these men did is classified as “illegal”, think about why it is illegal. Safety! Plain and simple! As mentioned in some of the posts above, all that rusted metal and even asbestos contained in these historic monsters have made it a hazard for the public to venture.

    As a servicemember who is nearing the end of my 20 year career with the Navy, the visions that these men have brought to light should be honored and remembered what exactly it is we are looking at. Those vessels at one time where the backbones to our life of freedom as Americans. Our fathers, grand-fathers and even great grand-fathers once called those ships of war home while spending many months and years away from our loved ones protecting our very lifestyle. Personally, I am saddened yet very proud when I lay my eyes on these photos. Remembering and imagining the historic leaders of our military, the young men and women who laid their heads to rest on those spaces. These ships are long forgotten, but these photos bring to life the honor of our heritage. The fact that people are so fixated on the “environmental” hazards that these floating pieces of history possess is evidence that Americans have already lost sight of how lucky there are to be Americans and why. For decades men and women have volunteered to protect our countries freedoms, and these are the tools they used to do so. So honor them, remember them, even for a moment, at least pretend to be patriotic!

    Prior to 9-11 there was little patriotism in America. Then, magically, overnight, the same yards I read signs saying “military go away” where turned around and now saying “we support you”. That high was only temporary, and now we are back to where we were, complacent Americans taking every advantage of our way of life.

    So to those true Americans who honor their past, and look upon these photo’s as a tribute to our history, from an active duty war veteran, I honor you! Thank you to all those who have served in the past, present and future! Fair winds and following seas to these amazing vessels of old…and thank you to the crew who was daring enough to engulf on this voyage to bring forth images of our history!

    • American said on 

      Well said….. I agree “Americans” as some call themselves have lost sight on what is important so many people are so interested in saving a buck now a days that they don’t give a shit about people anymore….. Think about it if it wasn’t for the people that have big enough balls to serve we wouldn’t have anything and I mean anything ….. Us Americans need to respect our military and not expose them like we do or always have something negative to say it is what it is and has been for a very long time…… That’s a funny statement about the signs I know exactly what Ur talking about u know what makes me really laugh is that the place where that was happening was an island that had started
      Out as a military base n then people started buying realstate there and living on the island and then started tryin to tell the military to leave because there was too much noise…. Forgetting the fact that if there was no military in the first place they wouldnt even have the right to put a sign in there yard that stats there opinion …… Huh

  190. Brian said on 

    Nice photos – however the fact that you were too lazy to try and get LEGAL, permission from authorities to do this, undermines the legitimacy of your “work” if you can call it that. Why didn’t you just contact public affairs to do this? Act professional and you might get positive results! Don Wilder’s “Off Limits” tv show was just out there and they got aboard the USS Iowa and they went through the proper channels. Your arrogance in proudly boasting about “sneaking aboard” and sleeping aboard, it just makes this even less legit. Your illegal actions are going to make it worse for the next person who tries it and gets caught. However once officials find out about your stunt, this will probably end any form of cooperation for anyone else hoping to do a photo shoot out there. I hope somebody sends a link to your images to Navy officials. I’d like to see you try breaking into the AMARG facility in Tucson and see what happens to you there! As much appreciation as I do have for adventures like this, you and your buddies belong in jail for trespassing.

  191. murph said on 

    I don’t know why you didn’t do what I did. I requested to go on the ships from the Capt. of MSC of the area and was allowed to take pics and was taken to all the ships I wanted to go on. This was about 93-95, I even used infrared film in one of my cameras to make ghostlier photos. They did ask me to be kind and not make look like the Clinton admin was allowing decay of the ships. But they pretty much let me take the photos I wanted.

  192. andy said on 

    Great adventure story, counted exploring as my favorite activity when I was a kid. Lived in Davis (1962) and used to pass a bit with row on row of destroyers where ever they were!
    Anyway , very interesting Thanks!

  193. j said on 

    Great photos and sad commentary to the state of these ships. But I also agree the the non stop liberal inclusion of Bush into everything bad makes me want to puke. You can not justify it unless you are a total far left nut and then everything makes sense in your world. I would like to know what the fix is. If it is money, then who pays for it, the 50% of Americans who pay for everything now. Or the other half that pays for nothing and gets the lions share of the abused government hand outs. I include the rich in there if the shoe fits.

  194. Alvin said on 

    All I got to say is WOW. nice job guys. Balls of steel for sure. I want to go with you guys next time.

  195. ROB said on 

    kool picts wish you had more from he USS IOWA i serverd on here and was part of the decom crew when she was decomissioned the last time i was part of the tank and void crew we had to open inspect pump and clean every void and tank on the ship so we saw parts of the ship that werent seen since it was commisioned the first time.

  196. mike said on 

    wow…congrats on the adventure. sad to see the Iowa on that condition, she was a fine ship. i was also surprised to see the sea shadow lay unguarded like that.

  197. fubb said on 

    Thanks for sharing your adventure and pictures, i love seeing and enjoyed viewing them and thinking of the era of which ships were active. i am not going to criticize you for you adventure, you had your reasons for doing what you did, and i respect that, just like some of the polite folks that countered you decision for what you did.

  198. P Kahoe said on 

    Well this is really a great and interesting, But breaking the Law and trespassing on federal property are Felonies!

  199. Chevy said on 

    As A proud American, I just want to say this, After over 40 years of being here and seen in the all of the movies of WW2 and even some of WW1 and with lot of American soldiers on those wonderful boats. I know I may not make a lot of sense of talking about this blog. I’m very disappointed in way they did to all of the ships that protected and fight during those hard times. Instead of trying to preserve history and letting them have there glory. They used them for target practice or like they said. Just sit there and let them rust and forgetting.

    The only battleships is being very well preserve is the ones in pearl harbor. Those were men and women serve on those mighty ships that protected them and even the enemy side as well. People need to also relieze that there is lot of other battleships in all of oceans floor. But I do understand those are the permanent grave-sites for those brave men and women that serve all of the great nations of this world.

    But what gets me is. Have all of us forgotten what those ships did for all of us back then? I know on all of the national holidays that we honor the men and women that made sure that freedom is made possible for all of us. But if it wasn’t for those ships that we cross the seas. Mankind of all of the nations of the world be just be at a stand still. Who cares back then that the paint was toxic, or it used harmful stuff that hurt the water. Today we put more stuff in the water now then back then. Think about it?

    Back then on all of those wars that we all been in. Which one is the best on land or on water? Congress is worried about how to cut spending. I haven’t seen a dang thing at all. Now they are cutting the space program and in a few years there will be a story about the space shuttle and its glory years. But by that time everyone will forget all about the space shuttle program. If I had 10% of all the rich people of the world, I would try or even purchase all of them and try my best to preserve them or maybe even get them up to date of today. Because they maybe old but if they still can float and protect us. Hell yes I bring them back to life even though the military has forgotten what is American pride back then. Or is it really that we have truly don’t care how history was back then.

    Oh almost forgot. In the movies, even though they used props in the wars of back then. Least the movie company’s is trying to make sure that some of us do remember back then. Some day I would like to see all of the mighty battleships and others as well. To feel what have been back in the war time of the world.

  200. D.Holt said on 

    Every summer as a young lad, began as it ended, as I and my father, who he and his father were Merchant Marine Seaman, surved on ships such as these, would navigate our Criss-Craft cabin cruiser up the San Joaquin River from San Rafeal past these ships to Betthel Island and back, would regale me with such storie of nights & days spent on these ships as they served, and servived many tour’s of duty. To these men and to these stories do I exist to pass down the legacy of service to this, the Finest of Nations, and to the dedictation & protection by proud fathers & sons, for my son, who himself is a Navy Diver serves on ships like these, albeit newer, to tell stories of his own to his son & grandsons to come.
    Should these ships go the recyler,(and perhaps be forged anew into proud ships once more) their service lives on in the stories we tell of a times of battle & peace, in service of this, the greattest republic since Roman times this world has ever seen. These ships, as do their men, served, and served well.
    Great Job documenting these ships!

  201. T Hughes said on 

    Thankyou for allowing us to see these spectacular images. Some of us live in places that would never allow us to experience this treasure. I experienced a bit of jealousy when I read your story about how you were able to obtain these pictures. This was quite the adventure for you three, and I can completely appreciate the racing heartbeats and levels of hightened awareness you experienced from the raised levels of adrenaline in your veins while sneaking past the patrols. It takes a strong sense of bravery to commit to something like this when it is not required of you. Indiana Jones would be proud. And you have proved here that a treasure isn’t always something you can touch, but can only feel from another’s experience. My own dream is to visit Prepyat, Ukraine one day and have a bit of the same experience in that wonderland of crumbling chaos that has not seen more than wildlife for many years. If you ever get the chance, I recommend taking pictures there. It would be an unforgettable experience I can only imagine. Cheers and thanks again

  202. Randall said on 

    Yep.. this should spur a whole lot of kids trying to get on those ships now.. Better beef-up security! :=)

  203. DosGuy said on 

    I had seen a documentary on the “Sea Shadow” and Wikipedia has a good article about it. I searched for “Sea Shadow” and it came up. Sea Shadow (IX-529) is the class. Speaking of class, way t go guys! I’d have liked to have been along to explore also. It’s like guys in a junkyard…..old stuff will always be a treat to see.

  204. ditto said on 

    I guess breaking the law and tresspassing is consider journalism.

  205. gil said on 

    the fact remains that they broke numerous laws and then tried to use the story to blame Bush ( again) for something that was there when he got in and Obummer gets credit for fixing something he doesn’t even know exists. They are criminals, plain and simple. how much did they steal while they were there?

    This would indeed have been a great story had they gotten official permission. Now, just imagine if these guys had been sneaking explosives or the parts for a nuke on board on of these, to hide it.

  206. gil said on 

    One last thought, maybe we didn’t do anything with these ships while Bush was in….because….WE MIGHT NEED THEM. What you whiny liberals forget is there are lot of countries out there who would love to take us over, China, Russia still among them. World Wars are still possible. By trashing these ships, we simply make ourselves weaker in a dangerous world.

  207. i weiss said on 

    My father worked at nite during world war II-scraping and painting. He did this to add income. Not sure which ships; but, am grateful for you photo essay

  208. Chris said on 

    Wow! Amazing! You had a great adventure thanks to George Bush!!! It must be killing you that you actually had fun because of him. You should be thanking him.
    How about this? Now that you have made people aware that these historical treasures are going to be scrapped under Obama, why not start a movment to save them? Well that would be a dilema for liberals. How to make Obama look good at saving ticking toxic time bombs. You people in San Fran are so far from reality it is amazing. Get a life.

  209. lance burton said on 

    I Wanna Go!

    So much for Homeland Security.

    Hey, can you sneek into the Air Forces Cemetery?

  210. Eric said on 

    I just threw up on my laptop!

  211. Denis P said on 

    those ships are worth millions ,, each in just scrap steel,,,
    the government should sell them,,, and pay down the national debt,,,

  212. Charles said on 

    Loved seeing the old girls again! I grew with them in the bay and would dream of getting on board as I looked at them at that rest spot by Lake Herman Rd and 680 in Benicia.Great Photos, guys!

  213. kaydee ravenbryt said on 

    y’all are pretty incredible I’m glad that people like you concerned with history still exist. The adrenalin must have been otherworldly, and i only wish i could document something so amazing for future generations. I really hope you get away with it haha.
    ~Kaydee Ravenbryt

  214. Chris said on 

    The photos, I felt, were very good. I am a very low-level photographer, and I can’t appreciate the artistry behind them, but I thought they were good.

    That said… as a law-abiding citizen, I am very disappointed in how easily some people rationalize this kind of behavior. Is this killing a person or committing battery? No. Not even close. But you’re still violating federal law. What makes your actions even more befuddling is how you are apparently using your real names on this website and not blurring out your faces. I cannot say that I do not hope that you are prosecuted for this violation of the law. Your rationalization of the worth of this undertaking based on your previous experience and your ability to evade the law is disheartening to me as an American who wishes Americans would regain their sense of responsibility.

    Someone above made an excellent comment, and I join in it:

    Should you sell any of these photos or bring in any revenue as a result of this undertaking, I truly hope that you donate it all to organizations trying to maintain these vessels for historical reasons, especially the Iowa, as she has the greatest chance of being turned into a museum/war memorial.

  215. G said on 

    I would love to see you publish a coffee table book, please. do it now. hey! what are you doing? if not making the coffee table book you are misdirecting your efforts. Thanks in advance,

  216. Pleasantp said on 

    I have skimmed most of the 300 odd posts to your adventure. Its hard to believe some of the idiotic comments. Sure, you are guilty of trespassing, but that’s insignificant compared to the crimes committed by Obama, Holter and others in ignoring the Rule of Law and disregarding the Constitution. Our country is on the brink of collapse because of the increasing national debt, failure to fix the illegal immigration problem, coddling (even encouraging) Muslims, suppressing free speech because of “political correctness” and increasing the size of government. These are the issues we should address — not kicking your trespassing dead horse around. And the governments “knee-jerk” reaction is pathetic. OK, beef up security but why stop visits by organizations trying to preserve history? It doesn’t make sense — oh wait — I guess it does to this administration. With many of our elected officials of both parties and business leaders either crooked, liars, self-serving or oversexed, we have no roll models left!

    Anyway, that’s what I think. Your pictures are great and expose the lack of maintenance and upkeep the government promised when this fleet was established. As a WW2 and Korea Vet , I served on both the USS Hornet and the USS President Hayes and I applaud your efforts.

  217. Toaster said on 

    Sir I would like to thank you for sharing the great pictures, after reading the story I see why so many are at a low angle. There was many times while I was driving to Sacramento that I passed the fleet and wondered what was on those old ships, thank you for putting that wonder to rest.
    I also would like to thank you for your service to our country despite what others are saying about us being duped meat puppets for the man…
    Lastly why must everything come down to politics Obama, Bush, Cheny, Biden, Gore blah blah blah, I don’t care, as a voter and a vet I get to bitch, but chose not to….

  218. FilmRookie said on 

    It’s interesting to see a rare vessel such as a SEA SHADOW sitting in that bay as well. Talk about a museum piece!

  219. Tp3139 said on 

    Why dont you go chase some Japanese wailing ships
    and get all the liberal babes horney.
    What in your little liberal minds brings you to the conclusion
    that George Bush had anything to do with them not being cleaned up?
    What about Kenedy, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton. Why didnt they clean them up?

  220. j. michael said on 

    I enjoyed the slide show also, but couldn”t you have obtained permission, saying that you were doing a documentary? I would have liked to have seen more of the USS Iowa, as I live in the state for which it was named. Currently there is something going on here to try to save her, through pamphlets and flyers. It would be great if we could save , at least, her. Lots of history !

  221. j. michael said on 

    I wouldn’t put to much stock in TP3139′s comment. He can’t even spell WHALING correctly!! Must be a Tea Party misfit that is as dumb as Sarah Palin!

  222. Dean said on 

    You know people, all politics, trespass and other such items aside. The fact is that going onboard these ships is not only potentially dangerous but could be downright deadly. these things will collect inert and toxic gasses in closed spaces that WILL NOT support life. I was in the U.S. Navy as a Machinists Mate and can tell you first hand that we had blowers not only for ventilation but to also keep the buildup of gasses to a minimum. Anything that decays gives these gasses off and if you go below any of the weatherdecks (places where there is no longer any natural ventilation) you run the risk of being exposed to this problem. I would imagine that some of these ships still have an active fire-suppression system ie: CO2 or Halon and if they leak it would do to you exactly what it would do to a fire… put you out. Even water in bilges not to mention the mold that you documented will produce this same problem, it’s just common sense and biology… not rocket-science. The pictures were good but I doubt worth the risk if you really sat down and thought about it at length. These things are off-limits for a reason. As stated above they do allow visits that are guided and I would bet for this reason among others. I spent a little time on the USS MIDWAY as well as USS CIMARRON and do know a bit about old ships and why you shouldn’t be screwing around on them, death and accidents happen to people who DO know what they are doing let alone those who don’t. Not taking any sides with this but for the next group that tries to do something like this… think it through before you put yourself or someone else at risk. Again, nice pictures and thanks for the post… illegal that it was. :)

  223. samuel smith said on 

    i see now why this country is going down fast. the things on those ships can help a lot of people with nothing. thay say be careful what you wish for-god will bless america-by exposing it. this is sick,sick.

  224. Connor said on 

    Man, I love how many of the comments are focused on politics and Bush and all this other crap that has nothing to do with the risks taken to get on these ships or the experience of exploring the past. Congrats on your endeavors; From the photos, they look like they were well worth it. I drive by the fleet almost everyday and had given up all hope of doing what you’d done when I heard of the levels of security they had around the ships… Maybe now the interest of exploring the ghost ships that have held my interest for years can be rekindled. I hope I can be as lucky as you in exploring our proud past – military, maritime, or otherwise – sometime soon. That is unless they ramp up security after seeing this article… haha.

  225. Kagome D said on 

    Thanks so very much for sharing your story and these picture of our past! I know You can`t go back after this Story. I am glad you went to do it and got away with it!

  226. Johnny Vermont said on 

    I loved the photos and the accompanying story. Fantastic.

    I was also enjoying the comments until they turned political. That ruined my adventure.

  227. David Magruder said on 

    What a bunch of wusses! Adventure?? You guys need to get out of the city sometime and find some real adventure. Believe me, those private security companies could have cared less that you rubber boat political dummies were taking some photos, as they were all relaxing in their own ‘captain’s quarters’ and didn’t want any hassles. They saw your cameras and cheap rubber boats and moved on. And the pictures, pitiful. Hardly any shots showing the real grandeur of the ships, their profiles, their decks, their function, their engines rooms. I guess such shots would have been too dangerous!! Anyway, thanks for a good laugh! See, I didn’t even mention the stupid political shots!

    • A Guy Who Read This said on 


    • Al said on 

      I totally agree with your comment. They need to go in the woods and hug a tree and try and save Bambi.
      They did this for the world and for Obama.

      • Ivanhoe said on 


      • Riff Raff said on 

        This can only say someone who is sitting home day in day out, doing nothing but flaming in forums and on great articles.

        I have made trips like this in my hometown (not that spactacular like this one…*sigh*) and i can tell you it IS thrilling and exciting.

        BTW: making good photos is not that easy. I´m nosey how good are yours. Send some and we will see…
        I like the pictures very much!

  228. Genesis said on 

    Honestly… Excellent photos, you guys. Ignore the spastics, whining about breaking the law, and how access was closed. You guys didn’t want to waste time with official shit. I see nothing wrong with it.
    And for the rest of you..

    Why are you here, instead of trolling on YouTube, or rewriting Wikipedia?

    I, personally, have wanted to get into UrbEx for awhile now, though am a bit too young [ 14. Few years, who knows. ] And my hometown happens to have nothing interesting to explore.

    You guys, however, find something cool, get in, do what you need to do, and get out, while avoiding injury. The facts are simple.
    You got in. You somehow managed not to die. You got out. So what if some shit’s not accessible anymore? Give it a few weeks.

    And if you’re gonna spazz out about “breaking the law”, go tell it to the real lawbreakers, the murderers, the rapists, the thieves who actually stole something other than… What was it? “Peace of mind”? God forbid they demonstrate the low security level of such a “hallowed” place. If it’s so damn special, why could a few random citizens get in and out unscathed?

    • Genesis said on 

      Oh, wait, I know. They were CAREFUL. A word that doesn’t seem to pop up much, in this generation.

  229. Paul M said on 

    A very cool story indeed. The stuff of boyhood fantasy!

    Did you know before you set out that you would have the Sea Shadow amongst the ships to be explored? Were you able to gain access and, if so, did you find anything memorable?

    Thanks for being explorers.

  230. rattler said on 

    unfortunately we are the most wasteful country in the world

  231. A Guy Who Read This said on 

    This is the lamest article I’ve ever read…and most of your photos suck too. Seriously, you guys are under the impression that you’re Navy SEALS or something b/c you snuck onto a few boats that no one cares about, and you use every chance to bash Bush and praise Obama. Douchebags.

    • kevin B said on 

      so just cause they planned it out and went through with it cleverly, that makes them navy seals? well i guess that makes graffiti writers elite navy seals then…the planning they put into their locations would make you shit dolphins…

  232. Rick Garcia said on 

    Great story and photos. But you just could not resist to get political and blame Bush for doing nothing. Well if these ships have been here for decades then why is it only Bush’s fault. What about Clinton, Carter, Congres, or any of your other lib socialist heros. Hipocrit!!!

    • Rick Garcia said on 

      Oh in case one of stupid libs want to point out my spelling mistake “hypocrite” well there you have it. Otherwise kiss my ass!!

      • kevin B said on 

        i would love to point out that all he did was mention that bush did nothing about the decaying ships. That is a true statement. Its as true as saying Macho Man never won the World Series. It was a statement of truth, not blame. read it again…

  233. Shelby said on 

    What a cool look into the past..its a shame these ships are just being left to rot.

  234. Pingback: Morning Links | The Agitator

  235. Ivan said on 

    It is no small observation or wonder that this crew hails from the San Franfreako area. You would’ve believe that these ships were built post 9/11 and left excess of our military spending. While critizing the “Bush Era” for its “obvious” responsibility for exponentially destroying the ecology of this bay area (vs. the past 50 years?), this group stealthly evades Obama Era authority and trespasses from “prying eyes” (whose eyes are prying?)to document the decaying, grotesque beauty of these monstrous structures of war. “Journalist” playing out the dream of every young boy….. Yes, lets scrap ‘em and NOT sell the metal to China’s war machine and return Walmart product at $0.85 a lbs. Instead, let us utilize it for our own narcissistic race of home gyms, at affordable costs!

  236. JD said on 

    So cool. You did what every kid growing up within sight of these ships has dreamed of doing. I think it was worth the risk to get these photos before these ships are gone forever.

  237. Zal said on 

    WOW !!! Awesome!!

    I did something similar, its regarding the dismatntling of some San Francisco World Expo structures. Instead of boats I had to climb 30 ft fences and avoid being arrested for ‘trespasing’; similary, I also got official access to aircraft bone yards – maybe i should publish those photos one of these days.

    At any case, what a waste these ships are being metal scrapped. After making sure fuel and asbestos is all removed, they would be much better put to use as sunken ships in proper waters to become artificial reefs. Maarine life loves such reefs creating incredible fisheries and communities, they also deter abusive net fishing, they promote sport diving, they control ocean floor erosion, etc., etc.
    read February 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine ..

    Also, maybe some of those ships should be spared, refurbished, and land docked as museums that promote the spirit of Freedom and the repulsion of tirany and repression.

    I also agree that ships that are stored for potential recommisioning should be well sealed, identified and protected for potential future use and all should respect those ships. How many can that be?

    WE paid for those ships, in taxes and in American blood. They are the property of the American people, not the government. WE have the right to see them, to put in our opinions as to what to do with them. NO, the Government should not be allowed to block access just because .. no extremist so called “environmentalist” should dictate the final outcome …

    I wish someone would do a complete story on one ship that has become a artificial reef, birth to grave – from being manufactured, wars and battles, decommisioning, prep to be sunk, sinking, and a few years of developing into a marine artificial reef .. ohh yeahh .. that would be huge!

    Hey, great job .. don’t allow any of the political doom get to you .. keep at it !


  238. Ryan Russell said on 

    As a former Machinist Mate in the Navy, these photos bring back some wonderful memories. I was a “pit snipe,” meaning I worked in the engine rooms, aboard the USS John F Kennedy. Is was really nice to see the collection of photos and history you have pieced together. Thanks so much from a former Sailor!

  239. Diana said on 

    Soooo cool! I’ve driven past the mothball fleet for 30 years and have always been fascinated by them. Heard they were rat-infested. It’s a shame the ships couldn’t be docked somewhere and used as housing rather than fall into disrepair, but you did get some amazing photos. Congrats on your courage and talent!

  240. Brian said on 

    I was raised in Concord and we used to pass the mothball fleet when we went to Sacramento (in the days before I-80). I recall mile after mile of troop ships, landing craft and submarines lined up along the shore practically to the entrance of the Sacramento River. Sometime in the 1070s most of these were pulled out and scrapped. I though all of them were long gone. I was surprised to learn that there are still that many left. I never knew about the Iowa.

    I served in the Navy during the Vietnam era and abord the USS Constellation (CV-64) in 1974. The Connie is now up in Bremmerton with many of her sisters awaiting the same fate as these ships.

    Thanks for the photos.

  241. christi said on 

    We come from a long line of Navy family, there was a line of ghost ships in the harbor of bremerton wa, my husband which served on the uss texas loved to take our son and stare at the ghost ships in the harbor….it was an amazing site! Our ship the uss texas was sold for scrap in 1991, we missed the ceremony, of the de comissioning, but hold that ship in our hearts! Your pictures are truley amazing and you should win some type of award for your journal and photos…. we loved your site and hope that you will carry on in documenting the most important part of our nation, our troops and the lives and stories that show why we are free today… many say that if the ghosts could speak, however there are still many alive men that have seen many wars, just no one ever asks and writes down the stories to pass on to the next generation! mayb a book and documentary film should be in your next adventure!!! keep us posted and kudos for such a wonderful story!!!!!! Christi

    • catman said on 

      Great comment. I feel the same. This history runs a chill up my spine and I can smell the oil and the stench (in a good way). Being raised on the ocean (it’s really not a “sea”), we have allegiance to those who push the limit (and the bureaucratic buttons).

      However, I am deeply grateful that these two men have brought my eyes in to the vessels that I’ve longed to see.

      Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  242. D.G. said on 

    This is to the “Medical geniuses” and “Microbiologist” Know that Mesothelioma comes from years of exposure. second those little microorginisms are always around you, how do you know if they were wearing maskes or not did you ask no. Yes it is unfortunate that it made it harder for others to get access but they did it, now the time has passed and has already been done. Complaining and claiming they are committing felonies is not going to change what they already did. Breaking and entering on civilian and or government property is the same class 3 civil mis. look up any revised statues and you will know that. To the Search and rescue person, bashing people for being reckless and not hiding under a pillow due to some danger is not going to do anything and if it wasn’t for people like them you and the hospitals would truely be out of a job. it sounds to me like you dislike the fact that your job requires you to searche for them, if you don’t like doing search and rescue for those kinds of people which is like 90% then find a new career. Would anyone really curse, and bash someone who goes camping and has a campfire? No, cause thats ok but think about this if that fire doesn’t go out all the way one little amber could start a fire that is devistating to the wildlife and people around it. There is always danger and risks in living life if you hide then nothing is ever found. I leave you with this to ponder in your heads, If our founding fathers and every other person in this country stayed away from danger and unlivable conditions to fight for a new country and freedom from the British would we be a free nation to explore and speak as we wish? Would America still stand or would it be another British Colony? George Washington took great risks, and put his men in very dangerous and unhealthy situations. Risks and danger are always there its up to that person wether or not the rish is worth the reward. To this man the risk were worth the reward.

    • catman said on 

      I love your outlook. I was raised with a similar perspective from my grandfather and father. We took risks but not stupid risks. We were responsible and still are responsible for our actions. More power to ‘em!

  243. Mariner said on 

    Itys unfortunate that you blame Bush for these ships sitting here, he actually didn’t do it. Check your facts, (and I’m no fan of any politician, “poly means many and a tic is a parasite….”) But that blame lies with Mr. Bill Clinton and his compatriot, the “inventor of the internet”. THEY passed a Presidential Mandate that we could no longer sell those ships abroad to foreign scrappers because we could not control how they scrapped them (the rest of the world has no such issues, and dozens of old tankers and worse are scrapped overseas today) But we made money for the country selling those ships. NOW we have to PAY the folks to scrap them and they get the stuff off them too. Smells like fish doesn’t it. So it was not the ‘demon’ you seek who did it. Sorry have to keep the history of it straight.

    • kevin B said on 

      hes not blaming bush, he just stated that the bush administration did nothing about the problems the ships were causing.

      just as bush did nothing about my dirty dishes and laundry…its completely true, although it could have gone without saying, and it was just a statement.

      once the bush name was mentioned, i bet all you “bush fanatics” didnt even read the rest and went straight down here to comment.

  244. MikeK said on 

    I think this whole project was done for no reason other than to make a political statement. If that was not the case, there would be no Bush blaming or other political commentary about the pictues by Scott and the other criminals who participated in this project. Only the delusional left can do something illegal and yet somehow try to paint it as a noble cause. The end always justifies the means to the delusional fringe. All of you that were part of this will probably end up in a respirator, trying to sue the government or anyone you can think of because, after all, it’s not your fault that they left the ships where you could sneak in and board them like you did. It would be ironic it your lawsuit began while you were in prison for breaking whatever laws you seemed determined to break. I guess after this project, you guys went back to the boats trying to play tag with whaling ships, huh? F*cking idiots!

    • Terra said on 

      I think the author was just stating facts wow, Each Administration has good and bad.

    • Chloe said on 

      “Only the delusional left can do something illegal and yet somehow try to paint it as a noble cause.”

      Um, hello? The Iraq war?

  245. Terra said on 

    Hey Super cool article and photos! Wish I could get those chairs in the galley on the Lincoln. I am a former Navy vet and appreciate the nostalgia. Don’t listen to some of the lame comments on here from what I see most of us thoroughly enjoyed this.

  246. B.O. said on 

    great photos but you should be tried for trespassing on gvt property as your photos are the proof of your actions..and way to go bringing politics into it… morons.

    • kevin B said on 

      i cant believe that there are people like you, that just HAVE to leave a negative comment on something so positive…”you should be tried for trespassing on gvt property as your photos are the proof of your actions…” This is really pathetic of you to have to say something like that. These guys went out and did something awesome, and you want them arrested because they trespassed on gvt property? If they wanted to go out and put themselves in such perils, to preserve the memory of a dying fleet of ships, let them be. This was no selfish act, and obviously interested a LOT of people.

      Just because you probably didnt live your life the way you dreamed, dont try and take it from others.
      Excellent job guys…I always dream of being an urban explorer(due to my graffiti mission days), and have taken some nice pics from some shut down factories here in Texas. One day i’ll have the time and money to achieve this goal. Thanks for the inspiration guys!

      • Will said on 

        Great photos! I volunteer at a local military museum and can attest to the HUGE undertaking it would be to attempt to restore any of the vessels. Keep up the good work and be safe. My grand parents lived in San Pablo, I remember as a kid, we’d go out on their boat ans cruise around these ships…there were lots more back in the late 60′s and early 70′s. Good Sturgeon fishing in that area!

        U.S. Gov. property…doesn’t that make them MY property too as well as all the other taxpayers? It’s kinda like public schools, public pays for them, but public can’t go use the BB courts or ball fields ’cause they are locked down after 1530.

        Keep up the good work!

        Wanna see more urban photography? I stumbled on this a few years back.

  247. Keri said on 

    I just happened across this and let me tell you your story about trying to board these amazing vessels and the photos you were able to take are glorious. It shows a piece of our history and what has happened to those ships that once were. I would have loved to explored the ships. The photo of the SS President Lincoln – I’ve never seen steps like that in a ship before and that ship looks pretty well preserved (somewhat).
    Just overall amazing. Thank you for sharing this.
    I never knew about this place but I am down here in southern California (the OC).

  248. RADM Frank Johnston, USMS (Ret) said on 

    As the last Western Region Director of the Maritime Administration, I am a little surprised that you had such an easy time boarding the NDRF ships. While you got some great shots, you really put yourself in peril in more than one way–tresspassing. Some of these ships still contain aspestos, PCB’s and bird droppings that can be very harmful if disturbed. In addition, some of the decks and holds of the ships are very weak and probably could not hold your weight. I hope that you had a cell phone to call for help though I can tell you that cell phones DO NOT work below decks. I have been on most of the ships you visited–even the Sea Shadow and HMB-1. The S.S. has been completely stripped of all gear and has been up for auction twice–no takers.
    I would caution anyone from trying this type of stunt again. It could be very damgerous and was the main reason I denied access to the ships during my tenure as Director.

    • catman said on 

      “Aspetos”. That’s what I put on my son’s sandwich. Basil and garlic with a little olive oil. (or was that “Olive Oyl?” Risk is part of discovery. We often become complacent “worrying” about too many risks and if we hurt ourselves doing things like these two folks have done, well… it’s our own fault.


  249. Aaron said on 

    Awsome photos. It makes me sad to see such fine ships rotting away, especially the USS Iowa. At least one of her sisters, the USS Missouri is a museum in Pearl Harbor. Seeing these photos was just as sad as the time that I found out the the USS Enterprise (CV-6) was scrapped in the 1950s. Hopefully, these photos will raise support to preserve some of these ships for future generations.

  250. Cassandra said on 

    I really enjoyed this article and would love to read the entire story if you guys ever make it into a book or story which I think that you should. I know you took a masive risk at getting this information and I only hope that you don’t get into any kind of trouble because I frankily think that someone shoul do a story on the Goast Fleet considering they fought through 4 major wars and will soon all be scrap in a junkyard waiting to be melted down. Kudos to you three brave men and a big Thank You for sharing this information with us.

  251. Cody said on 

    Its sad that these ships aren’t freely open to the public to view. Great job! I wish i could do this!

  252. 3passa said on 

    You guys are my heroes ;)
    Thanks for the fascinating read and the awesome photos, glad you pulled this off and share it now.

  253. Ray said on 

    Just imagine what it was like serving on these ships when they were at their peaks! To bad that there isn’t a way to be able to hire a guide and go on these ships without the worry of being in trouble if caught.

    • Michael said on 

      My ship, the USS Wabash AOR 5, is the 2nd ship currently anchored over from the USS Iowa. Less than 2 months ago we had the 40th Anniversary of the USS Wabash Commissioning in Wabash Indiana, its namesake. I was able to get together with several of my shipmates that I had not seen in over 35-years. Great memories and it breaks our hearts to watch our old ship rust away.

  254. EMC said on 

    It seems like every possible internet basement troll has come here to either tear you down for some perceived political sleight, or rip into you for trespass, or wag a finger and scold you over the danger you put yourselves in. I hope you’re ignoring all that. I’d never have done it myself, and that’s precisely why you all have these incredible photographs and I don’t. I’m just grateful you decided to share these images and hope no harm or complications come to you as a result of your doing so.

  255. Tom said on 

    To Calm the Crowd
    There is an investigation in the progress on this incident. Once the investigation is complete charges will be issued and a court date will be set. Procedes will be forfeited and any equipment used in the time of the illegal activities will be seized and criminal charges will be delt with accordingly. This process will take several months to complete.

    • Capnsavseemm said on 

      @Tom – who are you, J. Edgar Hoover?

    • Tim T said on 

      Now that is some bad grammar. Just to clear up any confusion any official investigation or charges that may be filed would more than likely be done in a manner that wouldn’t be posted in this blog. That means that Tom here either doesn’t know what he knows or worse yet he does know something and he’s not smart enough to stay out of the blogs before any investigation is complete or any charges are filed. Either way he’s just another idiot playing mind games with the “We’re coming to get you” insinuation. He’s probably staring into a mirror and pointing at himself with his aviator glasses on because he’s so impressed with himself.

    • catman said on 

      Oh sheesh! Anal retentive bureaucrat. Get a live. This nation wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for people who questioned those in power.

  256. Duke said on 

    I’m just wondering how many of the people leaving “negative” comments about you “trespassing” even knew these ships existed.
    Or cared that they did if they knew..
    Maybe you have stired the puddin enough for some actions to be taken to save some of the ships.
    Or hasten their disposal. Who knows. About the only thing for sure is that the government doesn’t want you there or anyone to see them.
    Hope you don’t get mesotheloma.

    • D Setest said on 

      I never thought that the ships were that much of a secret. All ships get old and need to be disposed of. What is funny is how bad this article makes them seem. A bunch of ships with very little bottom paint doesn’t compare to the recreational boats in the area. They look like crap but they are pretty much just rotting away. The bottom paint is long gone.

  257. Erin said on 

    I’m gonna laugh when you get busted by the DOD for tresspassing on Federal Property and posting it online….and all over facebook, where I saw it.
    But I did enjoy seeing what is on those ships. :)

  258. Greg said on 

    I check the site every now and then to see what’s new. I really enjoyed these pictures and have been fascinated by the Mothball Fleet ever since I first saw it in 90’s while traveling north from SoCal. I remember when the Glomar Explorer was there also.

    I gotta ask though; you knowingly broke federal law and documented it on a web site? Really???

  259. Dan said on 

    is one of the guys in photo 30 wearing a Phish shirt

  260. D Setest said on 

    Did you ever think that you could just ask to get on the ships? But would that kill all the drama. I learned very little except how cool you guys are under pressure. Why not write MARAD and do a proper follow up?

  261. Pingback: Inside the Ghost Ships of the Mothball Fleet - MoPo | Geek News

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  263. Linette said on 

    hee hee!!!! Just look at ALL the bitter, political comments that people have replied with…how silly and unfortunate for them (in my opinion). As I was looking at these pictures and reading their descriptions and the stories of how they were obtained for my viewing pleasure, I wasn’t side-tracked or derailed entirely, due to some short comment of former President Bush and his lack of action about the remnants of these ships. Nope…all I could think about, was how great it must have felt each time you walked through yet another small doorway, and how exciting it felt when you would just leave after another exploration, and laughing together as you recapped the harrowing moments before your escape. It reminded me of when I would sneak out, as a teenager, and go hang out with my friends and doing nothing really “criminal”…just exploring and having adventures! I remember that in the few moments in my life that I was really hoping and trying to be quiet and undetected, I suddenly turned into the loudest, clumsiest person alive! But it was always worth it, because I love exploring. I love trying to piece together the story of what “used to be”. Imagining what would it have been like to exist in the moments that others had existed there, in the past.
    I think your pictures are great. I think your adventures sounded even greater! I think when it came to being discreet and invisible at the most intense moments, you all were practically “ninja’s”, compared to what I remember being. I hope that any negative comments you may receive, regarding your stories and pics from this, don’t make you feel hesitant about a future exploration. I would love to stumble upon some more pictures that you had taken…and (if one could be so lucky) gotten more people to bicker and argue over! :)

    Good luck to you…


  264. Tony said on 

    Interesting article about the ghost fleet. Perhaps part of the reason that the authorities have security in the area is the presence of the Sea Shadow, the prototype stealth ship developed by the US Navy. It is said to be stored in this area inside the Hughes Mining Barge. See for details. On Google Earth or Mapquest, you can pick out what looks like the HMB easily in the satellite view.

  265. Chris said on 

    Great photos. Absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing.

  266. Tim T said on 

    OK, For you guys perpetually stuck in the cold war here it is for the cheap seats. The Sea Shadow was top secret big news in the early and mid eighties. It’s outdated technology now and in it’s prime was at best a study in hull design and in radar profile feasibility and system automation reducing the number of crew it took to operate a vessel that size. It’s not top secret any longer and it hasn’t been hidden. The Navy has been trying to donate both the Sea Shadow and the HMB-1 as a single unit for display by a museum or similar entity. Theres no national security threat in the pictures or the knowledge of where and in what condition it is in as you can find all those things out with a simple internet search. That information has been available since long before these photos appeared on the internet. These gentlemen did what they did with a full understanding of the risks and consequences. That was their choice to make as it is your choice to do what you do every day legal or otherwise as an american citizen. Half you guys barking thanks for screwing it up for the rest of us have probably never even seen the boats in the bay let alone given a thought about visiting them so the best you could hope for is some decent pictures taken by guys like these of things you would never have seen on a tour with permission. If you doubt that then go back and look at the pictures that were taken with permission. You will find pictures taken in only the places that arent as tattered and worn that show the fleet the way they would rather everyone perceives them and not the inglorious condition many of the boats are actually in. Like it or not these pictures are the only way the majority of us will ever see what the reality of the situation is beyond the beauty of those silhouettes on the bay from the highway.

    • Michael Howell said on 

      Hey Scott!
      I loved the images and noticed you had taken many photographs from ships anchored near the USS Wabash AOR-5 along that same row.

      My ship, the USS Wabash AOR 5, is the 2nd ship currently anchored over from the USS Iowa. Less than 2 months ago we had the 40th Anniversary of the USS Wabash Commissioning in Wabash Indiana, its namesake. I was able to get together with several of my shipmates that I had not seen in over 35-years. Great memories and it breaks our hearts to watch our old ship rust away.

      QUESTION: Do you have any images from the Wabash? If so, we (the USS Wabash Association) would love to see them. We understand that the Wabash is due to be scrapped very soon and we all sure would like to see her one last time.

  267. Greg said on 

    I double dog dare them to go back and get more pics!

    I didn’t think so.

  268. Ronald Williams said on 

    Guys, one of the major reasons these vessels are off limits to sightseers is that most were built during the time when asbestos was used extensively as a piping insulator on steam, hot/cold water piping, etc. IT”S EVERYWHERE PIPING EXISTS ON OLDER SHIPS. Also, the electrical transformers used throughout older ships were built during an era when PCB’s and toxic chemicals were used to fill transformer cannisters. Since many of these ships were never modernized and have not been maintained for decades in some cases, it’s not a great idea to go tramping through long-neglected spaces where ventilation hasn’t allowed for the air to be exchanged constantly. Hope you don’t suffer any ill affects. Tyvex suits, respiratory protection, plastic gloves, etc. would normally be worn by shipyard workers who dismantle one of these fossils.

  269. Melanie Helmke said on 

    these pictures are amazing. It must have been so friggen great to be on those ships. Ive always wanted to. Do you know, are they going to preserve any of the things on the ship? The wall in picture 43? That great dresser! Those chairs! So much history to lose…

  270. catman said on 

    Great job guys! In my younger days, I used to crawl around decommissioned NIKE missile sites. The enormity and complexity of abandoned military installations was overwhelming. I’ve been on old Liberty Ships (legally) and still enjoy seeing how things were. Similarly, I’ve “brought back to life” old WW2 tank radios and transmitters.

    The stuff you’re doing gives us eyes in to the caverns of history.

    Discard the naysayers that are in to regulation and law for the sake of law. You have given us vision and have answered questions with your images that we have naturally-desired when viewing the fleet.

    Thank you.

    (an old fart)

  271. Henning Mathew said on 

    Guys, great pics! Awesome story! I admire what you guys did. I’ve been a bit of a urban/wilderness explorer myself but not to the extent you guys have taken it! Curiosity has always been something that has driven me to better understand the world around me. So I can completely relate. Thanks for sharing!

  272. robert brooks said on 

    i am interested in what saw of the condition of the iowa and the other ships. are they just rotting there and rust buckets. what was your impression. its seems the security is there but has a blind eye.

  273. Susan said on 

    The pictures and story are terrific and I thank you for sharing. I have lived in the Bay Area most of my life and have watched the fleet rotting for years, as a kid I wondered why we couldn’t get up close and experience the history. We are all Americans – with huge giant opinions about how our nation should be run – but ultimately we stand next to each other to defend our liberty. I don’t profess to know whether Bush should of done this, or Obama is doing that – it seems our opinions which keep us divided as a nation are the problem. If someone is a Bush lover they have that right, and when I tell them they are wrong I am not respecting their right to free speech. I have my opinions but realize it is just an opinion because unless I am sitting in the Oval Office with ALL the facts, not just MORE OPINIONS – I truly cannot begin to understand the rational behind the choices. Ultimately I know I am a lucky woman to have been born in the USA and I am grate to and respect those that are willing to work to preserve my liberties. God Bless the USA – even if its citizens really think their OPINIONS are the “right way” to run this country. They don’t know and I don’t know and I am glad that I realize my OPINIONS are not facts, simply just an opinion. Good Golly people shut up and enjoy the show!

  274. Blogengeezer said on 

    First trip from Midwest in 1965, noted the (Kaiser) Liberty Ships from WWII. Countless hundreds of them, side by side decaying into oblivion. Friends and relatives were transported to, and the fortunate live ones, back ‘from’ the Pacific theater. Young uncle (16) angrily quit HS and joined US Navy within days of Pearl Harbor. He then served in every major island invasion as landing craft operator and various other deadly duties. His teenaged troops told of days of sickness and boredom at sea in those Liberty ships, then physically thrown into countless battles for their lives in the surf.

    The US Navy is a history proud tradition. Those older ships and the present fleet, are the last remaining monuments to unimagined bravery of a past generation. Precious few of today’s generation are that so inclined. You were allowed by very fortunate circumstance, to tread on and preserve images of a proud tradition’s tools of their profession.

    That said, I enjoy the ghost fleets images you clandestinely aquired. You were extremely fortunate. In many countries, where Freedom is rare, your family would not ever be informed of your demise.. In some, they would suffer an even worse fate, by being related to you. Any political discourse had better be in support of our Great Nation in spite of it’s many faults, not some ego driven youth obvious drivel about a past political party’s errors, in favor of one that is appearing to ‘sell the farm’, so the dependency addicted, rampant among our current society, may prosper. Check out the Community Re-investment Act. A roadside IED planted in the Carter term and fertilized to power, then detonated in the 1999 year. Defended by congress as ‘in fine condition’ (Barney Frank) after the 2004 election. We realize that ‘legally’ Congress was really in charge, at least at that time, do we not?

    The future is unsure because of our own foolish decisions to attempt to guarantee every soul, productive or not, an ‘Acceptable Standard’ of living with every entitlement that productive taxpayers enjoy. Taxpayers bought those ships. Taxpayers Own them. Decisions of what they are eventually used for is up to the crrrently expanding and taxpayer subsidized, overwhelming ‘Bureaucrasy’ growing in our govt. A president has nothing to do with their disposal other than an agenda driven administration rubber stamping the bureaurocrats requests (demands?).

    Leave the politics out of your admitedly fascinating and very exciting projects, unless of course you are long tenured Economic (with knowledge of Keynes vs Hayek), Political, World and US History Professors. Northern Californian, Victor Davis Hanson comes to mind, just as a starter of course..

  275. Augie said on 

    I enjoyed reading the news article on your urban exploreration, and the photos are amazing. It brought back some memories. I was a navy reservist in the 70s and doing a two-week active duty tour on Mare Island when our group was assigned to go aboard some of the mothballed ships, including a WWII submarine, to look for spare parts. I found myself alone, below decks, and because the ships sat high in the water because of weight, or lack of it, any noise from outside the hulls reverberated throughout the interior, especially below the water line. You could almost hear the voices of the men that served on them.

    The story goes there was a retired navy chief who took a job as a security guard there after he left the navy. They say he was found deep below decks in one of the rooms, sitting in the dark, mumbling to himself. The ghosts no doubt had gotten to him.

    I was a creative writing student at San Francisco State at the time, and the experience gave me the idea for a short story, “Catwalk,” about a former sailor who visits his old submarine in mothballs, only to be reminded, tragically, of an incident out at sea that came back to haunt him.

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  277. Chrissy said on 

    Absolutely stunning collection of shots here. This is pretty much my dream project – although these situations are pretty few and far between where I live. I enjoy living vicariously through your adventures though! Great work!

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  279. Raven Lindley said on 

    You did what I’ve dreamed about doing every time I drove past the ships for 35 years. Thanks so much for letting me see something I always wondered about…what does it look like in there??

  280. Lyle said on 

    I served aboard the USS Taluga (AO-62) 1963-65, and was on station with the USS Maddox, when Battle
    Stations were sounded, and the Maddox was (suppossedly) attacked by torpedo boats off Hanoi. Whether
    that incident actually took place or not, I am here to tell you it was real to us then, sitting on all the JP5 (jet fuel) and imagining torpedos in the water. It was that incident that Lyndon Johnson used to declare war on
    North Vietnam (not Kennedy). All politics aside, I am thrilled to discover my ship still exists. I thought I read
    somewhere not long ago, that she’d been scrapped. Been past her resting spot many times, wondering if she was still there or not….to find she really is there, makes this old squid happy. She was an oiler, not some fast attack ship. But when you’re 3 days out from home port, steaming through the long swells, all ships are doing the same thing, that is, braving the high seas, in all types of weather. I rode out the fringe of a typhoon on the Taluga, when the forward well deck was buried beneath foaming water, and she would rise shuddering back up, point her bow high, then crash down again and another monstrous wave would slam over the starboard bow, and bury her again up to the O2 level. That was quite a ride. We refuled just about every type of vesel on duty in Westpac back then, from mine-sweepers to carriers, and had some great adventures. I’ve quite literally fried an egg on the fan-tail during the doldrums in the South China Sea (temp approaching 135F). The days spent at sea are some of my fondest memories now… many of you have seen the phosphoresence in the wake on a warm summer night? Or watched dolphins surf your bow wave, or had swim call in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with your mates standing shark patrol with M-1s? Or watched the heavy artillery exploding off Vietnam, or been lulled to sleep with the long deep rolling swells of the high Pacific.
    I could go on. I wish I could see the old gal again, but for now your photos and illegal insertions keep me somewhat in touch with the her. Her keel was layed in December of 1943….I was born in late Novemeber of that same year. I guess you could say we’re the same age. Thank you for the interest, the pictures, and your respect for those who sailed these mighty ships.
    Lyle Fleming RM3 USS Taluga (AO-62)

    • Tom Dailey said on 

      QSL that, Lyle. I was on VEGA (AF-59)… 300K cu.ft. of floating ‘fridge – not a Man-O-War, but we sure ate good. Did you ever reach over the lip of the fantail and TOUCH the Pacific? I did that on fantail watch, before I went to RMA school in SDIEGO. A haunting feeling that never leaves you.

      BRAVO ZULU, Shipmate QRU QRT AR

      Tom – RMC USN

  281. Tom Dailey said on 

    Oh, that you could have done this for my old home – USS VEGA (AF-59). They turned her into a Japanese fish-processing plant! Such an inglorious end for a grey lady of the sea. How about a shot or two of the Radio Shacks? Anchors Aweigh – BRAVO ZULU!

    TC – RMC USN

  282. Lyle said on 

    well…after further searching, found my old ship was dismantled in Brownsville in 2010.
    Sayonara Taluga. She’ll live on in my memories.

  283. pardock said on 

    funniest part is your intro…”as the Bush administration did little to address the crumbling ships.” well what did Clinton do about the ships? what has Obama done to move the ships? any results?

    press coverage of your project relies on these ships staying right where they are.

  284. Fernando said on 

    Love the pics and the great story. Thanks for being daring and providing the world w/ these pics.

  285. Ken said on 

    I remember as a kid, we found abandoned houses, and mines and we would sneak into them. I got a strange feeling, like time had stopped, or even gone backwards for a short while. These places were bubbles where normal events of cultural time went into a black hole and like stepping into a time machine, we went backwards into the lives of long ago forgotten people.

    All the political bs and the know it alls don’t have any imagination or sense of nostalgia that it takes to take the chance and travel that journey. They are the folks who have no imagination. They always travel the politically and emotionally ‘safe’ route.

    Kudos to you brave raiders of the lost arcs………

    • JJ said on 

      Another political BS sideshow. I was thinking this was pretty interesting till you got political and showed your true colors. Now I see your site as a joke and a waste of time as it was not reported with true open minded neutral professionalism. Again it would of been a great artistic piece of history if you would of keep your one sided politics out of it, now its tainted goods and I wish I could get the 5 minutes out of my life back, that it took to review your website ! Frankly I don’t believe any of your crap now that I see you biased agenda !

    • Stephen Freskos said on 

      You’ve captured the feeling exactly. This what I’m always telling people when they ask why I go to abandoned places. Hope you don’t mind if I quote you on this in the future.

  286. Michael Howell said on 

    Hey Scott Haefner!
    I loved the Ghost Fleet images and noticed that you had taken several photographs from ships anchored near the USS Wabash AOR-5 along that same row.

    My ship, the USS Wabash AOR 5, appears to be the 2nd ship currently anchored over from the USS Iowa. Less than 2 months ago we had the 40th Anniversary of the USS Wabash Commissioning in Wabash Indiana, its namesake. I was able to get together with several of my shipmates that I had not seen in over 35-years. Great memories and it breaks our hearts to watch our old ship rust away.

    QUESTION: Do you have any images from the USS Wabash? If so, we (the USS Wabash Association) would love to see them. We understand that the Wabash is due to be scrapped very soon and we all sure would like to see her one last time.

    • Scott Haefner said on 

      Hi Michael,

      I looked through my archives, and I didn’t find any photos of the Wabash…sorry!


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  289. Bohemond said on 

    Loved the essay. My old ship Kansas City (AOR-3), Wabash’ sister ship, is also anchored there, but not in the same nest as Wabash, Wichita and Roanoke.

    Minor quibble, though: Suisun Bay was never an anchorage for “warships” (Iowa being a temporary exception). Benicia has been the storage site for a) naval auxiliaries, and b) merchant ships acquired by MARAD or the MSC. Mothballed warships are kept at Bremerton, WA and at Philadelphia.

    Ships stored at Suisun have in fact from time to time been reactivated; in large numbers during the Korean War, as well as some during Vietnam and in the 1980s.

  290. Darlene Hunziker said on 

    I absolutly love all of these pictures because as a child I always wondered what all those ships looked like on the inside. I remember when the moved the Huges Mining vessel out there and I asked my dad if he thought there was anything left on there. He assured me there wasn’t but if he were still with us he would be surprised to see what was left behind. I always think it’s very interesting that when anything is left in an abandoned state it looks as if the people got up from there day totally intending to come back but for some reason just didn’t. I work at an old Psychiatric Facility that has been turned into a residential schooling facility and the old abandoned buildings are so interesting to go through for the very same reason. I am so glad you took the chance to get the photos!

  291. Nate G said on 

    Beautiful pictures of these old ships But aren’t you guys taking a risk by posting them on the internet?If the wrong people see these and know you were trespassing on these ships you could get into some serious trouble no?

  292. soulyogurt said on 

    Guys, I have been looking at those ship for years, wanting to do what you have done. Thanks for doing it, and thanks for sharing the experience with the rest of us!

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  294. Jerry said on 

    Great pics! I am a Merchant Mariner as well as a Navy Vet. I know of hundreds of sailors who would not only pay to tour these ships, but also buy the art work, furniture, and parts left aboard. Let’s get MARAD to ebay some of this stuff and recover a little cash!

  295. harry said on 

    IS IT YOU ?

    • JCC said on 

      Hopefully it will be the guys who took these great pictures and took the time to leave us with a small and beautiful piece of the end of a good history.

      Come to think of it, it’s me, too, for having the chance to stumble over this site and remember.

      Thanks guys, for taking the time to do this.

  296. Karla Lodge said on 

    My dad was on the USS Kenneth M Willett, said it was mothballed. Any idea if it is still in existence?

  297. bill said on 

    just wondering how long it takes them to strip the ships and recycle them any clue. i wish that thay would use them for something other than scrap metal. like maybe make them floating holtels for homeless folks or even turn them into something useable

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  300. Bill said on 

    Just finished looking at some of your work. You guys have a talent with a camera that can only be described as awesome. I admire the guts it took to get on those ships and get the pictures you did. Thanks for sharing. Keep up the great work.

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  302. SVV said on 

    Awesome. I’ve had plans to do this for years but never enough cohorts or the, frankly, balls and time to pull it off. I’m glad to see you used long exposures because that’s a favorite method of mine for capturing images. Really, REALLY great stuff fellas.

  303. MMR Reservist said on 

    I had the opportunity to visit the mothball fleet in Suisun Bay a few years ago while I was on my two week annual training for the Navy’s MMR program. You guys took some fantastic shots but they still don’t do it justice after you’ve seen it in person. That’s not meant as a slight to you guys, but walking around those old merchant and navy ships is an incredible experience that’s hard to properly convey.

    I also really enjoyed your story about getting aboard the ships. I’m not surprised that you didn’t have a difficult time approaching and getting aboard. The security personnel at the docks seemed like your run of the mill rent-a-cop.

    One of the coolest things I remember seeing was the split water tubes from a boiler on an MSC ship that exploded. That would’ve made for a fantastic shot. Did you guys see that one?

  304. Sergio Chau said on 

    Thank you guys for taking the risk and bringing back some great shots of these forgotten warriors. I served aboard The USS Germantown, USS Fort Fisher, USS Tarawa, USS Okinawa, and traveled with the USS Durhan, USS Debuque and Clevland. I was a deployed Marine at the time, serving on various ships platoons and service crews. It was a great experiance and the ships played center stage to many fond memories. It is sad to see them end up this way but at least someone cared enough to get some final shots of them. Thanks again for your efforts.

  305. Leah said on 

    Besides a quirky, if irrelevant association with Wes Andersen’s the “Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou”, I saw this quote immediately after seeing this work for the first time:

    “We who with songs beguile your pilgrimage / And swear that Beauty lives though lilies die / We poets of the proud old lineage / Who sing to find your hearts, we know not why / What shall we tell you? Tales, marvellous tales / Of ships and stars . . .” James Elroy Flecker

    A small, strange fortune beyond that, a week, if not days later, I came upon an official map of Suisun Bay published by the U.S. Coast Commerce & Geodetic Survey with a date stamp from April 1960…you can have it for a song (as listed on my website). I hope you don’t mind that I referenced and quoted this story alongside it. Yours is an amazing account and important to record, thanks for continuing to be so thoroughly intrepid.

  306. Caitlin said on 

    well, i guess now’s the make-or-break of it all. i found your photos splashed all over the yahoo homepage about 30 minutes ago. while i enjoy the subject(s) of your photography, as well as the imagery constructed, i have to say. what everyone has taken either as a “political rant” or a statement of fact is in fact both. less rant and more opinion, but no need to nitpick. the fact presented was worded very… provocatively, as the comments have reflected. i read it, as someone with healthy disdain for politicians as my own overhead policy, as a presentation of fact, but in my mind i was thinking that it reads as a dig. just fyi.

    the lack of effort to obtain any kind of clearance to visit the ships is pretty stupid, let’s be frank. i’d understand if you broke in to the shipyard after being denied access. but your blanket assumption that you wouldn’t have your artistic freedom or that it would take too long to go through the bureaucracy blah blah blah is just an excuse. had any of you been hurt from tripping on something protruding from the floor… i would have laughed. glad you didn’t get hurt, but if you had you would have deserved it.

    last, this is scott’s website and if he wants to make political statements of any kind, he damn well can! if you don’t like it, keep in mind that he pays for this domain, his name’s on it, and he does have certain protected rights, though it seems like his little clique will abuse those rights in the name of… something.

    so thanks, i enjoyed browsing and will probably visit some of the places her in CO. but you’re kind of scum and should not be able to profit from trespassing on private property. glad (and quite a bit more sad) your moral center lets you think it’s ok.

  307. Mark Mathews said on 

    Interesting photos onboard the USS Iowa, my 3rd Navy ship when I did my 21 year navy career. However, to get them, you TRESPASSED. You DISOBEYED a standing law. You all should be held accountable for having done so. Yes, the tide DID shift when the empty suited POSER, Barrak Hussein Obama took orifice in 2008, and God help us (and all our country once stood for) through November 2012, when Tea Party folks like myself will send he and his wife their pink slips. I can only imagine you all already vote democrat, and flaunt the laws you dont like.

  308. Nick said on 

    How were some rooms in such great shape? or were they restored.. :\

    • Amber Lee said on 

      I doubt they were restored. Imagine if you locked your doors and your windows in your house and left it for 30 years. Providing your house was structurally sound (ie: no leaky roof or chance of rodent infestation) chances are you’d come back to find it just the way it was. Same goes for the ships :) The ones with damage, I assume windows had been left open on at some stage or there had been an excessive amount of corrosion in their walls/ceilings.

  309. Brian Wool said on 

    No matter what the politics of why the ships are still sitting there after so many years, as a Navy veteran I believe there’s nothing more romantic than stepping inside a vessel that only ghosts now reside in . My first encounter with the Sea Shadow in the early 90′s was while I was walking on the Golden Gate Bridge and watching this odd vessel head out to sea. Of course like an old friend, it kept showing up every time my first duty station (a Knox Class frigate) departed or entered San Diego Bay. All the Knox frigates were retired by 1992 and in 1998 a couple of us were tasked to go to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and get some extra “captains’ chairs” to ship back to be placed on some Navy LCU’s…we got those chairs from an old Knox frigate and it was eerie to be on a ship that I was duly familiar with and there not to be any more physical beings than the two of us and the guy with the key onboard. I could vision the spaces we “toured” through with people on them just as I had one known.

    I presently volunteer for the USS Ranger Foundation which is a private group that is raising funds to get the ex-USS Ranger (CV-61) to a new homeport just east of Portland, Oregon to be used as a historical and heritage center. And although we are still a couple of years from getting the Navy to sign the papers over to us…I am looking forward to hearing the noises and the voices that only sailors understand from a ghost ship.

  310. Dwayne said on 

    I think you guys are great for doing this. It’s unfortunate so many of these comments have degraded into some political rants and ‘shame-on-you’ blah blah blahs. Kudos. I would have gone with you in a new york minute had I been offered the chance. These photos are great and you’re preserving a nugget of our history. Good job. Keep it up.

  311. Bob said on 

    You’re an idiot. The Bush Administration did nothing eh? They are the administration that followed through on the order from Congress to fix the problem that Clinton left them. They have steadily reduced the useless ships, remediated them properly, and have created a lot of jobs in the US ship scrapping industry. I believe, yes in fact I’m sure, it was Mr. Clinton, your liberal buddy, who tried to sell these ships to India. But lets not let facts get in the way of our “little expedition”. Idiot!

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  313. Mark said on 

    God I love it. I have wanted to go exploring on those ships for years. I fish on my boat out there all the time. If you ever want to go back out I would be willing to take you out there on my boat and drop you off then pick you back up later. Easily done with a fast boat. Thanks again for sharing. When you put this site up were you ever contacted by the government for doing this?

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  315. GRCicotte said on 

    Just happened across your photo / essay. A very interesting effort. Without detracting from the historical and artistic value, however, I would burst your bubble on two points:
    1. The President’s concerns regarding the environment, and your perception that the previous President “didn’t do anything,” have nothing to do with the reserve fleet finally being removed. It takes several years, and it’s CONGRESS that has to approve such funding. I really dislike giving credit where it’s due in this case, but it probably was former Speaker Pelosi who got the ball rolling, and it had nothing to do with the President.
    2. On your final trip, you seemed perplexed about being “accosted,” and then about being spotlighted but not stopped. I would suggest that since the security people have very high resolution imaging equipment behind the spotlights, which were used mostly to blind you, and since you probably looked like three photographers/thrillseekers, they almost certainly concluded you likely were neither stealing valuable equipment nor heading toward the ships to blow them up, and thus not worth their time. I would be very surprised if they weren’t laughing themselves silly over your stricken faces, but if it was me, I wouldn’t have given myself the heartburn of the paperwork, and wouldn’t have wanted to burden the government with the cost of arresting you just to see you rightfully laugh it off when you had to be let go because all you did was trespass. What’s the fine for that, $100? The cost of arresting you would have been well over $1000, and no one would have gotten excited enough to try to hit you with the maximum penalty, which could run to $50,000 and two years in jail (they were warships, even if they were inactive).

    Still, very interesting.

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  317. Mark Mellis said on 

    The Sperry was my first ship and is the only ship I served on that is still afloat – all the others have been scrapped. I would love to see more photos of her.

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  319. Christopher H said on 

    Excellent adventure, and good work. I pass the mothball fleet often when I head down 680 and have wondered at the state of preservation. Wretched, by the looks of it. The structural steel seems to be in good shape but these are supposed to be ready for refit, not ready for a complete overhaul.

    On a sidenote: I toured the USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor in 2005, a close friend was stationed with the Coast Guard in Oahu a number of years later. They’d actually removed a lot of access to the ship and many of the more invasive tourist displays because Congress got uppity about the Naval Gunfire Support bill again with the cutting of the DDG1000 budget so that only three will be put down, it appears that Iowa and Missouri are to be kept in a state that they would be ready for refit and put into service should the need arise. I’m not convinced of the merits of such a program but I suppose we don’t fund a massive gator fleet for nothing.


  320. grande said on 

    The USS North Carolina museum hasn’t put on the laser light show in years. She is in great condition. Over the last few years the ship has been repainted to her Measure 32 camo pattern from late WWII, had all of teak decking replaced, and improvements to the interior. She is now slated to have cofferdams placed around the hull and get some desperately needed hullwork completed.

  321. david winter said on 

    I hope the US Attorney fries your ass and puts y’all in a cell w/Bubba. You shut down legitimate use of the Reserve Fleet for months. This is a program that actually saves tax payer money, not that you clowns pay any taxes. Meanwhile, get a good attorney. Whatever you make from the sale of the pix can pay him.

    You guys deserve to be spanked. Teen age mutant dweebies. Sheesh.

  322. Amber Lee said on 

    I would seriously purchase some of that gorgeous mid century modern furniture if the Govt put it up for sale.

    What an absolutely incredible series of expeditions you took! Major, major kudos goes out to you and your friends for your outstanding effort and achievement! Keep up the amazing work!

  323. Deback said on 

    Great shots and awsome story! It had to be pretty spooky to sleep on those bad boys the first time. Very jealous of the experience you got to have doing this. It’s also great to see all the Navy Vets on here asking and talking about their experiences. I think you did a great thing. These ships are apart of our National history and the history of countless individuals who served on them.
    Well worth the risk for a little personal adventure and to show these images to people who would otherwise never get to see them.

    And to those who wanted to know if you asked for permission first, that would have tipped your hand. Plus, it’s easier to ask for forgiveness, then it is for permission.

  324. Patrick said on 

    I think your justification for what you did falls apart because you didn’t make the attempt to gain legal access first. If your intent was to preserve the memory of these ships in photographs then it would have been served just as well by gaining legal access. If you feared censorship you could have mounted a covert operation after the fact. Essentially you made the assumption that you would be denied or delayed access based on previous dealings with the government. Unfortunately just because you’ve been stonewalled before doesn’t make it certain you would have been stonewalled again. Making the attempt at legal access would have at best allowed you to take the photos you wanted without breaking the law, and at worst given you a better justification for returning covertly at a later date. I don’t think security would have been much tighter had you gone this route, unless you were careless enough to tip your hand to your hosts.

    Regarding the safety issues: hazardous activity is not in itself illegal. If it were there would be laws against motorcycles and cigarettes. You accepted the potential risks and took what precautions you thought prudent. Whether it was right, or even smart may be open to debate but ultimately you will live (or die) with the consequences. Yes, people do questionable and dangerous things and sometimes die because of it. Christopher McCandless walked into the Alaskan wilderness with no map and no compass and died within walking distance of an escape route that could have saved his life. Aron Ralston goes hiking without leaving a note and has to saw his own arm off. No matter how you choose to paint it, people do dangerous things for different reasons and no amount of finger-wagging is going to stop them.

    With regard to all the political bashing that has been rampant through this discussion, all I can say is this: the most popular form of bigotry in this country is political bigotry. We now judge people by their politics, which in my mind is just as bad as condemning them for their religion or their ethnic background. And you know what? Both sides are guilty of it.

    • Patrick said on 

      Follow up: This is a partial list of preserved warships in the United States:

      Aircraft Carriers: Hornet, Lexington, Intrepid, Yorktown (all Essex class carriers), Midway (Midway Class)

      Battleships: New Jersey, Missouri, Wisconsin (all sisters of Iowa), North Carolina, Alabama, Massachusetts, USS Texas (only WWI-era battleship preserved).

      Cruisers: USS Little Rock, USS Olympia, USS Salem

      Other: USS Constitution (sailing ship) USS Nautilus (First nuclear-powered submarine), U-505 (captured German U-boat), several WWII era subs, and a few destroyers and other vessels.

  325. Abigail said on 

    Wow. You guys are my freakin’ heroes. That story was well-written by the way… very gripping :)
    Was that just a one time thing or do you guys do other bad ass projects?

  326. Charles said on 

    Great job here guys. Being adventurous and taking risks has great rewards. Your photos are incredible. I live in Florida and wish I was closer to places of incredible history and significance like this. I photographed and shot video of two abandoned bridges in 2011 in north Florida built during the Great Depression, and it was truly an incredible rush. All the best.

  327. reuben maness said on 

    hey Scott, really cool website. I am a producer for the TV show “Eye on the Bay.” we are shooting an episode about the Bay itself and would love to include a piece about you and your mothball fleet adventures. You could tell your story and show off some photos on camera. Let me know if you’re interested! thanks.

  328. Now which barge had the Sea Shadow inside of it, I’m going out there?

  329. Nicotti said on 

    Awesome Urbex! Makes me wish I lived on the coast. The closest we have here is a partially sunken WW2 minesweeper.

    Interesting posts in the comments section too.

  330. Alex said on 

    I was sent here from . They referenced your guys’ story. Everything sounds amazing! Almost like it is out of Italian Job or James Bond. I don’t know if you guys still read these comments, but anyhow I am sure you have heard that the USS Iowa is being moved to Los Angeles. Also, I would love to see the Sea Shadow in person – but there are plans to dismantle. Did you ever figure out what the possible consequences would include if you were caught? I am 20 years old, I have a few buddies that would love this sort of thing, we live 30 minutes away… I think it would be so fun! You all have a life-long memory. Way to go guys!

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  332. anonymous said on 

    Your pics are nice but you have no idea how your actions affected others. As part of a non profit, that has legally boarded these ships on three different occasions, your actions led to the subsequent closing of the fleet to nonprofits. We lost opportunities to obtain items to enrich our ships history. Please consider others than yourself next time.

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  334. John C. Noernberg Sr. said on 

    Hi, I was stationed on the USS Jason AR-8 in 1973 and was wondering if you saw it in the bay or if you might know how I can find where it is now. I know it was drydocked and refurbished some time in 1980′s and then went to the persian gulf for desert storm. It was then decommissioned some time in 90′s which made no sense if it was refurbished but then that is our wastefull federal gov for you. If you can assist me in finding my ship I would love to here from you via-email. If I could have done what you guys did, I would have done so and not been so worried as you were. They are taxpayers ships. You should have taken a Vet like me with youi—I would of told them to back up and show me there DD215′s and if not—then they had nothing to say about a ex-Navy being onboard. Thanks and hope to hear from you soon. Also–do you guys know if the mothball fleet in Philadelphia, PA is still a reserve fleet and is it still on the base.. I was stationed there for military schooling in 1975 and the ships were covered with grey tarps and ready to be activated with-in 48 hours if needed at that time. Thanks again.

  335. Brian Mohs said on 

    Great job! Been passing the ships for years and then my seven year old son Michael started to ask questions about the ships. Your story and pictures were a great way to educate him without going through what you did. It’s not right to break the law, but in this since using it for education was the right thing to do. Thanks for doing what the governments will not….sharing all the information.

  336. Dally said on 

    Forget all the negative comments. All of your efforts and episodes should be made into a Discovery Channel show. A very good use of the world wide web and a very good read. Thanks for the information here.

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  340. Daniel Coffeen said on 

    I have lived in Benicia, CA all of my life, if you don’t know Benica i’m not surprised. The Moth Ball Fleet is actually in the city limits of Benicia directly off on the Suisun Bay. All of my life i have wanted to see the insides of these ships, they have always been that kind of mystery off the town I grew up in. So I am mainly writing this to say thanks for the opportunity to see the inside of these ships.

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  343. Erol Orhun said on 

    Very interesting and beautiful photos

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  345. Scott said on 

    Let me just sum this up for all the whining comments I’ve seen. Why don’t you worry less about other peoples lives and your own. If you’re that whiney and get your panties in a bunch over one comment over Obama fast tracking the clean up you should really take a step back and look at your own life.

    All most of you have done is proven your ignorance over and over again which is the main problem in the US is the ignorance of people. Spend a little more time worrying less about what someone else does with their life and focus on yours because if you get that up roared over one Obama comment you should seek help.

    On a side note great photos guys the night shots were nice with the moon lighting them up.

  346. Louise Eddy said on 

    My Navy husband and I lived in Vallejo in 1957-1958 and I became aware of the Mothball Fleet driving near Benicia as you could see all the ships from the highway and it was a truly awesome sight to see row after row after row of abandoned ships. Most people were unaware that sometimes low-grade Navy personnel made a raid on a ship in the dark and brought back blankets, silverware, and other items that were just left on the ships, just laying there unused when low-ranking Navy folks could sure use that stuff. Yup, it was stealing but it sure served a better purpose than just rotting away.

    Guys, I loved your article and all the pictures and I thnk you for them!!

  347. Carlos said on 

    San Pedro won. I just toured the USS Iowa. It will be honored by many.

  348. Walter said on 

    What a fantastic story, enjoyed it even more then the photographs.
    Also enjoyed immensely the discussion afterwards.
    I am jealous of your mothballfleeth, would loved to have joined the party on board.

  349. Ashleyanne said on 

    I am whole-heartedly in love with this entire endeavor. Congratulations, you badasses!

  350. Joel said on 

    Great shots! Some really cool information here, which I (and mostly everyone else) appreciates. I had always heard of the mothball fleet, but didn’t realize what it encompassed until working on an oil tanker loading across the bay. And now it seems like I can not get away from them (a former Cimarron-class fleet oiler is at a shipyard in San Francisco prepping for break up). I think what floored me the most was the quality that these ships were built with, especially compared to a modern vessel. Also, to hopefully shed some light on the fate of these ships; none of them are REALLY required to be kept in mothball. The US Navy maintains fleets of active merchant vessels around the world loaded with cargo in preparation for a global incident. These are in addition to the fleet to Ready Reserve vessels in various ports you might see (typically denoted by red, white, and blue bands around the stack). With regards to the government handling of these vessels, I think it’s best to chalk it up to their typical inefficiency. Bear in mind that they ordered and built TWO Kaiser-class oilers in the early 1990′s (Isherwood and Eckford) which were never completed and never used! On top of that, the lead vessels in the newest class of ammunition ship that is built is already being brought out of service and transferred to a reserve status after only a 10 year service run. I’m fairly certain we can reduce some of the national debt by holding the US Navy accountable for the money they spend.

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  356. Lyle said on 

    Great pictures. I was stationed aboard one of those ships in that mothballed fleet. It was the USS Wichita AOR1. She was a great ship and was more than just a piece of metal. She was a part of history. Google KAL007/USS Wichita AOR1 and you will see. I was onboard this ship in 1983 to search for KAL007 shot down by the Russians in the hight of the cold war. As someone already comment on these ships hold great memories for us that served on them but if they are a hazzard to our environment then they need to be dealt with. Thanks again for the pictures.

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  358. Mark said on 

    From 1989-1991 I served as and Instructor in Vallejo Ca on Mare Island Shipyard. I taught Marines going out to guard special weapons on ground and ship. We would take the class out to the mothball fleet in the bay to train. We had full access to any ship we wanted as long as it was not one that was close to readiness standards. You would not believe the things we saw. We would be out there for 3 days and nights and most of of the time half the instructors would train the Marines and the other half would just explore from ship to ship. It was great. If you want to talk about it hit me up. Thank you.

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  360. Ray DuBoise said on 

    After spending 2 1/2 years in China with the 14th Air Force, I boarded the USAT Billy Mitchell in the fall of 1944 and headed home. We stopped in Australia for supplies and picked up a load of Marines in the Peleliu Islands, then headed for Los Angeles. It was a three month trip. It is my understanding the Billy Mitchell is parked there in the Mothball Fleet.

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  363. Singe said on 

    Jesus there’s a lot of angry butthurt commenters here cause cause Bush’s name was invoked a single time. Look at the pretty pictures and stop foaming at the mouth. It’ll do good for the blood pressure.

    To the photographers, nice work guys.

  364. greg said on 

    Was on the Iowa Saturday, probably only 15% restored, tour only lasted 2 hours. She needs a lot of help, wish they would have left the teak decks on her instead of putting on Douglas fir.

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  368. Kevin hutchison said on 

    My dad was a medic on the Taluga (which I believe has already been towed away) in the 60′s and I can only assume that the room with the hanging blue light could be where he worked. He passed earlier this year. I wish I had stumbled upon your blog before that. I’m sure he would have had some stories to go along with some of your photos.

  369. TRUTHABOUTTHECIA said on 

    Nice work and good to see someone covering the history of the Ghost Ships

    Keith Grant

    CC: Ms. Lili Stiff & Kelsi Hottie

  370. Nick said on 

    I served on USS Nereus AS-17 in 1966-67. I joined her in the yard at Mare Island and left her in San Diego after a “shakedown” cruise to Acapulco. What a great ship! Great chow, great crew. Sub tenders have so much interesting stuff going on. We could make ANYTHING. I still have my bronze ashtray, “USS NERUES WARD ROOM” cast into the rim. If I’d been with you in Suisun Bay, that little boat would probably have foundered with all the plunder I would have taken. I never thought she would last this long. She made her last voyage to the breakers this summer. Faciendum Faciemus!

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  372. Alex said on 

    Current status of the ships as of November 11th 2013. My aerial shots of the entire remaining 20 vessels:

  373. Tom Collins said on 

    Any advice for me. I’m about to try the mothball fleet at James River, VA.

  374. Jeff said on 

    I absolutely loved your documentary. As a former photography student, I appreciated the story that is so easily depicted in your images. I stumbled across the site by accident and was facinated as my grandfather worked in th Engineering Dept. of the USN. He inspected ships for delivery to the Navy during WWII. He inspected ships at Savanna, Newport News and Norfolk. It makes me wonder if any of the ghost ships were part of his initial inspection. Sadly, he has passed on and it will forever remain a mystery to me. I am so very greatful for the look into the past you have provided. I wish you only the very best in the future and look forward to your next adventure.