Friday, July 17, 2015
Ghost Fleet Is Shrinking But Not Going Away
The national reserve fleet was formally established in 1946 by the U.S. Maritime Administration, or MARAD, to keep and maintain surplus ships for national defense and emergency response. MARAD is an arm of the U.S. Department of Transportation. But the James River fleet actually predates the formal NDRF by three decades. In 1916, the country began using the James to store ships being mass-produced in preparation for entry into the Great War then raging in Europe. It was around that time the term "Ghost Fleet" was first used, said Jeffrey J. McMahon, Norfolk-based operations officer for MARAD's entire Atlantic division. Not because the ships were essentially dead in the water, he said, but for the eerie look of them when caught in a low-hanging fog bank.