USS Mount Hood AE-29 Hull Cleaning

On Wednesday, August 21, the USS Mount Hood was removed from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet and transported to Mare Island to receive a hull cleaning before making the long trek through the Panama Canal to be recycled in Texas. 

The USS Mount Hood, a Kilauea-class ammunition ship, was the second ship to be named after the Oregon volcano. Her hull was laid down in May 1967 by the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Sparrows Point, Maryland and commissioned in 1971. Her homeport was Concord, California, a short distance from where her hull is being cleaned. 

She was decommissioned in Bremerton, Washington in 1999, and transferred to MARAD and placed in Suisun Bay shortly thereafter.  

USS Holland AS-32 Being Recycled

The USS Holland, the second Hunley class submarine tender, was removed from the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet on Thursday, July 10, 2013. She was transported to Mare Island where her hull will be cleaned, by Mare Island Ship Yard, prior to her final journey to Brownsville, Texas to be recycled.  

For me this is a big moment, as USS Holland was the first ship I ever visited in Suisun Bay back in 2010. I was fortunate to have an opportunity to wander her corridors a few more time over the years, exploring the memories and artifacts left behind by the men and women who served aboard her. 

Docked at Mare Island Ship Yard, taken during twilight

Just before the workers arrived to begin work on the hull 

The bow of USS Holland in the Mare Island Ship Yard dry dock

USS Holland was built by the Ingalls Shipbuilding Company in Mississippi and commissioned in 1963. Her mission was to service submarines, replenish food supply, fuel and weapons. She carried a machine shop and was capable of repairing any portion of a submarine. 

Her first major mission began in 1964 across the Atlantic Ocean in Rota, Spain where she took over for U.S.S. Proteus, restocking missiles and supplies to the Polaris Submarines.

During her thirty three years in service, USS Holland was recognized ten times for battle efficiency. 

She was decommissioned in 1996, while in Guam, and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet shortly thereafter.  

Looking towards Mare Island, from Vallejo, at the dry dock 

The ship name has faded since being moored in the Fleet 

Read more about the USS Holland here.  

The End of the Sea Shadow Stealth Ship

The Sea Shadow is an experimental stealth ship built for the Navy in 1985 by the Lockheed Corporation for $50 million. She was built inside the Hughes Mining Barge which acted as a floating dry dock (and was eventually involved with Project Azorian, recovering a Soviet submarine from the ocean floor.)

Her purpose was to test naval vessel stealth technology to determine if radar-evading technology in aircraft was also possible in water. The experiment was a success, and used in secret for years until being exposed to the public until 1993, 
but the vessel was never reproduced. 

In 2006, the Sea Shadow and the Hughes Mining Barge were relocated to Suisun Bay and placed in the Mothball Fleet where they have been moored since. 

Yesterday, news broke that a Bay Area company purchased the Hughes Mining Barge at auction. They will preserve the barge and use it as a floating dry dock, however, the auction required the purchaser to destroy the Sea Shadow. 

USS Iowa Heads to Southern California

On Saturday, the USS Iowa (BB-61) will be towed from Richmond to her new home in Long Beach. She is the last Iowa Class battleship in existence to become a museum, which will thankfully preserve the ship that served in WWII, carried Roosevelt across the Atlantic in 1943 and suffered a turret exploring in 1989, killing 47 crew members. 

Much has changed since this image was taken of her in the Mothball Fleet in January 2010, but my feelings about her still remain the same. She is magnificent. 

The first time I set foot on her deck, I was immersed in the history, tragedy and beauty of this ship and though I am sad to see her leave the Bay Area, I am incredibly happy to see such a big part of our history preserved. 

U.S.S. Iowa BB-61: Benicia to Richmond


On Thursday October 27, 2011, USS Iowa was removed from the Suisun Bay Mothball Fleet and placed at the Port of Benicia, where she spent one night before beign transferred to Richmond. For the next three months, USS Iowa will undergo significant refurbishment before making the long journey to Berth 87 in Los Angeles where she will become an interactive museum.

The battle this ship has experienced since her decomissioning was politically based and spanned across the past ten years as she sat in Suisun Bay. There was always a push to turn the battleship into a museum in San Francisco, but the Board of Supervisors was against mooring a miliitary ship based on a "homophobic entity" within the confines of the city, which caused other organizations to raise money in the hopes to move the ship to another California dock. 

USS Iowa is the last of four remaining battleships of its kind and the last of the four to be turned into a museum. The 887 foot long USS Iowa, built in 1940, was the fastest ship in her class of battleship and the only ship of her class to have served in the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. Her main battery consisted of nine 16"/50 Caliber Mark 7 guns which could fire 2,700lb shells approximately 20 miles. 

In 1989, during a gunnery excersise, an explosion occurred in the center gun room destroying Turret #2 and killing 47 sailors. 

The ship was decomissioned in 1990 and placed in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet short thereafter.

Port of Benicia

Leaving the Port of Benicia

Approaching the Carquinez Bridge

USS Iowa after passing under the Richmond Bridge

Nearing Berth 3 in Richmond

Tugboat pushes USS Iowa towards the pier

Aft guns

Arriving at Berth 3 in Richmond

Flying the US Flag in Richmond

Forward 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 guns

Portside guns, 5"/38 caliber twin turrets

Securing the mooring lines



WWII Veteran Joe served aboard USS Iowa during her first deployment in 1942. 


Photo: "Sea Shadow"

For the second time in a month, an article regarding the scrapping of the Sea Shadow has surfaced. Might it be the last attempt to find a non-profit to take the ship?

The Sea Shadow (IX-529) was an experimental stealth ship built for the U.S. Navy in 1984 by Lockheed Corporation, an American aerospace manufacturer. She was constructed in Redwood City, California inside the Hughes Mining Barge to conceal the project. The ship was used in secret to determine the effectivemes of stealth technology on naval vessels. In 1993 the project was publicly exposed.

Photo: "Chained"

Commercial steamship, SS Mormaccove of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet. She served in the commercial trade industry for almost 20 years (1961-1980) before being acquired by the Navy and converted for Naval use. At that time her name was changed to USNS Northern Light. She was used by the Navy for 5 years, then placed in the Mothball Fleet in RRF-30 status, meaning she could be ready for deployment in 30 days. In 2000, she was removed from Ready Reserve staus, handed over to MARAD and is now slated for dismantling.

Photo: "Pipe Dreams"

These valves in "shaft alley" of USNS Northern Light, a commercial breakbulk steamship, controlled water flow into the propeller shaft to keep it cool.

"Breakbulk ships" were characterized by large open hatches and fitted with boom-and-winch gear or deck cranes and primarily used in ports. USNS Northern Light, originally known as SS Mormacbay, served in the commercial trade industry from 1961 until 1980, when she was acquired by the Navy and eventually moved to Suisun Bay.

Allied Defense Recycling Makes History at Mare Island

This morning at 1000 hours , Allied Defense Recycling, MARAD and the City of Vallejo held an Open House and Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for the new Allied Defense ship dismantling facility at Mare Island.

Mare Island, the first Shipyard to be built on the West Coast, has remained closed since 1995 as a direct result of the Base Realignment Closure Program. This event marked the official reopening of the 740 foot dry dock #2 after 16 years of dormancy. 

Since SS Solon Turman was towed into the dry dock 2 weeks ago, dozens of workers have lined up each morning hoping to get hired. Thus far, Allied Defense Recycling has hired a handful of workers and will continue to hire workers, up to 100 or maybe more, once major operations begin.

In 2010, Allied Defense Recycling received the MARAD contract to scrap two ships. S.S. Solon Turman is currently sitting in the dry dock. The next ship, S.S. President, is scheduled to arrive in March. Of the 20 ships scheduled to be removed from the Mothball Fleet by Sept 30, 2011, it hasn't been said how many will end up at Mare Island.

The presentation was held inside the former periscope maintenance building. Speakers included: Jay Anast (Director of Operations, ADR), Mayor Osby Davis and David Matsuda (Director, MARAD).

Photo: "Stand Down"

Battleship U.S.S. Iowa contains three 16"/50 caliber Mark 7 guns. The turrets were called "three-gun" (rather than "triple") because each gun could be angled and fired independently of the others. These guns were 66 feet long and fired projectiles weighing anywhere from 1,900 to 2,700lbs at a max speed of 2,690 feet per second for up to 24 miles.

This world class battleship currently sits in the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet awaiting her fate. Currently there is a batte between Long Beach and Mare Island as to where the ship will be docked and turned into a museum. The Navy seems to have chosen Mare Island as the ship's home, but San Pedro seems to have more funding and monetary support.

U.S.S. Wichita (AOR-1)

The hull of U.S.S. Wichita was laid down in Quincy, Massachusetts by General Dynamics Quincy Shipbuilding Division in 1966. She was the first of the Wichita Class Replenishment ships to see service. (She was later joined by USS Milwaukee, USS Kansas City, USS Savannah, USS Wasbah, USS Kalamazoo and USS Roanoke.)

She was comissioned in July 1969, after a final outfitting at the Boston Naval Shipyard.

U.S.S. Wichita was equiped with twin Phalanx Close-In Weapons Systems for anti-missile/anti-aircraft defence. Eventually, this was supplemented with single Sea Sparrow MK 29 missile launchers which protected against surface and air threats by utilizing the Rim-7 NATO SeaSparrow Missile. She also had the ability to support (2) CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters if necessary.

After a long trek through the Panama Canal she arrived on the West Coast in Long Beach, which became her temporary home port, where she remained for a few months before being deployed to support ships in the Vietnam War. During her time there, she earned four battle stars and an Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, which was for replenishing 23 ships within one day, and years later was also awarded a "Battle Efficiency Award" (Battle E). 

Her last West Pacific tour of duty was in 1989, but she had some short deployments to British Columbia, Oregon and Mexico. 

She provided over 30,000,000 gallons of oil and gasoline and 10,000 tons of ammunition to over 240 ships throughout her 24 years of service until she was decomissioned in 1993. 

In 1998 she was transfered to Suisun Bay and became a member of the Reserve Fleet where she has sat ever since.


Inside the 'Treatment Room' where two operating tables and a dentist chair were installed for patient care.

Dentist chair inside the 'Treatment Room' on the 01 Level.

Inside the 1st deck crew mess.

Crew bunks on the 1st deck.

Checker tables on the 1st deck. 


U.S.N.S. Edwin D. Patrick

I just discovered that the most recent ship towed out of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, U.S.N.S. Edwin D. Patrick, was one of the ships I had the priviledge to explore on a recent trip to the Fleet.

She was first of the 6 ships, towed out of the fleet, that I have had the chance to photograph, which is why I'm a bit sadenned by the news. While that might sound strange to many of you, it's something that happens to us explorers/photographers when we see a place we've visited often be demolished or renovated.

Throughout the last year, I've made a number of trips to the Fleet and each time, I discover something new, which leads to a stronger attachment to the ships. This ship in particular was interesting to me because she was a troop transport ship and contained many elements most military ships do not, such as a monetary exhange booth, theatre, church and rec room.

During my trip to the Fleet, I was told that U.S.N.S. Edwin D Patrick and her sister ship, U.S.N.S. General John Pope had been sold for scrap, but there was no indication of when this would occur. 

 U.S.N.S Edwin D Patrick was a troop transport ship commissioned in 1945. In 1950, the Navy reclaimed the ship and placed into Military Sea Transportation Service, where she served as a transport ship during the Korean War. She was decommissioned in 1967 and places in Suisun Bay shortly thereafter. In 2005, she was scheduled to be transported to Alang, India for scrapping, but concerns about the condition of her hull prevented this from occuring. In March 2010, U.S.N.S. Edwin D Patrick was sold to ESCO Marine in Brownsville, Texas.

She was towed out of the fleet on April 15, with no announcement in the media or on the Port of San Francisco roster. She now sits in the dry docks at BAE Systems in San Francisco awaiting her trip to Texas to be scrapped.

Photo by Dave R