“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Benicia in Solano County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)

Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet

The Fleet

Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Syd Whittle, August 25, 2008
1. Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet Marker
Inscription.  Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet is part of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF), owned and operated by U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration (MARAD). Established by the Merchant Ship Act of 1946, NDRF serves as a reserve which could be activated to meet shipping requirements during national emergencies. During World War II, over 3000 commercial type ships were built by the Maritime Commission to support the Allied war effort. After the war, those ships that could not be absorbed into commercial service were laid up in reserve, to be preserved and utilized in the future as needed.

At its peek, 2,277 ships were in reserve in the NDRF at eight sites nation-wide. In the 1950’s these sites were consolidated into three sites: James River, VA, Beaumont, TX, and here in Suisun Bay.

A Ready Reserve Fleet component was established in 1976 as a subset of the NDRF to provide rapid deployment of equipment and became known as Ready Reserve Force (RRF) in 1984.

In addition to World War II, NDRF vessels have supported emergency shipping requirement in seven wars and crises. Such as the Korean War, 540 vessels were
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broken out to support military forces. A world wide tonnage shortfall in 1951 – 1953 required over 600 ships to be reactivated to lift coal to Europe. From 1955 – 1964, another 600 ships were used to store grain for the Department of Agriculture. Another tonnage shortfall following the Suez Canal closing in 1956 saw 223 cargo ships and 29 tankers activated from the NDRF. In 1961 Berlin crisis 18 vessels were activated while 172 vessels were activated for Vietnam conflict.

The fleet is comprised of ex-commercial cargo ships, tankers and U.S. Navy inactive vessels. Over the years the Mothball Fleet, here in Suisun Bay, has included some famous and infamous sea craft such as Liberty Ship Jeremiah O’Brien. The GloMar Explorer, built for the CIA in 1974 by Howard Hughes, and Naval Cruisers.

Ships at Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet are held in varying states of preservation, with maintenance performed by civilian Reserve Fleet personnel, using effective and cost efficient methods.

• Dehumidification equipment is used to preserve the interior of the vessels. Cathodic protection preserves the underwater hulls.

• Regular painting of the ships exteriors above water line has been discontinued, as this is mostly cosmetic.

• One component of the NDRF, the Ready Reserve Force (RRF) ships, undergoes more intensive maintenance of the ships
The Fleet image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Syd Whittle, August 11, 2008
2. The Fleet
internal systems and cargo handling equipment. With this maintenance and special lay up techniques, RRF vessels can be reactivated in as little as five days.

• Ships are scrapped when deemed no longer useful, with the scrap sale proceed used for the upkeep of the NDRF.

The Coast Guard uses these vessels to train firefighting crews and oil spill response teams. Marines from all over the country practice storming Mothball ships with small crafts and helicopters.

In addition to these benefits, these ships provide ideal protective cover for the Bay’s sturgeon, steel-heads and Chinook salmon.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & CommerceWar, KoreanWar, VietnamWar, World IIWaterways & Vessels. A significant historical year for this entry is 1946.
Location. 38° 5.227′ N, 122° 6.782′ W. Marker is in Benicia, California, in Solano County. Marker can be reached from Lopes Road just east of Lake Herman Road. Marker is located at the Vista Point on south side of Lopes Road. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Benicia CA 94510, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Commandant's Home (approx. 3 miles away); Gen. Quandt Lane (approx. 3 miles away); Clock Tower (approx. 3 miles away); 1849 - Benicia Arsenal – 1964
Another Section of Fleet image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Syd Whittle, August 25, 2008
3. Another Section of Fleet
(approx. 3.1 miles away); Site of Benicia Seminary (approx. 3.3 miles away); World War I Memorial (approx. 3.3 miles away); Site of the First Protestant Church in California (approx. 3.3 miles away); 1854 – Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church – 1954 (approx. 3.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Benicia.
Also see . . .
1. National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF). (Submitted on August 29, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
2. Ready Reserve Force (RRF). (Submitted on August 29, 2008, by Kevin W. of Stafford, Virginia.)
Additional keywords. shipping
Credits. This page was last revised on January 3, 2020. It was originally submitted on August 27, 2008, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona. This page has been viewed 5,729 times since then and 58 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 27, 2008, by Syd Whittle of Mesa, Arizona. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 14, 2024