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The Patuxent Ghost Fleet

'Ghost fleet' chronicled

Cruisers familiar with Chesapeake Bay know of the fleet well - the deteriorating "ghost fleet" of mothballed German steamships in the backwaters of Maryland's Patuxent River.

Long out of print, "The Patuxent 'Ghost Fleet' 1927-1941" by Merle T. Cole was originally published in 1986. Now it's been revived and reissued by the Calvert Marine Museum because, as museum director C. Douglass Alves Jr. writes in the preface, "the original has stood the test of time."

The four vessels, "prizes" from the Allied victory in World War I, were moored on the Calvert County side of the river where the Thomas Johnson Bridge now stretches. The ships averaged 700 feet in length and created an impressive waterfront skyline of smokestacks for years until they were eventually sold for scrap.

Cole's nonfiction work details the history of these vessels and how they came to be waterfront icons.

The 70-page study has been completely updated and is available for $19.95 from the museum store. To purchase a copy, call the store at (410) 326-2750 or e-mail www.calvert

This article originally appeared in the Home Waters Section of the April 2011 issue.