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Steer clear

Prohibited areas within the mid-Bay area

These are the prohibited areas within the mid-Bay area, starting at the mouth of the Patuxent River to the north and going south:

Hooper Island target cluster, about 6.5 miles south-southeast of Cedar Point and due west of Hooper Straight, about three miles off the western shore.

Read the other story in this package:
Strafing Chesapeake Bay’s ‘target ship’

This includes various pilings used by electronic targeting systems as well as a “sacrificial” bombing platform built on pilings, about 15 feet high, used as a target for dummy bombs. The platform is rebuilt as needed.

Bloodsworth Island, about 17 miles southeast of Cedar Point. This range once was used by Navy surface ships (such as destroyers) for testing their deck guns by shelling the island’s western beach. Although live-fire exercises are no longer conducted there, the area contains unexploded shells and the entire island is off-limits.

American Mariner (a.k.a. Hannibal), seven miles northwest of the western channel to Smith Island.

Tangier Island target, about four miles southwest of the western channel to Tangier Island, used for video and electronic calibration of onboard weapons systems in the Navy aircraft. Since these pilings are barely above water, and two other submerged wrecks are just two miles off the western channel, boaters should pay close attention to their charts in this area.

Wreck of the San Marcos, about nine miles west-southwest of Tangier Island. Originally built in 1895 as the battleship USS Texas, the ship was renamed the San Marcos in 1911, converted to a target ship, and sunk later that year off Tangier Island by shelling from other Navy warships. Over the years, the submerged wreckage of the San Carlos snagged and sank several private boats, so the Navy set off underwater demolition charges to lower the rubble (providing at least 20 feet of clearance at low tide) and lessen the risk of collisions. It remains a popular fishing area, although local watermen have occasionally hauled up unexploded bombs in the area.