Suisun Bay Ghost Fleet – Benicia, California - Atlas Obscura

Suisun Bay Ghost Fleet

The rusting remains of the largest assembled WWII fleet on the West Coast. 


Standing at the ready since the end of WWII, this eerie ghost fleet once numbered as many as 350 ships.

Technically known as the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet (SBRF), the boats are theoretically part of an active reserve fleet, ready to head out in as few as 20 days in times of national emergency. The reality is a slowly decaying fleet, creaking and rusting as they await the scrapyard. Now greatly reduced in number, soon there will be fewer still.

Unfortunately, the long years of neglect and indecision turned these once proud fighters into near wrecks, with flaking paint polluting the waters, and locals complaining about them overstaying their welcome.

The most famous resident was the USS Iowa, a WWII battleship that once served as the transport vessel for President Roosevelt, and fought in the Pacific during both WWII and the Korean War. It was decommissioned in 1990, and there are hopes to turn it into a museum ship. She was recently removed to southern California to begin a new life as a museum ship.

Unfortunately, by January 2014, most of the remaining fleet ships had been salvaged and either sold for scrap metal or recycled. As of August 2017 only ten ships remain as part of the Suisun Reserve Fleet.

Know Before You Go

A good view of the fleet is at the vista point off Hwy 680, between Benicia and Fairfield. Take the Lake Herman Road Exit.

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