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After the second World War, the United States established the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) – a fleet of vessels that serve as a reserve of ships for national defense and national emergency purposes. The fleet consist of mostly merchant vessels, that can be activated within 20 to 120 days to provide shipping during national emergencies, either military or non-military, such as commercial shipping crises. At its height in 1950, the NDRF consisted of 2,277 ships at eight anchorage sites: James River, Virginia; Beaumont, Texas; Suisun Bay, California; Stony Point, New York; Wilmington, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; Astoria, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington.

Only the first three, out of the original eight, exist today. Long years of neglect and disuse have turned these ships into near wrecks, with flaking paint polluting the waters with heavy metals and hazardous chemicals. As of April 30, 2014, only 122 vessels are left in the NDRF, and their numbers are reducing still.

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Inactive U.S. Navy auxiliary ships of the James River Reserve Fleet Photo credit

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© Amusing Planet, 2014.


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