The Mothball Ghost Fleet
by Owen James Burke
The U.S. Navy reserve fleet, ghost or mothball fleet in Suisun Bay is to be revealed to the public through a photography exhibition on Saturday May 7, 2011, 7:00-9:00 pm at Workspace Limited, 2150 Folsom Street in San Francisco.
For 18 months, Four photographers (Stephen Freskos, John Haeber, Scott Haefner and Amy Heiden) were granted exclusive permission to board the once classified vessels, shooting everything from the captain’s quarters to the radio rooms.
The most luxurious, non-industrial space on any Navy ship is almost always here–the captain’s quarters. You won’t find curtains or nightstand lamps anywhere else aboard, and if you do, it certainly won’t be Navy-issued. Still, it’s no Carnival Cruise, and accommodations and accessories have and probably always will be kept to a limit; for clearly, no sailor could afford to trip over an antique mahogany armchair upon springing out of bed in response to an attack.
The Radio Control Room–It’s hard to say which era the equipment in this room might be from, but it’s probably a collective of instruments ranging anywhere from World War II on to the Cold War. Nevertheless, radio technologies have varied very little in their recent developments.
The Flybridge–The post at which nightwatchmen would spend hours of boredom and moments of terror, witnessing nearby ships explode all-too-suddenly like frothing volcanoes, praying that theirs would avoid being next.
Many of these ships have stood still for over 40 years, and most of them are being towed out or scrapped due to the environmental threats they pose as they continue to decay. There’s no telling how long these relics will last, and as time goes on, fewer and fewer are left remaining.
So, if you happen to be in San Francisco during the event, be sure to drop by, and sign up here to reserve a space.