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History of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF)

History of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF)

Section 11 of the Merchant Ship Sales Act of 1946, established the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) to serve as a reserve of ships for national defense and emergencies. At its height in 1950, the NDRF consisted of 2,277 ships kept at eight anchorages: Stony Point, New York; Fort Eustis, Virginia; Wilmington, North Carolina; Mobile, Alabama; Beaumont, Texas; Benicia, California; Astoria, Oregon; and Olympia, Washington.

Today, the NDRF consists of three of its eight original anchorages located at Fort Eustis on the James River in Virginia; Beaumont, Texas; and Suisun Bay in Benicia, California. In addition to maintaining a fleet of active and inactive ships, the Maritime Administration is the Federal governments disposal agent for Federally-owned obsolete, merchant-type vessels and naval auxiliaries that are equal to or greater than 1,500 gross tons. Today's NDRF includes both retention and non-retention vessels, and primarily consists of dry cargo ships with some tankers and military auxiliaries.

You can learn more about the three active fleet anchorages below:

For photographs of all eight original NDRF anchorages, see: Historical Photographs

Last updated: Wednesday, September 16, 2020