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James River Reserve Fleet

The James River Reserve Fleet (JRRF) is an anchorage of the National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) located on the James River at Fort Eustis, Virginia. It is the oldest of the original eight NDRF fleet sites and is currently one of three that is still in operation.

A reserve fleet of wood- and steel-hulled ships was established at Fort Eustis, then Camp Eustis, as far back as World War I; the fleet was also used for inactive vessel lay-up following the war. Many of the wood-hulled ships were later removed to Mallows Bay, Maryland. At the start of World War II, there were nearly 300 ships at JRRF, although all vessels were activated at the start of the war.

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 national emergencies and the James River reserve anchorage became part of the NDRF. Vessels began re-entering JRRF shortly after the war’s end, and the fleet reached its peak size in 1950 with nearly 800 ships.

In addition to the Ready Reserve Force (RRF), the NDRF consists of a variety of obsolete commercial vessels awaiting disposal. The NDRF also hosts many decommissioned U.S. Navy auxiliary vessels. These vessels arrive at the fleet at the end of their military usefulness, and are typically transferred by the U.S. Navy to the Maritime Administration (MARAD) for disposal.

JRRF currently hosts non-retention, retention, and reimbursable custody vessels. Non-retention vessels are those that the MARAD has deemed to no longer be militarily useful. Retention vessels are maintained for logistics support, training use, or long term activation. Reimbursable custody vessels are non-NDRF government vessels (such as those owned by the U.S. Amy, Navy, Coast Guard, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that are stored at each fleet site in exchange for a maintenance fee.