Suisun Bay

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Suisun Bay
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Aerial photo of the Suisun Bay, looking east at the Benicia-Martinez Bridges. Benicia is on the left, Martinez to the right.
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Suisun Bay
United States San Francisco Bay Area location map.svg
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Suisun Bay
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Suisun Bay
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Suisun Bay
Coordinates 38°04′N122°04′W / 38.07°N 122.07°W / 38.07; -122.07 [1] Coordinates: 38°04′N122°04′W / 38.07°N 122.07°W / 38.07; -122.07 [1]
Type Bay
River sources Sacramento and San Joaquin River
Ocean/sea sources Pacific Ocean
Basin  countries United States
Settlements Antioch and Oakley

Suisun Bay ( /səˈsn/ sə-SOON; Wintun for "where the west wind blows") is a shallow tidal estuary (a northeastern extension of the San Francisco Bay) in Northern California. It lies at the confluence of the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River, forming the entrance to the Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta, an inverted river delta. Suisun Marsh, the tidal marsh land to the north, is the largest marsh in California.[ citation needed ] Grizzly Bay forms a northern extension of Suisun Bay. Suisun Bay is directly north of Contra Costa County.


The bay was named in 1811, after the Suisunes, a Patwin tribe of Wintun Indians.

To the west, Suisun Bay is drained by the Carquinez Strait, which connects to San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of San Francisco Bay. In addition to the major bridges at the Carquinez Strait, it is spanned in its center by the Benicia-Martinez Bridge and at its eastern end by the California State Route 160 crossing (Antioch Bridge) between Antioch and Oakley.

The Central Pacific Railroad built a train ferry that operated between Benicia and Port Costa, California from 1879 to 1930. The ferry boats Solano and Contra Costa were removed from service when the nearby Martinez railroad bridge was completed in 1930. From 1913 until 1954 the Sacramento Northern Railway, an electrified interurban line, crossed Suisun Bay with the Ramon, a distillate-powered train ferry.

On April 28, 2004, a petroleum pipeline operated by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners ruptured, initially reported as spilling 1,500 barrels (264m³) of diesel fuel in the marshes, but, this was later updated to about 2,950 barrels. Kinder Morgan pleaded guilty to operating a corroded pipeline (and cited for failing to notify authorities quickly after the spill was discovered) and paid three million dollars in penalties and restitution. [2] [3]


San Pablo Bay with Suisun Bay at upper right. Wpdms nasa photo san pablo bay.jpg
San Pablo Bay with Suisun Bay at upper right.

Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet

The bay was the anchorage of the Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet, a part of the US Navy Mothball or Ghost Fleet, [4] a collection of U.S. Navy and merchant reserve ships which was created in the period following World War II. The USNS Glomar Explorer was anchored here after recovering parts of a sunken Soviet submarine in the mid-1970s (see Project Azorian). Many ships were removed and sold for scrap in the 1990s. In 2010, plans were announced to remove the oldest remaining parts of the Suisun Bay mothball fleet in stages. The last of the 57 ships in the old Mothball Fleet were removed in August 2017. There are still a number of naval ships in Suisun Bay. Most are part of the Military Sealift Command Ready Reserve Fleet.

See also

Related Research Articles

San Francisco Bay Shallow estuary on the coast of California, United States

San Francisco Bay is a shallow estuary in the U.S. state of California. It is surrounded by a contiguous region known as the San Francisco Bay Area, and is dominated by the large cities of San Francisco, San Jose, and Oakland.

Interstate 780 (I-780) is an east–west auxiliary Interstate Highway in the San Francisco Bay Area of Northern California. It runs from Curtola Parkway and Lemon Street in Vallejo to I-680 just north of the Benicia-Martinez Bridge in Benicia. It closely parallels the Carquinez Strait for its entire route. Originally, this segment was part of I-680 before that Interstate was extended and rerouted to Fairfield. The city-maintained Curtola Parkway continues west from I-80 to State Route 29 in Vallejo.

Interstate 680 (I-680) is a north–south auxiliary Interstate Highway in Northern California. It curves around the eastern cities of the San Francisco Bay Area from San Jose to Interstate 80 at Fairfield, bypassing cities along the eastern shore of San Francisco Bay such as Oakland and Richmond while serving others more inland such as Pleasanton and Concord.

San Pablo Bay

San Pablo Bay is a tidal estuary that forms the northern extension of San Francisco Bay in the East Bay and North Bay regions of the San Francisco Bay Area in northern California.

Carquinez Strait Tidal strait in Northern California

The Carquinez Strait is a narrow tidal strait in Northern California. It is part of the tidal estuary of the Sacramento and the San Joaquin rivers as they drain into the San Francisco Bay. The strait is eight miles (13 km) long and connects Suisun Bay, which receives the waters of the combined rivers, with San Pablo Bay, a northern extension of the San Francisco Bay.

Benicia State Recreation Area State recreation area in California

Benicia State Recreation Area is a state park unit of California, United States, protecting tidal wetland. It is located in the Solano County city of Benicia, 2 miles (3.2 km) west of downtown Benicia and borders Vallejo's Glen Cove neighborhood. The park covers 447 acres (181 ha) of marsh, grassy hillsides and rocky beaches along the narrowest portion of the Carquinez Strait. Southampton Creek and the tidal marsh front Southampton Bay, where the combined waters of the Sacramento and San Joaquin Rivers approach San Pablo Bay, the northern portion of San Francisco Bay.

National Defense Reserve Fleet

The National Defense Reserve Fleet (NDRF) consists of "mothballed" ships, mostly merchant vessels, that can be activated within 20 to 120 days to provide shipping for the United States of America during national emergencies, either military or non-military, such as commercial shipping crises.

Carquinez Bridge Pair of bridges in the San Francisco Bay between Crockett and Vallejo, California, USA

The Carquinez Bridge is a pair of parallel bridges spanning the Carquinez Strait at the northeastern end of San Francisco Bay. They form the part of Interstate 80 between Crockett and Vallejo, California.

Benicia–Martinez Bridge

The Benicia–Martinez Bridge refers to three parallel bridges which cross the Carquinez Strait just west of Suisun Bay; the spans link Benicia, California on the north side with Martinez, California on the south.

California Pacific Railroad Defunct railroad from Vallejo to Sacramento and branches in Northern California, 1865-1876

The California Pacific Railroad Company was incorporated in 1865 at San Francisco, California as the California Pacific Rail Road Company. It was renamed the California Pacific Railroad Extension Company in the spring of 1869, then renamed the California Pacific Railroad later that same year. Its main railroad from Vallejo to Sacramento was completed six months prior to the May 1869 golden spike ceremony of the Central Pacific/Union Pacific Transcontinental Railway.

Sacramento Northern Railway Rail line

The Sacramento Northern Railway was a 183-mile (295 km) electric interurban railway that connected Chico in northern California with Oakland via the California capital, Sacramento. In its operation it ran directly on the streets of Oakland, Sacramento, Yuba City, Chico, and Woodland and ran interurban passenger service until 1941 and freight service into the 1960s.

<i>Solano</i> (ferry) Large railroad ferry that carried entire trains between Benicia and Port Costa in California from 1879 to 1930

The Solano was a large railroad ferry, built as a reinforced paddle steamer with independently powered sidewheels by the Central Pacific Railroad, that carried entire trains across the Carquinez Strait between Benicia and Port Costa in California, daily for 51 years from 1879 to 1930. When launched, the Solano was the largest ferry of its kind in the world, a record held for 35 years until 1914 when she was joined by her sister ship, the Contra Costa, which was 13 feet longer.

The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) was created by the California State Legislature in 1997 to administer the auto tolls on the San Francisco Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges. On January 1, 1998, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) — the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county region — began operations as BATA. In August 2005, the California Legislature expanded BATA's responsibilities to include administration of all toll revenue and joint oversight of the toll bridge construction program with Caltrans and the California Transportation Commission.

Grizzly Bay

Grizzly Bay is a baylet of the San Francisco Bay, and an extension of Suisun Bay, which dips into Solano County, California. Grizzly Bay contains many sloughs, wildlife areas, and islands such as Grizzly Island, Joice Island and Morrow Island. It is also home to the Fifth Reserve Fleet, which is docked off the coast of Benicia.

Martinez Subdivision

The Martinez subdivision is a Union Pacific railway line which runs from Roseville, California to Oakland, California. It is informally referred to as the Cal-P line, after the original California Pacific Railroad, who constructed the line from Sacramento to Suisun and Fairfield. The line is entirely double-tracked including bridges, and features extensive sidings.

This article lists the railroads and a timeline of railroad history in Solano County, California.

Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel Deepwater water channel in the United States

Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel also called the Baldwin-Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel or Stockton Deep Water Channel is a manmade deepwater water channel that runs from Suisun Bay and the Sacramento River - Sacramento Deep Water Ship Channel to the Port of Stockton and the Stockton Channel in California. The Stockton Ship Channel is 41 mi (66 km) long and about 37 ft (11 m) deep, allowing up to Panama Canal size ocean ships access to the Port of Stockton at the City of Stockton. The Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel is part of the vast Sacramento–San Joaquin River Delta that has a connection to the Pacific Ocean. Stockton Deepwater Shipping Channel is also called the lower San Joaquin River.

Simmons Island Island in California

Simmons Island is a small island in Grizzly Bay in the San Francisco Bay Area of California. It is part of Solano County, and included within Reclamation District 2127. Its coordinates are 38°05′49″N121°59′26″W. It is shown as "Simmons Island" on an 1850 survey map of the San Francisco Bay area made by Cadwalader Ringgold, and as "Simons Island" on an 1854 map of the area by Henry Lange. It is labeled, along with Deadman Island, Joice Island, Grizzly Island, Ryer Island and Roe Island, on a 1902 USGS map of the area.

Van Sickle Island Island in California

Van Sickle Island is an approximately 10,000-acre (4,000 ha) island in Suisun Bay, California. It is part of Solano County, and administered by Reclamation District 1607. Its coordinates are 38°04′00″N121°54′04″W, and in 1981 the United States Geological Survey recorded its elevation as 0 ft (0 m). The island's land is divided into 22 privately-owned parcels, used primarily for duck clubs and private residences. A railroad bridge constructed in 1913 once connected it to Montezuma and Chipps Island, from which a ferry connected to Mallard Island and Pittsburg. The rail service was discontinued and the bridges no longer exist; currently, the island is accessible by water, as well as by road on bridges from Hammond Island and Wheeler Island.

Mallard Island Island in California

Mallard Island is a small island in Suisun Bay, at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. It is part of Contra Costa County, California. Its coordinates are 38°02′31″N121°55′07″W, and the United States Geological Survey measured its elevation as 3 ft (0.91 m) in 1981. It appears in a 1953 USGS map of the area.


  1. 1 2 "Suisun Bay". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey.
  2. "Assault on America: A Decade of Petroleum Company Disaster, Pollution, and Profit". NWF. 2010.
  3. Mike Taugher (August 18, 2010). "Oil spill fine goes to restore Suisun Marsh wetlands". Times-Herald. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  4. "Rusty Navy: The Bay Area's 'Mothball Fleet' Enters a New Era". KQED Public Radio. 2017.