ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — An area in Maryland that’s home to abandoned World War I-era steamships has been designated a new national marine sanctuary.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the state of Maryland and Charles County announced the Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary on Monday.

It contains more than 100 abandoned steamships and vessels that were built as part of the nation’s engagement in World War I.

It’s about 40 miles (64 kilometers) south of Washington, D.C., along an 18-mile (29-kilometer) stretch of Potomac River coast in Charles County.

It will be the first national marine sanctuary designated since 2000.

Maryland nominated the area for sanctuary designation in 2014 to conserve the shipwrecks and increase opportunities for public access, tourism and economic development.

The sanctuary designation will take effect following 45 days of congressional session after publication of the action in the Federal Register.

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