Dive to the USS Macon Wreck

Explorers on a six-month ocean mapping voyage are diving to the sunken airship today.

(San Diego Air and Space Museum)
airspacemag.com
Editor’s Update: You can now watch highlights from the USS Macon dive in the video at the end of the post.

Today, August 18, a team of ocean explorers are just off the California coast to dive to the USS Macon. It was a rigid helium airship that, along with the USS Akron, the U.S. Navy converted into an aircraft carrier in the 1930s, hauling Curtiss F9C-2 Sparrowhawks on trapeze bars hanging from its belly. In 1935, the Macon crashed into the sea with five Sparrowhawks, where it sits today. (The Akron met a similar fate when it crashed in a storm off the New Jersey coast two years earlier; the loss of the ships marked the end of the airship carrier program.)

The Explorer Vessel Nautilus and its crew are on the on the last day of the California leg in a six-month mission, mapping and exploring the ocean starting from the Gulf of Mexico, down through the Panama Canal, and with a stop at the Galapagos Rift before reaching the California coast. The work is made possible by the Ocean Exploration Trust, founded in 2008 by Robert Ballard, best known for discovering the wreck of the Titanic, among many others. They'll continue on to Victoria, British Columbia next, so viewers can watch a few more dives until the mission concludes on September 10.

Watch the live feed as the remotely operated Hercules vehicle dives down to explore the Macon and its Sparrowhawks, which will continue until 11 p.m. Pacific time tonight, and send questions to the team operating the diver.

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