the Macon Return to the Macon - National Marine Sanctuaries - NOAA

sanctuaries.noaa.gov

the Macon Return to the Macon - National Marine Sanctuaries - NOAA

U.S. Navy photo of the USS Macon and crew. Courtesy Monterey History and Art Association. Below: The official squadron patch of the USS Macon. Photo: NOAAResearchers Revisit a Sunken Relic of Aviation’s Golden AgeA team of NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Programresearchers returned to an iconic piece of the U.S. Navy’saviation history in September 2006, when they mounteda five-day expedition to explore the wreck of USSMacon, the Navy’s last dirigible, now restingin 1,500 feet of water in Monterey BayNational Marine Sanctuary.Working with the Monterey BayAquarium Research Institute (MBARI),Stanford University, the U.S. NavalHistorical Center, the U.S. NavalAirship Association, California StateParks, the Monterey Maritime andHistory Museum and Moffett FieldHistorical Society, sanctuary programresearchers aboard the institute’s R/VWestern Flyer conducted more than 40 hoursof deepwater surveys using the ship’s remotelyoperated vehicle (ROV) Tiburon.“The Macon is a time capsule of a bygone eraand provides an important opportunity to study therelatively undisturbed archaeological remains of a unique periodin aviation history,” says Bruce Terrell, sanctuary program seniormaritime archaeologist.Scientists used the high-definition cameras mounted on theTiburon to take numerous digital photographs of the Macon’swreckage, which includes the remains of four CurtissF9C-2 Sparrowhawk biplanes once carried aboardthe airship. Among the artifacts located by theexpedition were five of the Macon’s eightgasoline engines, sections of the aluminumstove from the galley, and the nosemountedmooring assembly that sailorsclung to before the airship disappearedbeneath the waves.Chris Grech, MBARI’s deputydirector for marine operations and coprincipalinvestigator for the expedition,said he was delighted with the opportunityto explore the area more thoroughly. Grech,who participated in the 1990 expedition thatdiscovered the Macon, says returning to thewreck site “was like visiting an old friendthat you haven’t seen in years.”“We are extremely pleased with the survey results,the performance of the offshore equipment and operationsteam and the collaboration with NOAA and the National MarineSanctuary Program,” says Grech.3

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