Skip to Main Content
The objective of this paper is to report the results of a recent archaeological effort in exploring the wreck of the USS Macon airship - the last operational Navy rigid dirigible that crashed off Point Sur, California in 1935. This site was discovered and characterized in the early nineteen nineties, but has remained untouched until investigators from Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute(MBARI), Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (MBNMS), National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Stanford University mounted a joint expedition to re-investigate the Macon. The USS Macon location falls within the boundaries of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which was formed in the late nineties. One of the objectives of the Sanctuary is to characterize significant cultural heritage sites. The Macon is considered to be one of the most unique and significant wrecks on the west coast. The purpose of this expedition was to survey, document, and investigate surrounding areas to provide information to assist in determining the future disposition of the wreck site, and to develop a long range preservation strategy. Additionally, new robotic and vessel technology developed and used by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute was utilized in conducting this exploration. This paper will describe the background, research tools, and results of the first systematic and detailed survey of the Macon using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Tiburon, in conjunction with the Research Vessel Western Flyer.