Skip to main content
Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary National Marine Sanctuaries Home Page National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Home Page

2015 Expedition to the USS Macon

In August 2015, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries worked with the U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command and Ocean Exploration Trust in collaboration with OceanGate Foundation to archaeologically survey the wreck site of the USS Macon and its four Curtiss Sparrowhawk biplanes.

This project's primary goal was to provide ongoing stewardship of the wreck site by updating site documentation to supplement previous years' surveys. The MBNMS Management Plan emphasizes the systematic assessment and monitoring of archaeological resources as a sanctuary priority. The USS Macon site contains some of the oldest known aviation material submerged in saltwater in the US. Since the discovery of the submerged remains of the Navy dirigible USS Macon in 1990, NOAA and MBNMS have designated personnel to develop a program to document its archaeological resources through survey and sampling. The USS Macon site was assessed and deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, and was listed in 2010.

The secondary goal was to study and benchmark site formation processes for an early modern-metals aviation site. Despite its age and marine organism activity, the metal and organic remains of the aircraft appear to retain a high level of integrity. A detailed study of the site formation processes, along with a sample comparison to 1991 sampled metal, will inform general archaeological knowledge of the potential longevity of aviation sites in deep water.

This survey's documentation methods included creating an updated site map photomosaic, on-site photography and video, post-survey 3D modeling, and materials and samples study.

To learn more about the 2015 expedition, see the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Expedition page.

Reviewed: September 08, 2023
Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service

Take Our Survey | Privacy Statement | Site Disclaimer
National Marine Sanctuaries | National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration |