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USS Akron (ZRS-4)

USS Akron (ZRS-4), the first ship of her class, was built at Akron, Ohio.  Along with his sister ship, USS Macon (ZRS-5), both dirigibles had 6,500,000 cubic feet.   Commissioned in October 1931, she performed tests and search exercises in the eastern United States and western Atlantic, including tests with the Scouting Force.   In February 1932, she was damaged during a ground-handling accident but was repaired to test embarking airplanes.  

Departing for the West Coast in May, Akron reached Camp Kearny, San Diego, California, where she had an accident while mooring and two Sailors lost their lives.   Returning to Lakehurst, New Jersey, she had yet another accident in August while leaving the hangar.  For the rest of the year, she operated up and down the East Coast along with testing aircraft such as F9C-2s. 

In early 1933, Akron visited Florida, Cuba, and Panama to inspect base sites for the U.S. fleet's southern operating zone and returned to New Jersey.  On early April 4, while departing on a trip to New England, she encountered a violent storm over the New Jersey coast.  Crashing tail-first into the sea, only three of the seventy-six men onboard survived.   During the search for survivors, the Navy non-rigid airship J-3 also crashed, killing two more men.  Akron's wreckage is about a hundred feet below the ocean surface east of Atlantic City.  In June 2003, U.S. Navy submarine NR-1 surveyed the wreck site where her collapsed framework remains visible. 

Other Resources:

NHHC Aircraft and Dirigibles

Image:  80-G-1009364:  USS Akron (ZRS-4), 1931-33.  Over White House, Washington, D.C.   Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.