Today is the anniversary of the loss of the U.S. Navy airship ZRS-4, U.S.S. Akron, which crashed at sea off the coast of New Jersey in the very early hours of April 4, 1933. The cause of the crash may have been poor handling by the ship’s commander, Frank C. McCord, who may have inadvertently flown the ship’s tail into the water during a storm.
The crash resulted in large loss of life; 73 of the 76 men on the ship died in the frigid water due in part to the lack of lifejackets on the navy vessel. [List of officers and men lost in the crash.] Among the casualties was Rear Admiral William Moffett, Chief of the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics and a leading proponent of the U.S. Navy rigid airship program.
The Akron and its sister ship, U.S.S. Macon, were designed as flying aircraft carriers to provide long-distance aerial reconnaissance in support of fleet operations.