NPS Opens B-29 Site to Escorted Technical Divers for Six-Month Trial Period 33-07

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Date: July 9, 2007
Contact: Roxanne Dey, 702.293.8691

Two Companies Awarded Commercial Service Authorizations

The National Park Service has awarded two companies limited Commercial Use Authorizations (CUAs) for guided technical scuba diving at the B-29 site, where the remains of a downed World War II vintage bomber are located in the Overton Arm of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. The two companies are Sin City Scuba, based in Las Vegas, Nevada; and Scuba Training and Technology Inc., based in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.  Working with one of these companies on an escorted dive is the only way qualified technical divers can dive the B-29 site. The site remains closed to the general public.

Superintendent William K. Dickinson said, “The NPS has reached out to members of the local, regional, and national dive community to work collaboratively on a management plan that will allow the public to experience the amazing history of this site while protecting it for future generations as part of a comprehensive site stewardship plan. The site has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. This limited commercial service will be authorized for a six-month trial period during which time the NPS will assess the effectiveness of the permit holders to preserve and properly manage the B-29 site.  We want qualified divers to be able to explore the site, but they must do it responsibly.”

During the trial period beginning July 15, dives will be limited to one dive guide for every two clients on a dive team, with up to four teams (12 divers total) per week. During this trial, the NPS may make appropriate adjustments to the guided dive service.These adjustments could include:the right to halt, temporarily suspend, and/or increase or decrease the carrying capacity of this service to address any impacts to the Overton B-29 Site. During this initial six-month trial period, up to 100 visitors (split evenly between the two CUA holders) will be allowed to dive on the site. Safety and emergency plans are required for each dive.

The two companies NPS awarded limited CUAs have set up information for qualified interested divers on their websites:

  • Sin City SCUBA – Las Vegas, NV – Media contact: Geo Hirst – 702.449.8064
  • SCUBA Training and Technology – Lake Havasu City, AZ – Media contact: Joel Silverstein – 928.855.9400

The B-29 Superfortress was one of the first high-altitude heavy bombers and was reported to have carried equipment specifically designed for what was once a top-secret mission of atmospheric research.Because there are few examples of the B-29 left in existence this aircraft is a very significant cultural resource. 

Funding and logistical support for this remarkable dive site was provided by the National Park Service, the Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act, Overton Beach Marina, Inc., and the Southern Nevada Scuba Retailers Association.See attached timeline for additional background information.

The National Park Service has worked with its Submerged Resource Center since 2003 to do a full condition assessment, site documentation, additional inventory work and analysis (including corrosion studies) on the plane in its current setting. Established in 1980, the Center was the first underwater archaeology team in the federal government.  They have conducted surveys in more than 120 units throughout the National Park System using minimum impact techniques to collect data without harming underwater resources. The NPS Submerged Resources Center has been featured for its work on the B-29 in Smithsonian magazine and Public Television as well as on the Discovery and History channels.

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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