Project Azorian: The CIA's Plan To Recover A Lost Russian Submarine.

maximus otter

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#1
In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.


The Hughes Glomar Explorer

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch - the whole expedition was a lie.

The real target of the crew on board this giant ship was a lost Soviet submarine. Six years earlier, the K-129 had sunk 1,500 miles north-west of Hawaii while carrying ballistic nuclear missiles.



K-129

The Russians failed to find their sub despite a massive search, but an American network of underwater listening posts had detected the noise of an explosion that eventually led US teams to the wreck.

It was lying three miles down, deeper than any previous salvage operation. The weapons and top-secret code books were surely beyond reach.

But in the struggle for military advantage, the sub represented the crown jewels – a chance to explore Moscow’s nuclear missiles and to break into its naval communications.

So the CIA hatched an audacious plan, Project Azorian, to retrieve the submarine. That would have been hard enough. But there was another challenge as well - it had to be done without the Russians knowing.



A Soviet spy ship monitoring the Hughes Glomar Explorer

There had to be a frontman - someone rich and eccentric enough to be plausible. The reclusive billionaire inventor Howard Hughes was perfect for the role. He agreed to take part and, in his name, a unique ship was designed.



Howard Hughes

The Glomar Explorer managed to grasp the remains of the K-129, but then disaster struck. At some point on the way up, the immense strain became too much, part of a claw snapped off and most of the sub slipped back to the seabed.

Only the front section made it up. The bodies of six Soviet submariners were recovered and were later given a formal burial at sea. But the missiles and code books were never found.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/deep_sea_mining

maximus otter
 
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#3
In the summer of 1974, a large and highly unusual ship set sail from Long Beach in California.


The Hughes Glomar Explorer

It was heading for the middle of the Pacific where its owners boasted it would herald a revolutionary new industry beneath the waves.

Equipped with a towering rig and the latest in drilling gear, the vessel was designed to reach down through the deep, dark waters to a source of incredible wealth lying on the ocean floor.

It was billed as the boldest step so far in a long-held dream of opening a new frontier in mining, one that would see valuable metals extracted from the rocks of the seabed.

But amid all the excited public relations, there was one small hitch - the whole expedition was a lie.

The real target of the crew on board this giant ship was a lost Soviet submarine. Six years earlier, the K-129 had sunk 1,500 miles north-west of Hawaii while carrying ballistic nuclear missiles.



K-129

The Russians failed to find their sub despite a massive search, but an American network of underwater listening posts had detected the noise of an explosion that eventually led US teams to the wreck.

It was lying three miles down, deeper than any previous salvage operation. The weapons and top-secret code books were surely beyond reach.

But in the struggle for military advantage, the sub represented the crown jewels – a chance to explore Moscow’s nuclear missiles and to break into its naval communications.

So the CIA hatched an audacious plan, Project Azorian, to retrieve the submarine. That would have been hard enough. But there was another challenge as well - it had to be done without the Russians knowing.



A Soviet spy ship monitoring the Hughes Glomar Explorer

There had to be a frontman - someone rich and eccentric enough to be plausible. The reclusive billionaire inventor Howard Hughes was perfect for the role. He agreed to take part and, in his name, a unique ship was designed.



Howard Hughes

The Glomar Explorer managed to grasp the remains of the K-129, but then disaster struck. At some point on the way up, the immense strain became too much, part of a claw snapped off and most of the sub slipped back to the seabed.

Only the front section made it up. The bodies of six Soviet submariners were recovered and were later given a formal burial at sea. But the missiles and code books were never found.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/resources/idt-sh/deep_sea_mining

maximus otter

Fascinating.

There was a feature about just such a ship in a 'big boys' book of fucking huge machines' type annual that I had in the late 70's, and if I remember correctly - which is by no means certain - the story was that it was for accessing some mineral resource on the sea bed. I'm not suggesting it was exactly the same vessel.

It might have been this, but I'm not sure, not that it matters!

s-l300.jpg

In any case there was no mention of using the technology to lift doomed 'enemy' subs to the surface.
 

XBergMann

Fear not, I mean no harm to your planet
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#4
Fascinating.

There was a feature about just such a ship in a 'big boys' book of fucking huge machines' type annual that I had in the late 70's, and if I remember correctly - which is by no means certain - the story was that it was for accessing some mineral resource on the sea bed. I'm not suggesting it was exactly the same vessel.

It might have been this, but I'm not sure, not that it matters!

View attachment 8545

In any case there was no mention of using the technology to lift doomed 'enemy' subs to the surface.
I used to love Speed & Power and was devastated when it merged with Look & Learn before disappearing all together
 

Gambeir

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#5
A friend of mine worked on that ship when it was involved in this stuff. He still won't say anything useful and acts like it's all still ubber top secrect. I did ask him if he was there when they managed to recover part of Russian Sub and he said yes. I asked him if he saw bodies and again he said yes. That's about all I've ever managed to get out of him. His father, I think was some sort of spook but I could be wrong. Anyways he was very young at the time.

Now of course you have to ask yourself one question: Is this really what this ship was created for. or was it going deep sea diving for something more out of this world.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_submarine_K-129_(1960)

K-129 was one of four mysterious submarine disappearances in 1968; the others being the Israeli submarine INS Dakar, the French submarine Minerve (S647) and the US submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589).
 

Cynical Apathist

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#6
When the Russians learned we tried to recover the sub the U.S. needed a cover story. By international maritime law warships remain the property of the country -- no salvage rights like civilian cargo ships. What we did was illegal under international law.
So we told the Russians the ship broke in half and we only recovered a small part of the front section -- the section that would have no classified material. The exact amount of what we recovered remains classified, but most sources concede we actually recovered more -- a lot more.
Enough that over the next few years the U.S. Navy quietly changed techniques and doctrines regarding Soviet subs.
 
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#7
I used to love Speed & Power and was devastated when it merged with Look & Learn before disappearing all together
They were very educational. I learned about all sorts from such books. And despite my flippant remark earlier I don't remember them being marketed as boys' books as such, so I doubt they disappeared due to being too sexist and outdated in the Current Year.

Shame.
 
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#13
So he is! Turns out his late brother Ron was a very prolific illustrator / artist too. Whereas Jerry 'did' Dan Dare Ron did Captain Scarlet, as well as some more 'adult' stuff. Take that, Alan Moore ;)
 

hunck

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#14
There's a short video by a Professor Simon Holland of the story here & a recent update here which if true, is quite a stunner. It contains information from [supposedly] an insider who contacted him after seeing video 1. I'll say no more & leave you to watch it.
 

Dr_Baltar

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#15
Yeah! That was the best.
Don Lawrence inspired me for life with that.
Can't get his books for a reasonable price now, unless I learn German.
I used to own the 1978 Hamlyn hardback annual of The Trigan Empire. One of my "friends" I shared a flat with many years ago would seem to have stolen acquired it at some point. Cheapest I've seen it go for is £35 secondhand. His other collections are, indeed, fiendishly expensive.
 

Desmoducky

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#16
Most of what I read about the Glomar has been pure myth. I hear all of the time where someone knows someone who once spoke to someone intricately emmersed in the Agency’s effort to raise the K-129 (the real story is even better).

Even Dr. Holland’s Youtube videos are pure bunk. His follow up video about a rouge KGB team taking command of the K-129 is laughable! The very idea that the Russians were willing to start WWIII between the US and China is preposterous. The Russians are dangerous but they are not reckless.

I tried to contact Holland to set the record straight but I will not pay money to have the honor of emailing him. He was sold a fraudulent bill of goods to keep the myths alive and to have everyone continue to postulate as to the rationale behind the Glomar Explorer.

The Discovery Channel produces a documentary called “A Matter of National Security”, which was about the mission. From what we observed in the presentation, low-level members of the team were involved. They knew only snippets because the ship’s construction and implementation employed one of the soundest security regimens ever devised.

The real reasons for the ship have not been revealed, yet the effects of the mission exceeded well beyond our wildest expectations and while the mission was underway, we didn’t care whether the Russian knew it or not.
 

Ermintruder

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#18
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