How the CIA Stole a Soviet Nuclear Submarine: What was Project Azorian?


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How the CIA Stole a Soviet Nuclear Submarine: What was Project Azorian?



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How did the U.S. steal a sunken nuclear submarine? Right out from under the nose of the Soviet Union…

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The Hughes Mining Barge, or HMB-1, is a submersible barge about 99 m (324 ft) long, 32 m (106 ft) wide, and more than 27 m (90 ft) tall. The HMB-1 was originally developed as part of Project Azorian (more widely, but erroneously, known as “Project Jennifer”), the top-secret effort mounted by the Central Intelligence Agency to salvage the remains of the Soviet submarine K-129 from the ocean floor.

The HMB-1 was designed to allow the device that would be used to grasp and lift the submarine to be constructed inside the barge and out of sight, and to be installed in the Glomar Explorer in secrecy. This was done by towing the HMB-1, with the capture device inside, to a location near Catalina Island (off the coast of California), and then submerging it onto stabilizing piers that had been installed on the seafloor. The Glomar Explorer was then maneuvered over the HMB-1, the retractable roof was opened, and the capture device lifted into the massive “moon pool” of the ship, all within clear sight of people on the beach

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DarkDocs is a new narrated documentary video from Dark5 taking an in-depth look at at some of the most mysterious stories on Earth. This week: Project Azorian, the Glomar Explorer, and the mysterious CIA to recover the lost Soviet submarine, K-129.

It’s March 1968. An unexplained event causes a Soviet Golf-II submarine known as the K-129 to sink to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean while enroute to its patrol station off the coast of Hawaii.

Publicly, no one in the world knew what happened, where the submarine was, or what secrets might be hidden on board. Behind the scenes, however, reporters caught wind of a classified US government operation to pry the wreckage from the floor with a giant claw and uncover whatever secret technology might be hidden within. The mission was codenamed Project Azorian, and it was launched from a covert ship named the Glomar Explorer.

Pressed for comment on the operation, a US government spokesman flatly replied, [quote] “We can neither confirm nor deny the existence of the information requested but, hypothetically, if such data were to exist, the subject matter would be classified, and could not be disclosed…”

– As images and footage of actual events are not always available, Dark Docs sometimes utilizes similar historical images and footage for dramatic effect. All content on Dark Docs is researched, produced, and presented in historical context for educational purposes. –

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  1. Russ Luigs Wes Global Marines CEO at the time. I got to know him the last 10 years as he liked old planes and his mechanic and I are good friends. I asked some interesting questions about this recovery when I visited his little airport in central Texas.. yes I received some interesting answers. He passed away recently and will be missed. His son is not worthy for life and caused this great man pain.

  2. Imagine if there was a law, that if any media company/journalist etc. were to publish classified military info they'd be branded as traitors and be arrested and jailed/executed under treason…

  3. Late 70s the Glomar Explorer was moored in San Francisco Bay, near Redwood City, California. Had lotsa local tv news and newspapers coverage. This controversial ship was later sold for scrap.

  4. I don't know I heard otherwise
    I heard they were playing in on shoe in ados and one of the captains or crewmate sabotage and gave the wrong codes
    Plus I heard the CIA and the recover in more Intel then they led to believe because the former CIA director said this was one of the most successful missions they had ever accomplish

  5. In 1986 I drew a postage cancelation stamp for the Glomar Explorer for use at the Antarctic research station, Palmer Station which belongs to the United States. Now Palmer Station is a busy tourist destination.