The “Glomar Explorer,” or Project Azorian, was one of the United States’ most daring and secretive naval efforts. Beginning in the late 1960s, when the Cold War was at its height, the CIA attempted to salvage the Soviet submarine K-129 after it sank in the Pacific Ocean in 1968.
The Hughes Glomar Explorer was created by the CIA and Howard Hughes’ Summa Corporation to look like a deep-sea mining vessel but was, in fact, a highly sophisticated submersible ship capable of lifting the huge submarine from the ocean floor. Although the 1974 retrieval of the K-129 by the Glomar Explorer was conducted in secret, it was a success.
The project was groundbreaking in the fields of underwater engineering and espionage, and it served as an example of the extraordinary extent to which intelligence organizations went during the Cold War. Decades after its completion, the story of Project Azorian was finally made public, providing a fascinating look into the underground realm of Cold War clandestine operations.