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In early August 1974, despite incredible risks and after six years of secret preparations, the CIA attempted to salvage the sunken Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129 from the depths of the North Pacific Ocean. The audacious effort was undertaken with the cover of an undersea mining operation sponsored by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes.
“Azorian”—incorrectly identified as Project Jennifer by the press—was the most ambitious ocean engineering endeavor attempted by man. Following the accidental sinking of a Soviet missile submarine in March 1968, U.S. intelligence agencies were able to determine the precise location and to develop a means of raising the submarine from a depth of 16,400 feet. The remarkable salvage effort of the K-129, which contained nuclear-armed torpedoes and one nuclear tipped missile as well as crypto equipment, was conducted with Soviet naval ships a few hundred yards from the lift ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer.
The book is based, in part, on the research for Michael White’ documentary film Azorian: The Raising of the K-129, released in late 2009. The research for the book and the documentary forced the CIA to issue a brief report on Project Azorian in early 2010, with one-third of the document redacted.