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Document Number (FOIA) /ESDN (CREST): 
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Document Creation Date: 
June 23, 2015
Document Release Date: 
January 8, 2010
Case Number: 
Publication Date: 
March 1, 1978
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APPROVED FOR RELEASES DATE: 01-04-2010 S RET NOFO Despite widespread media publicity in 1975, almost all aspects of the Hughes Glomar Explorer project are still classified, and it is important that they remain so. The widespread vublicitu has contained much fact and extensive error. It remains important F?to protect sources and methods which may have future application. In the course of continuing litigation related to the project?principally concerning California State tax liability, Freedom of Information Act matters, and a patent infringement claim?several facts about the Glomar Explorer project have been acknowledged in court by the U.S. Government. These include the fact of CIA sponsorship of the project for -intelligence collection purposes;" the participation of Hughes Tool Company, the Summa Corporation, and Global Marine, Inc.; and the actions of senior CIA officials in 1975 to attempt to persuade members of the media not to broadcast or publish reports concerning the project. Beyond these few details, however, it is still firm U.S. Government policy that nothing further about the project is to be said or acknowledged. This prohibition was recently reaffirmed by the President's Advisor for National Security Affairs, the Secretaries of Stat,e and Defense, and the DCI. It applies particularly to the specific purpose of the AZORIAN mission; the degree of success; operational details; participation of other contractors, government organizations, and individuals; classified technology; and project funding matters. The following article is being published because it now is possible to discuss most of the foregoing matters and other classified project details at the SECRET NOFORN level rather than in the TOP SECRET compartmentation which previously applied to all aspects of the AZORIAN project. Nevertheless, there has been no relaxation of the necessity to keep most of the details of the AZORIAN project classified for the foreseeable future. PROJECT AZORIAN: THE STORY OF THE HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER In March 1968 a Soviet submarine of the G-II class was lost with all hands, 16,500 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. On 8 August 1974 that submarine was brought to the surface in a recovery system designed and developed specifically for that mission. The story of the more than six years intervening is the story of Project AZORIAN, that is, the story of the Hughes Glomar Explorer.* AZORIAN ranks in the forefront of imaginative and bold operations undertaken in the long history of intelligence collection. It combined immense size and scope, advanced technological development, complex systems engineering and testing, unusually severe cover and security requirements, a demanding mission scenario in an unforgiving marine environment, the potential for a serious confrontation with the Soviet Union, a difficult and technically unusual exploitation phase, and high cost. The project became widely known to the media in early 1975. At a time when the Central Intelligence Agency was under investigation by two committees of Congress and many members of the press, the CIA was credited in some newspaper editorials * The full name of the ship is the MV Hughes Glomar Explorer, as shown in Figure 5. Global Marine, Inc., operates a number of ships with the word Glomar in their names. RET 1 The Glomar Story with pursuing its tradecraft in a most imaginative manner and doing what intelligence organizations are supposed to do?collect intelligence. Other articles were critical of the project, its cost, and method of operation. Many senior U.S. Government officials, including three Directors of Central Intelligence, two Secretaries of Defense, two Secretaries of State, and two Presidents, were personally knowledgeable of the program and recognized it as an innovative undertaking of great magnitude and complexity. Key members of four Congressional committees were also kept informed of project progress and reviewed budget requests for the project. Because the AZORIAN Project was of such huge dimensions in cost, risk, and intelligence value, it sometimes caused difficult problems for the officials who had to make the major decisions affecting it. Some of the questions did not lend themselves to clear-cut unequivocal answers: the intelligence value of the target after six years on the ocean floor, for example, or the political or physical response of the Russians if they should learn of the recovery effort. Because of these difficult questions, there could not be and was not unanimity of opinion among senior officials in CIA, Defense, State, the White House, and other agencies collectively responsible for AZORIAN and the decision on whether or not to proceed. Differences of opinion were expressed and debated in appropriate forums, both before the project was initiated and during its lifetime. These differences are expressed candidly in this article in several places. In March 1975, columnist Jack Anderson disclosed the existence of the Hughes Glomar Explorer (HGE) project on national television and radio. The original press leak had occurred in the Los Angeles Times in February 1975. The Times story was unspecific, and wrong in important facts, but it gradually developed into a widespread security problem for the program before the Anderson disclosure. The original leak resulted from an improbable series of events following a break- in and robbery in June 1974 at Summa Corporation headquarters in Los Angeles. It was thought that among the stolen documents there might be a memorandum from a senior Hughes official to Howard Hughes describing a proposed CIA attempt to recover a sunken Soviet submarine and requesting Hughes' approval for Hughes Company participation. Thus it became necessary to brief several persons involved in the investigation in order to protect the document from disclosure if it were recovered. While the source of the leak was never identified, the circumstances became known to reporters who were covering the story and were disclosed in the Los Angeles Times story. Extraordinary efforts by DCI Colby and others were able to contain the spread of the story for a time, but it eventually became widely known in press circles, and Anderson decided to break it. This article describes how the Glomar project?code-named AZORIAN, not "JENNIFER" as stated in the press?came about, how it was managed and conducted, and to what extent it met its goal. Subsequent articles will describe how the cover aspects of the AZORIAN/ MATADOR program, and other related issues. Project Origin The diesel-powered Soviet G-II-class ballistic missile submarine pendant 722 sailed from Petropavlovsk on about 1 March 1968 to take a patrol station 2 SE N S\TT 3 S'"12.kT The Glomar Story northeast of Hawaii, off the west coast of the United States, where it would be available for nuclear attack on U.S. targets in event of war. The submarine suffered an accident?cause unknown?and sank 1,560 miles northwest of Hawaii. With the 722 out of contact and overdue, the Soviets undertook a massive two-month search effort covering a broad area from Petropavlovsk to the patrol area northeast of Hawaii. The Soviet search was fruitless Senior officials in the Department of Defense and CIA recognized that if it were feasible to devise a plan to recover important components of the submarine, extremely valuable information on Soviet strategic capabilities would be obtained. Organizing for Recovery Discussions regarding the feasibility of recovering components of the G-722 took place between technical representatives of CIA and the Department of Defense during the latter months of 1968 and in early 1969. These talks resulted in a letter to the Director of Central Intelligence, Richard Helms, from the Deputy Secretary of Defense, David Packard, on 1 April 1969. Packard, referring to the sunken submarine, asked for a study of what could be done in the next few years to recover significant components. He asked CIA to take the lead and designated Dr. John Foster, Director of Defense Research and Engineering (DD/R&E) as the point for coordination. Mr. Helms designated Carl Duckett, Deputy Director for Science and Technology (DD/S&T) as the CIA focal point. uly 19 worked ponrdinatpd and annmvpd by 1 John Parangosky and to develop a plan for a 3rogram to recover the submarine. This plan was mid-July lQiC On 17 July 1969, Helms advised Packard that considerable work had been accomplished to undertake submarine recovery; that Duckett had met with and work was in progress to develop a charter for it, that an Agency task force was studying the retrieval problems associated with the sunken G-II submarine, On 8 August 1969, outlined to a high-level Executive Committee (consisting of Packard as Chairman; Helms; and the Science Advisor to the President, Dr. Lee DuBridge) the proposed organization for the submarine recovery effort, including structure, management, assets, personnel assignments, and intelligence objectives. ExCom approved the establishment of the new organization and the allocation of resources and personnel, and agreed that the President should be advised of its establishment. This was done in a from Dr. Kissinger to President Nixon, which the President approve rnest "Zeke" Zellmer, a senior CIA official from the DDS&T, who was a Naval Academy graduate and a submarine :31eputy Director, officer during World War II 4 S ET The Glomar Story agreement describing the organization's detailed responsibilities, ma en s ructure, and working relationships was signed by Helms on 19 August 1969. Among other features, it specified that the staffing of the new organization should reflect the best talent available from the Cl/1 procedures were in accordance with the basic security management responsibility for the new JENNIFER, with the Director of Security, CIA, acting for the DCI. The Director of Security in turn deleted everyday security responsibility to the Chief of the at CIA and directed him to establish compartmentation procedures to insulate JENNIFER data from data relating to other programs. From the beginning, extraordinary security was imposed and clearances severely limited to those with an absolute need-to-know. It was clear at all stages of the AZORIAN Project that it had to be leak-proof to enable the mission to be conducted without diplomatic or physical interference from the Soviets. Therefore, air-tight security and effective cover were of the utmost importance, and project continuation depended upon them completely. The original CIA task force for Project AZORIAN, established on 1 July 1969 in the became the program headquarters complement, carried in Agency records as the Special Projects Staff, DDS&T. John Parangosky, who had previously held key assignments in the Agency IDEALIST (U-2) and OXCART (A-12) aircraft reconnaissance programs, was named to head this staff. a senior CIA officer and Naval Academy graduate, was appointed Security policy and igreement, which placed security system, code-named as his Deputy. Development of Engineering Concept Parangosky initially assembled a small task force of engineers and technicians, who were closeted each day in a large room dubbed the "think tank," to develop an engineering concept to recover the Soviet submarine Because of the great difficulty and complexity of the recovery problem, the task force called on three security-cleared contractors for early help or structures and mechanisms for naval architecture; and tor sensors. Principal criteria for the recovery concept were technical and operational feasibility, timeliness of implementation (get the system into the field as soon as possible for an early recovery mission), and reasonableness of costs. The group quickly immersed itself in the problem, fully aware of the challenge of a uniquely difficult task. No country in the world had ever succeeded in raising an object of this size and weight from such a depth. 1. Early Concepts Three basic categories of lift concepts were considered for use in the early studies: total "brute force" or direct lift; trade ballast/buoyancy; and at-depth generation of buoyancy. Each is reviewed below: a. Total -Brute Force- (Direct) Lift, ref errred to as the Rosenberg Winch, involved massive floating winches with wire ropes of the necessary strength to manage 5 -ttsitcr The Glomar Story the total weight of the target object (believed, at that time, to be about 2,000 to 2,200 long tons). Use of a "drill string" (i.e., a "string" of connecting pipe) was discarded by the task force in the early discussions because it was difficult to envisage how the massive pipe required could be successfully deployed. It was believed at that time that the weight of the pipe alone could not be supported from the surface and still allow enough strength and lifting capacity for the submarine hull section. b. In the Trade Ballast/Buoyancy concept, buoyant material would be carried to the bottom using excess ballast. On the bottom the ballast would be dropped, generating sufficient positive buoyancy to extricate the target from the bottom and help lift it to the surface. c. At-Depth Generation of Buoyancy envisaged the generation of gas at depth to create buoyancy to lift the target. Methods reviewed were electrolysis of sea water, cryogenic gases (hydrogen, nitrogen), catalytic decomposition of hydrazine, and chemical generation of hydrogen through the reaction of active metals (e.g., sodium, lithium) or metal hydrides (e.g., lithium hydride). The Glomar Story 7 The Glom,. Story 8 The Glom,. Story 8 The Glomar Story 10 T 4 9 The Glomar Story Sk`R.Kr As mentioned previously, a deep-sea mining venture was to be used as the cover story for this operation. To support this theory, a mining device would be constructed which could be handled by the surf ace ship and mated into its center well. A submersible dry dock was also planned to complete the system As with all engineering concepts, technical risk areas were involved, and identified the major ones. They were characterized as being within the state-of-the-art but requiring a major beef-up to handle the weights and pressures involved. The control system was also considered a risk area, but its feasibility had already been demonstrated by another Global Marine ship, the Glomar Challenger, which drilled a hole in the sea floor, withdrew the drill bit and then placed a new bit into the same drill hole in deep water earlier in 1970 urther pointed out that an extensive simulation program would be conducteci to aerine the dynamic characteristics and stresses of the system. Initial analyses had not uncovered any unexpected or insurmountable problems. All in all, at that time estimated the probability of success at about 10 percent, a not very assuring number. (This estimate continued to rise, however, as s'CkE T 11 S.KT The Glomar Story design, development, and testing proceeded. Just prior to the mission selieved the probability of success to be about 90 percent.) Helms stated t at t e ad hoc committee of the U.S. Intelligence Board (USIB) had completed a detailed review of the value of the AZORIAN target on which they had Placed the highest priority and onno11rn.(1 in iii,irCCPCCm r.n the President's Science Advisor, asked what assurance there materia Dr. Edward David, was that the desired he also questioned whether it would be in an exploitable condition when recovered pointed out that there were two basic questions to be answered: should the organization proceed all-out with AZORIAN? If so, where would funding be obtained? Packard answered that not all data on fund availability were known, but that nevertheless should go ahead with the AZORIAN project. Some concluding remarks were made by others at the meeting. Dr. John Foster, Director of Defense Research & Engineering, observed that there appeared to be an underestimation by those present of the value of the target and of the impact AZORIAN would have Helms commented that he was more confident in regard to this project than to some others because of the thorough work that had been done up to that point. Packard summed up the proceedings of this meeting and said the to proceed with AZORIAN. He felt that planning should be done on a level but said it would be necessary to identify possible sources o un mg Recovery Systems Modification reported back to ExCom on 24 March 1971 on technical and design progress of AZORIAN. Total cost now was projected to with the 12 The Glomar Story S.-F*1