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Secret of the Soviet submarine

20 May

In the early 70-ies by the Americans was conducted secret operation to raise the sunken Soviet submarine K-129 …

It all began on Feb. 24, 1968, when a paragraph based on the Kamchatka Peninsula on a military patrol went diesel submarine K-129 with three ballistic missiles, and even with two nuclear torpedoes on board. March 8 K-129 is not reported on the passage of the next checkpoint…

In the navy was declared anxiety. Dozens of ships out to sea. In the air was lifted aircraft. Soviet submarines out to search for groups, and, disregarding all considerations of secrecy, “hammer” on the ocean floor premises active sonar. But … as subsequent events showed, not looking where they should. The exact place of death ship and 98 crew members of the Soviet command then could not be found.


On intelligence reports, three days after the loss of signal from K-129 at the naval port of Yokosuka (Japan) arrived American submarine Suordfish “(” Swordfish “) with a crumpled front of the fence of the conning tower. During the night, in conditions of increased security measures, the Americans had made cosmetic repairs of the vessel, after which the submarine left the Japanese port and made the transition to Pearl Harbor. This gave grounds to assume that between the Soviet and American submarines collided, after which the K-129 sank, about 750 miles northwest of Hawaii in more than five-kilometer depth.

Guilty of a “Suordfish” in the death of the Soviet submarine? Conclusive evidence of the kind. Sam the American submarine commander John Rigsby claimed that damage to the shell are obtained as a result of collision with floating ice floe …

Whatever it was, the Americans finally figured out that the Soviets lost the boat and do not know where to look. It is time to prove himself to intelligence analysts to the U.S. Navy. Material for the research “left at the” office of radio coverage, the station which were placed along the Pacific coast of the United States and Alaska. It turns out that Soviet missile-carrying on the way to combat duty acted fairly banal: the first radio broadcast of control near the Kamchatka coast, the second – at the intersection of the meridian of 180 degrees (the line of the date change), and finally, the third – on arrival in the region.

In the case of K-129 the first message was transmitted, but the second never came. Thus, the search area could easily restrict corridor route deployment of Soviet submarines in the position and 180 th meridian. But such “accuracy” was not enough: the “tube” fell many thousands of kilometers of ocean floor. It is now sonar detection systems – “SOSUS. All records of its sensors in the area of possible location has been carefully studied, but no indication the explosion was not detected. Hydrophones are not fixed and common sounds that accompany the loss of the submarine at extreme depths.

Only one spot was detected a weak signal of unknown origin. It appeared that K-129 before falling to the ocean floor was completely flooded with water. So the submarine is resting now in full integrity, which only increases its value (in the case of finding, of course!).

To test this hypothesis, it was decided to flood with engines diesel submarine in World War II, providing a preliminary free access of water into the pressure hull. All sounds were recorded with hydrophones “SOSUS”, and – a miracle! – Signals coincided with the previously obtained “suspicious” noise in the area of search. Now it remained only to find the grave of K-129.

To do this, use the “Hellibat” – specially modified submarine-spy, equipped with autonomous intelligence apparatus – the so-called “Fish”. Equipped with a sonar search equipment and cameras, “Fish”, managed to “Hellibat, surveyed expanses of the ocean floor.

Search began in late July 1968. Almost a month – and now luck: the sight of American submarine at the bottom, under more than 5000 m thick water layer, lay the entire Soviet missile submarine. K-129 found!

After receiving full information on the place of death of Soviet submarines in the U.S. the idea to raise the wreck. But how?

At that time, Americans knew very little about the Soviet missiles. And there appeared an opportunity to study ballistic missile SS-N-5, with a whole – from the pictures delivered “Hellibat”, experts have determined that, at least two of the three missile silos were left unharmed.

Earlier, the Americans have repeatedly risen from the seabed wreckage of the Soviet ballistic missile warheads, and even practical. And suddenly – a gift of fate. This alone has been of great value. In addition, considerable interest was represented by codes, ciphers, and documents. Although all the codes and ciphers after the death of K-129 had to be replaced, it was possible to examine the logic of building codes probable opponent.

These and other considerations were given in the report of the Deputy Minister of Defense David Pecharda submitted to the U.S. president in November 1968. The arguments presented in the report, argued the necessity of raising the Soviet submarine. However, views on how intelligence was divided.

Naval Intelligence suggested neatly “cut” Corps of K-129 directly to the depth with a controlled explosion. Then, on a plan, would have to act underwater vehicle – an autonomous and remotely operated. Knights of the cloak and dagger “from the CIA insisted on raising the boat entirely. It is hard to say what was the reason for choosing such an expensive and far more risky way of lifting the boat – a purely American taste to all the grand and very-very “or (more likely) a powerful government lobby, but was selected because the CIA version.

Its implementation should design and build a special ship and to prepare highly skilled and trained crew. The whole operation had to be done discreetly, without attracting anyone’s attention. It only remained to find the money and start the operation, named “Jennifer.” For a start has been allocated $ 200 million. CIA contract concluded with the company Hughes Tool, led by billionaire Howard Hughes and adventurer. During the Second World War, the Hughes Company was already working on orders from the Pentagon on various classified projects.

To raise the hull of the submarine with fantastic depth, technical performers operation “Jennifer” constructed a special vessel Hughes Glomar Explorer. Private vessel structures were fabricated by different shipyards and factories in different parts of the country, as in the Pacific and the Atlantic coast. Hughes Glomar Explorer was a floating rectangular platform with a displacement of more than 36 thousand tons. The vessel was equipped with high-powered lifting device, placed on a stabilized portal.

Hughes Glomar Explorer

Upon completion, the ship passed into Redzhvud City (California), where it was added to the barge, pontoon to transport beneath emnyh erection of structures with enormous 50-meter claws. With their help, sunken Soviet submarine had to tear them away from the ocean floor and rise to the surface.

4 July, 1974 vessel Hughes Glomar Explorer and delivered there is a pontoon barge-NMS-1, intended for transportation and erection of structures and giant grabs, with 80-day supply arrived at the designated point. The operation began when the ship was stabilized, weather forecast is favorable and all systems checked. NMS-1 pritopili and started building a Glomar Explorer. Then in the ocean waters began to go devyatimetrovye pipes that automatically fasten to the depth. Monitoring was carried out by underwater cameras. There were used 600 tubes, each weighing a double-decker bus.

After 48 hours of the seizure was directly above the hull of the submarine, seized his giant claws recorded. Began his ascent. Here unexpected happened! Played their part hidden damage the hull. In the eyes of the American submarine was split, and about three-quarters of its body with the bodies of most victims and ballistic missiles began to sink into the black ocean depths. Suddenly out of the mine slipped missile with nuclear warheads, and slowly sank. Everyone froze in horror, imagining the consequences. But the explosion fortunately did not happen.

The bow of the submarine was in a huge deck Hughes Glomar Explorer. The American ship weighed anchor and moved to the shores of the United States. After pumping water from a huge internal hangar experts rushed to the investigation of the trophy. The first thing that struck Americans – poor quality steel, which was manufactured hull of the boat. According to the engineers of the Navy, even its thickness is not at all locations was the same. Climb inside the boat was practically impossible: there was all distorted and squashed by the explosion and cyclopean water pressure. But the Americans were able to retrieve torpedoes with nuclear warheads.

Solving the problem only partially, the CIA stopped in front of the main stage – the need to lift and the rear part of K-129. But in 1975 all the details of the secret operation was leaked to the media. Sensation was picked up by all the leading agencies and newspapers with incredible speed. Because of this, the CIA was forced to withdraw from the subsequent phases of increasing Soviet submarine.

Shortly after the scandal over the operation of “Jennifer” the main participants have left the scene. President Nixon resigned in connection with the Watergate affair, CIA Director Colby was relieved of his post, and billionaire Hughes died from influenza. Nevertheless, the operation is “Jennifer” was one of the most risky and fantastic technological projects XX century, and the creation of the vessel Hughes Glomar Explorer – a brilliant technical achievement of scientists and engineers of the United States.

In October 1992, CIA Director Robert Gates, made a visit to Moscow, gave the then president Boris Yeltsin videotape, which was captured procedure dumping of Soviet sailors, drawn from the nasal compartment K-129.

 
 

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