CIA declassifies controversial submarine recovery project

Glomar Explorer

Glomar Explorer

By IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
I have written before about the CIA’s controversial 1974 project to recover a Soviet submarine that had sunk in 1968, in 17,000 feet of water, about 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. The project involved the infamous ship Hughes Glomar Explorer and was led by CIA agent Christopher Fitzgerald, who died last year. But the CIA recovery team nearly caused a nuclear explosion when the submarine split while being raised, and its body hit the ocean floor. Now the CIA has for the first time declassified a substantial document relating to the project, codenamed AZORIAN. The document is a lengthy article first published in 1985 in the mostly classified CIA research journal Studies in Intelligence, written by an unnamed CIA team member who participated in the recovery effort. The article, which has been declassified in response to a 2007 Freedom of Information Act request by George Washington University’s National Security Archive, details the conceptual and planning stages of Project AZORIAN, which involved the construction of the Glomar Explorer. The National Security Archive has also published recently-declassified White House memoranda of conversations that took place in 1975 between President Gerald Ford and members of his cabinet, concerning attempts by the US media to unearth information on the project.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

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