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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.