Book By Norman Polmar and Michael White (U.S. Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland 2010, 238 pages)
In 1974, the United States attempted to raise a sunken Soviet submarine from a depth of 16,000 feet, in the Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii. The submarine had been lost in March 1968. The operation to do this was camouflaged as an ocean bottom mining operation carried out by the Hughes Glomar Explorer, specially constructed for that purpose. As the Soviet general staff later admitted, the deception was excellent. They did not believe recovery from such a depth could be accomplished.
In thoroughly describing this ambitious effort, the book begins with the story of how the news media, specifically the Los Angeles Times, published an article describing U.S. attempts to raise a Russian submarine, the K-129, from a depth of 16,000 feet. This publication compromised the operation, at least partially. The authors then describe the role of the USS Halibut, which found and localized the K-129. By coincidence, the Halibut also was a strategic-missile-launching submarine as was the K-129. The Halibut’s missiles were the Regulus, an air-breathing platform launched from the surfaced submarine.
The K-129’s missiles were of the “Serb” designation, underwater-launched ballistic missiles, three in the sail aft, with thermonuclear warheads. The Halibut, with its large spaces available for Regulus missiles, had ample room for cameras and other sensors with the missiles removed. These sensors were deployed while submerged in the search for the K-129.