Quick Links Menu.

USS Glomar Explorer (AG 193) laid up in Suisun Bay ca. 1977.
The tops of her towers have been cut off and laid on deck.
Click on this photograph for links to larger images of this class.

Design: Global Marine Inc. and Sun SB
Displacement (tons): 21,000 light (well closed and dry), 63,300 (well closed and flooded)
Dimensions (feet): 618.7' x 115.7' x 46'
Armament: none
Accommodations: 178
Speed (kts.): 12 max
Propulsion (HP): 13,200
Machinery: Diesel electric, 2 screws, plus automated dynamic -positioning system.

193GLOMAR EXPLORER30 Sep 1976Sun SB, Chester--4 Nov 1972No

AGNameTDecomm/CustStrikeDisposalFateMA Sale/Depart
193GLOMAR EXPLORER--19 Nov 200726 Mar 2010Navy sale--

Class Notes:
Deep sea mining ship named HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER with Global Marine Inc. listed as owner 24 Jul 1973. The 1977 ABS Register showed Summa Corp (Hughes' company) as her registered owner under Global Marine, Inc. This was all cover for a clandestine CIA operation, Project Azorian, to salvage the Soviet Project 629A (Golf-II class) diesel-powered ballistic missile submarine K 129 that sank in 16,500 feet of water on 8 March 1968. The primary targets of the operation were the nuclear warheads in the three R-21 (SS-N-5) ballistic missiles in the submarine's sail. The ship was originally scheduled to be completed by 30 September 1972 for a lift attempt in 1973, but technical problems and the decision to widen the ship to achieve greater stability delayed her completion to July 1973. The salvage attempt took place in July and August 1974 but only the foremost 38 feet of the submarine (primarily the torpedo room) were recovered. Following a decision not to proceed with a second lift attempt in 1975 she was laid up in the MARAD reserve fleet at Suisun Bay in 1977 with the tops of her lifting towers cut off and laid on deck.

Ship Notes:
193GLOMAR EXPLOREREx HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER, renamed 1978. To MA custody 17 Jan 1977. Withdrawn by Navy for operation 2 Jun 1978, returned to NDRF for Navy retention 25 Apr 1980. In the SBRF as a Navy mobilization asset from Jul 1984. Leased 2 Jul 1996 to Global Marine Drilling Co., Houston, TX, withdrawn from MA custody by the Navy 5 Nov 1996 and extensively altered for commercial use as a deep sea drilling ship. Sold by the Navy in 2010 to the firm operating her. Arrived for scrapping at Zhoushan, China, on 5 June 2015.

Page Notes:
Compiled: 18 Oct 2021
© Stephen S. Roberts, 2021
Sources: Project AZORIAN, the CIA and the Raising of the K-129, by Norman Polmar and Michael White (Naval Institute Press, 2010)