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Azorian: The Raising of the K-129
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In 1968 the Soviet ballistic missile submarine K-129 sank in the Central North Pacific. American intelligence located it within weeks of its demise. The CIA crafted a secret program to raise the submarine in 1974. Now after much secrecy, this story can be told, by the men who made it happen and with never-before-seen footage of the actual salvage attempt, and new evidence of the project’s successes and failures.
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The PBS DVD "Azorian: The Raising of the K-129" tells the full, almost unbelievable story of the boldest American clandestine operation of the Cold War (at least of those the public knows about). In the summer of 1974, the operation secretly attempted to salvage the forward 136 feet of the K-129 (which had broken off from the stern section). The U.S. stood to gain enormously valuable insights into Soviet naval equipment, capabilities and operational procedures. CIA intelligence analysts drooled at the thought of the information they expected the K-129 to yield--cryptographic hardware, code manuals, communications systems, torpedoes and one or more missiles with their thermonuclear warheads. The operation would be scandalously expensive, technically challenging, unprecedentedly complex, extremely risky, probably illegal and not at all certain to succeed. But if it did...
"Azorian: The Raising of the K-129" covers the operation in great detail, and a fascinating story it is. Project Azorian cost about as much as an Apollo mission to the moon, and involved equipment and hardware that to this day remain marvels of innovative marine engineering. With cost practically no object, the CIA, through a series of "front" companies including Lockheed, Hughes and Honeywell, built the huge salvage ship "Hughes Glomar Explorer," a remote-controlled "claw" to pick up the K-129 and an enormous barge to conceal parts of the operation from observation. Using interviews with surviving participants, including the ex-Soviet Navy officer who dispatched the K-129, archival photos and motion picture footage and, especially, stunning computer graphics, "Azorian" reveals the whole story in exceptional detail. CGI animations of the design and operation of the hardware are extremely well-done, and make all parts of the operation very clear to the viewer.
This DVD is a must-have for anyone interested in Cold War history, ocean engineering, Howard Hughes, intelligence operations or many other subjects. Even if you have the latest book on the subject, "Project Azorian: The CIA and the Raising of K-129," by Norman Polmar and Michael White, you should still buy this DVD. This stunning visual record of the project complements the book perfectly. Still photos and text descriptions simply can't equal the impact of seeing the project unfold in motion picture form. I recommend "Azorian: The Raising of the K-129" most highly.
There were a number of photos I had never seen before. I was impressed in the way they explained and showed the lifting of the K-129 and the dropping of a number of parts & and sections. I also liked the views of how all the arms worked. The Moon Pool, the "Barge" the grabbers were all presented very clearly.
Imagine 4,000 people involved without any secrets about the true mission of Azorian getting out until the K-129 parts were safely delivered to the USA. Think of the special machinery they had to invent and and fabricate for this task! Think of the valuable info we captured from what we were were able to salvage off the K-129! I'd like to see an actual movie of this adventure. I can't think of a sea story that could beat it.
This whole adventure is something this country should be proud of! Yet when word of this got out, many people throughout the world and many in this country condemned what we had done. The Glomar Explorer became synonymous with dirty deeds.
If you're interested in high adventure videos of true events, I think you'll love this DVD.
This documentary merely scratches the surface of what was involved in raising a sunken submarine from the deep ocean, and doing it in secrecy. The best line in the story is, "...we didn't know you couldn't do that!" So, they went ahead and did it. With so much naysaying these days, and complaining that something is too hard to undertake, I recommend this DVD as a case study for Engineering, Project Management and even espionage students. For history buffs the DVD will also be a jaw dropper.
Azorian is a thoroughly mesmerizing story from the Cold War era. You will need to watch the story through a couple of times because Sherm Wetmore and Vance Boulding almost make it sound like it was easy.