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Sunday, August 28, 2005

Howard Hughes

I was watching The Aviator last night, which covers the life of Howard Hughes only up to just after the end of World War 2. It's a good film but misses out some of the more interesting parts of Hughes life. Later on he became the worlds first billionaire, and the worlds first person to survive on a diet of chocolate and milk.

Here's an episode that will probably be its own movie some day:
The Hughes Glomar Explorer [HGE] was built in 1973 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. for an intricate CIA undertaking. The mission of Glomar Explorer was to raise a Soviet nulear submarine that had sunk in the Pacific, resting on the ocean floor nearly 17,000 ft. (5,200 m) down. The Soviet Golf-II Class ballistic missile submarine sank on April 11, 1968, approximately 750 miles northwest of Hawaii. Naval intelligence at Pearl Harbor had tracked the submarine and learned of its fate through underwater listening devices. After months of futile searching by Soviet vessels, it became apparent that only the US knew the location of the sunken submarine.

Oceanographers have long known that parts of the Pacific sea floor at depths between 14,000 ft. and 17,000 ft. are carpeted with so-called manganese nodules, potato-size chunks of manganese mixed with iron, nickel, cobalt and other useful metals. In the 1970s, Howard Hughes used the Deep Ocean Mining Project [DOMP] search for nodules as a cover for building the ship Glomar Explorer. Global Marine supervised construction of the Glomar Explorer , at a cost in excess of $200 million dollars, and operated it from 1973 to 1975 under contract to the US government. Glomar Explorer went to sea on June 20, 1974, found the sub, and began to bring a portion of it to the surface. The Soviets watched the "deep-sea mining" operation with interest, but did not attempt to thwart it. An accident during the lifting operation caused the fragile hulk to break apart, resulting in the loss of a critical portion of the submarine, its nuclear missles and crypto codes. However, according to other accounts, material recovered included three nuclear missles, two nuclear torpedoes, the ship's code machine, and various code books.

You can read more about it here and here.

Posted by Antarctic Lemur | 8/28/2005 04:26:00 am