EYE SPY SECRET HISTORY
THIRTY FIVE YEARS AGO THE CIA EMBARKED UPON A NEAR IMPOSSIBLE MISSION... TO RAISE A SUNKEN SOVIET SUBMARINE AND COLLECT ITS MANY SECRETS
This is the story of PROJECT JENNIFER a secret CIA operation that sought to acquire Soviet submarine secrets, coined two important words in the language of spies; and a phrase that is still frequently used in today’s spy industry...
hirty five years ago exactly, in June 1974, a CIA-contracted vessel built and operated by the business and design maverick Howard Hughes, embarked upon a top secret journey which was to give the US Navy an edge in the on-going Cold War submarine games with the Soviets.
Six years earlier, on 11 April 1968 to be exact, US military officials received intelligence that a powerful Soviet Golf-II Class ballistic submarine (Project 629, NATO designation - K-129) had sunk in the Pacific Ocean. Its location was about 1800 miles northwest of Hawaii. EYE SPY INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE 63 2009
America’s naval intelligence directorate at Pearl Harbor had been monitoring the boat as she quietly passed through the seas, but an array of ocean-bed listening devices suddenly lost her signal. At this point nobody understood what had happened, perhaps the Russians had created an advanced submarine that could avoid US listening devices? The US launched ‘Operation Sand Dollar’, which involved sending surveillance ships and a number of aircraft to the area - but they found nothing. And then the CIA observers were told to back away after the arrival of Soviet merchant and warships. These were soon followed by other Soviet submarines.
There was every indication that the Russians had indeed lost a submarine and that efforts were underway to see if a recovery operation was possible. Other data gleaned by naval intelligence seemed to indicate that shortly before the boat’s signal was lost, a series of explosions had occurred. The Russians were not there on a rescue mission, but to try and assess if there was any possible chance their technology and warheads could be recovered by the Americans. However, the watching CIA believed the Soviets could not even find the submarine - this after surveillance proved they were searching in the wrong area. Analysts at Langley concluded Moscow was confident if its own forces could not find the boat, what