Friday, December 7, 2007

A Little History Lesson

The other day at work, a co-worker told me to GOGGLE "Glomar Explorer" and so I did interested to see what the Glomar was all about. The following excerpt is from the website Wikapedia. I read this article and then discussed it with my co-worker, correcting him on events and when they happened because I had just read about it. Meanwhile my boss stood listening and then commented on how intelligent I was about history....Hahahhaha. I later confessed that I had just read about it thus being able to recite exact dates and events...........soooo TRICKY I am.

My-Coworker having worked at Hughes for a short time before coming to LM had the opportunity to tour the Glomar, he said it was an amazing ship, enormous in size.

Enjoy the reading.............I did.

USNS Glomar Explorer (T-AG-193) is a large ship currently being used as a deep-sea drilling platform. The vessel was built for a secret operation, Project Jennifer, by the United States Central Intelligence Agency to recover a sunken Soviet submarine, K-129, which was lost in April 1968.
Project Jennifer
Since the K-129 had sunk in very deep water, a large ship was required for the recovery operation. However, such a vessel would easily be spotted by Soviet vessels, who might interfere with the operation and so an elaborate cover story was developed. The
CIA contacted the businessman Howard Hughes, who agreed to assist.
While the ship did recover a portion of the vessel, a mechanical failure in the grapple caused half of the submarine to break off during recovery. This lost section is said to have held many of the more sought after items, including the code book and nuclear missiles. It was subsequently reported that two nuclear-tipped torpedoes and some cryptographic machines were recovered, along with the bodies of six Soviet submariners, who were subsequently given a formal burial at sea, in a filmed ceremony.
There are claims from unofficial writers (who provide no documentation nor source data) that the material recovered by the Glomar Explorer included nuclear missiles and various codebooks. It has also been suggested, again by writers with no first hand knowledge, that contrary to the official account, nearly the entire submarine was recovered and that the official CIA account amounts to disinformation to give the impression of an unsuccessful mission.
The Hughes Glomar Explorer (HGE), as the ship was called at the time, was built between
1973 and 1974, by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co., at a cost in excess of $350 million. It set sail on June 20, 1974. Hughes told the media that the ship's purpose was to extract manganese nodules from the ocean floor. This marine geology cover story became surprisingly influential, spurring many others to examine the idea. But in sworn testimony in United States district court proceedings and in appearances before government agencies, Global Marine executives and others associated with the Hughes Glomar Explorer project unanimously maintained that the ship could not be used in any economically viable ocean mineral operation.
While everyone admired the ship's enormous lifting capacity, no one it seemed was much interested in operating the vessel because of its staggering cost. From March to June 1976, the General Services Administration (GSA) published advertisements inviting businesses to submit proposals for leasing the ship. By the end of four months, GSA had received a total of seven bids, including a $2.00 offer submitted by a
Lincoln, Nebraska college student, and a $1.98 offer from a man who said he planned to seek a government contract to salvage the nuclear reactors of two United States submarines. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company submitted a 3 million dollar, two year lease proposal contingent upon the company's ability to secure financing. But the GSA had already extended the bid deadline twice to allow Lockheed to find financial backers for its project without success and the agency concluded that there was no reason to believe Lockheed would find the funds in the near future.
Although the scientific community rallied to the defense of the Hughes Glomar Explorer, urging the president to maintain the ship as a national asset, no agency or department of the government wanted to assume the maintenance and operating cost. So in September of 1976, the GSA turned the Hughes Glomar Explorer over to the Navy for mothballing, and in January of 1977, after it was prepared for dry docking at a cost of more than two million dollars, the ship became part of the navy's
Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.
Then in September of 1978, a consortium called Ocean Minerals Company of Mountain View, California announced that it had leased the Hughes Glomar Explorer and that in November would begin testing a prototype deepsea mining system in the Pacific Ocean. The consortium included subsidiaries of the Standard Oil Company of Indiana, Royal Dutch Shell, and Bos Kalis Westminster Group NV of the Netherlands. Another partner, and the prime contractor, was the Lockheed Missile and Space Company.
[edit] After Project Jennifer
The operation became public in February 1975 when the
Los Angeles Times published a story about Project Jennifer, followed by news stories with additional details in other publications, including the New York Times.
In 1997, the ship was taken to
Hunters Point Naval Shipyard for modifications that converted it to a dynamically-positioned deep sea drilling ship, capable of drilling in waters of 7500 feet and, with some modification, up to 11,500 feet, which is 2,000 feet deeper than any other existing rig. The conversion cost over $180 million and was completed during the first quarter of 1998.
The conversion of the vessel in 1997 was the start of a 30-year lease from the U.S. Navy to Global Marine Drilling. Global Marine merged with Santa Fe International Corporation in 2001 to become
GlobalSantaFe Corporation, which now operates the vessel as the GSF Explorer.

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