russian Russian Navy - Soviet Navy - Soviet Union (1918-1991) K-129 (+1968)
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general
nationality russian
purpose war
type submarine
propulsion diesel and batteries
date built 1960
status
live live
details
weight (tons) 2700  disp (subm)
dimensions 98 x 8.2 x -- m
material steel
engine Three shaft propulsion system
armament D-4 launch system with 3 R-21 missiles SS-N-5 Serb Missile with 750-900nm range and one megaton warhead
power  
speed 17  knots
about the loss
cause lost foundered
date lost 08/03/1968  [dd/mm/yyyy]
casualties  max.98rank: 530
about people
builder
Komsomol na Amur, Amur
owner
Russian Navy - Soviet Navy - Soviet Union (1918-1991)
captain Captain First Rank V.I. Kobzar
complement >83
about the wreck
depth (m.) 4900 max. / -- min. (m)
orientation
position on seabed to starboard
protected yes
war grave
updates
entered by Pablobini
entered 04/08/2010
last update Shortridge Ollie
last update 29/01/2014
 
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Pablobini21/10/2013
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Pablobini04/08/2010K-129 was a Project 629A (NATO reporting name Golf-II) diesel-electric powered submarine of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, one of six Project 629 strategic ballistic missile submarines attached to the 15th Submarine Squadron based at Rybachiy Naval Base, Kamchatka.After having successfully completed two 70-day ballistic-missile combat patrols in 1967, K-129 was tasked with her third patrol to commence February 24, 1968, with an expected completion date of May 5, 1968.

Upon departure 24 February, K-129 reached deep water, conducted its test dive, returned to the surface to report by radio that all was well, and proceeded on patrol. No further communication was ever received from K-129, despite normal radio check-ins expected when the submarine crossed the 180th meridian, and when it arrived at i ts patrol area.By mid-March, Soviet naval authorities at Kamchatka became concerned that K-129 had missed two consecutive radio check-ins. First, K-129 was instructed by normal fleet broadcast to break radio silence and contact headquarters; later and more urgent communications all went unanswered. By the third week of March, Soviet naval headquarters declared K-129 "missing", and organized a mass ive air, surface and sub-surface search and rescue effort into the North Pacific from Kamchatka and Vladivostok.This highly unusual Soviet surge deployment into the Pacific was correctly analyzed by U.S. intelligence as probably in reaction to a submarine loss....

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  History  
 
Pablobini04/08/2010K-129 was a Project 629A (NATO reporting name Golf-II) diesel-electric powered submarine of the Soviet Pacific Fleet, one of six Project 629 strategic ballistic missile submarines attached to the 15th Submarine Squadron based at Rybachiy Naval Base, Kamchatka.After having successfully completed two 70-day ballistic-missile combat patrols in 1967, K-129 was tasked with her third patrol to commence February 24, 1968, with an expected completion date of May 5, 1968.

Upon departure 24 February, K-129 reached deep water, conducted its test dive, returned to the surface to report by radio that all was well, and proceeded on patrol. No further communication was ever received from K-129, despite normal radio check-ins expected when the submarine crossed the 180th meridian, and when it arrived at i ts patrol area.By mid-March, Soviet naval authorities at Kamchatka became concerned that K-129 had missed two consecutive radio check-ins. First, K-129 was instructed by normal fleet broadcast to break radio silence and contact headquarters; later and more urgent communications all went unanswered. By the third week of March, Soviet naval headquarters declared K-129 "missing", and organized a mass ive air, surface and sub-surface search and rescue effort into the North Pacific from Kamchatka and Vladivostok.This highly unusual Soviet surge deployment into the Pacific was correctly analyzed by U.S. intelligence as probably in reaction to a submarine loss.

U.S. SOSUS Naval Facilities (NAVFACs) in the North Pacific were alerted and requested to review recent acoustic records to identify any po ssible associated signal. Several SOSUS arrays recorded a possibly related event on March 8, 1968, and upon examination produced sufficient triangulation by lines-of-bearing to provide the U.S. Navy with a locus for the probable wreck site. One source characterized the acoustic signal as "an isolated, single sound of an explosion or implosion, ´a good-sized bang´." The acoustic event is claimed to have originated from near 40 N, 180th longitude.

Soviet search efforts, lacking the equivalent of the U.S. SOSUS system, proved unable to locate K-129, and eventually Soviet naval activity in the North Pacific returned to normal. K-129 was subsequently declared lost with all hands.With the aid of SOSUS triangulation, American intelligence resources would later locate the K-129 wreck, photograph i t in-situ at its 16,000-foot (4,900 m) depth, and (several years later) partially salvage it.In early August 1968, the wreck of K-129 was pinpointed by the USS Halibut (SSGN-587) northwest of Oahu, at an approximate depth of 16,000 feet (4,900 m). The wreck was surveyed in detail over the next three weeks by Halibut -reportedly with over 20,000 close-up photos- and later also possibly by Bathyscap he Trieste II.

Given a unique opportunity to snatch a Soviet SS-N-5 SERB nuclear missile without the knowledge of the Soviet Union, the K-129 wreck came to the attention of U.S. national authorities. After consideration by the Secretary of Defense and the White House, President Nixon authorized a salvage attempt. To ensure the salvage attempt remained "black" (i.e. clandestine and secret), the CIA , rather than the Navy, was tasked to conduct the operation. Hughes Glomar Explorer was designed and built under CIA contract, solely for the purpose of conducting a clandestine salvage of K-129. Under the name of Project Azorian, the salvage operation would be one of the most expensive and deepest secrets of the Cold War.[edit] Leak and widespread media attentionSeymour Hersh of the New York Time s uncovered some of the details of Project Azorian in 1974, but was kept from publication by the action of the Director of Central Intelligence, William Colby.

Months after the salvage operation was completed, in February 1975, the Los Angeles Times ran a brief story regarding the CIA operation, which led the New York Times to release Hersh´s story. Jack Anderson continued the story onto national television in March of 1975. [2] The media called the operation Project Jennifer, which in 2010 was revealed to be incorrect, since Jennifer referred only to a security system which compartmentalized Azorian project data.[2]During the covert operation, the Hughes Glomar Explorer was publicly believed to be mining manganese nodules on the sea floor. However, once the real purpose of Azorian was lea ked to the media, the Soviet Union eventually found out about what happened.

According to one account, in July/August 1974 the Hughes Glomar Explorer grappled with and was able to lift the forward half of the wreck of K-129, but as it was raised the claw suffered a critical failure resulting in the forward section breaking into two pieces with the all-important sail area/center-section falling bac k to the ocean floor. Thus, the center sail area and the after portions of K-129 were not recovered. What exactly was retrieved in the section that was successfully recovered is classified Secret Noforn or Top Secret, but the Soviets assumed that the United States recovered torpedoes with nuclear warheads, operations manuals, codebooks and coding machines. Another source (unofficial) states that t he U.S. recovered the bow area, which contained two nuclear torpedoes, but no cryptographic equipment nor codebooks.

The United States announced that in the section they recovered were the bodies of six men. Due to radioactive contamination, the bodies were buried at sea in a steel chamber on September 4, 1974, with full military honors about 90 nautical miles (167 km) southwest of Hawaii. The vid eotape of that ceremony was given to Russia by U.S. Director of Central Intelligence, Robert Gates, when he visited Moscow in October 1992.
 
 
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