Catalina Island Museum presents Project Azorian: The CIA’s Greatest Covert Operation, a lecture detailing the story of the highly secret and elaborate 6-year effort to retrieve a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor through mission artifacts and a slideshow on Saturday, Feb. 15 at 6 p.m. in the Ackerman Family Amphitheater.
In 1968 at the height of the Cold War, K-129, a Russian submarine on patrol in the North Pacific was lost. The Russians searched for the sub but could find no trace of it. The U.S. located the submarine on the ocean floor 16,800 feet below water.
The CIA was desperate to recover the submarine and especially its contents to determine if the submarine carried nuclear weapons and what krypto equipment was recoverable. But the Russians were watching closely. Using Howard Hughes mining the ocean floor as a cover, the CIA built a 650-foot ship, the Hughes Glomar Explorer with the goal of secretly raising the submarine from the ocean floor – some 3 miles deep – without the Soviets knowing. The mission, codenamed Project Azorian, was one of the most complex, expensive and secretive intelligence operations of the Cold War.
Local Catalina Island resident, Charlie Canby, a naval architect and marine engineer, worked on the design of the ship and sailed on the Hughes Glomar Explorer in the capacities of an ordinary seaman and welder. Canby served as the Resident Naval Architect on the actual recovery mission in 1974. During the lecture, Canby will take attendees on a journey telling the story of this 6-year mission through artifacts and a slideshow lecture including the conceptual design of the ship, the cover story and the recovery mission itself. He will also detail the mysteries of why the Hughes Glomar Explorer anchored four times at the Isthmus (Two Harbors) at Catalina Island.
Saturday, February 15 | 6 p.m. (Doors open at 5 p.m.)
Ackerman Family Amphitheater
Catalina Island Museum, 217 Metropole Avenue, Avalon, CA 90704
Children (ages 3-15): Free with paid adult admission
The Catalina Island Museum offers the best in art and history exhibitions, music and dance performances, lectures by guest speakers from all over the world, and the finest in silent, documentary and international film. Open seven days a week, the new Ada Blanche Wrigley Schreiner Building is located in the heart of Avalon at 217 Metropole Avenue. For more information, the museum may be reached by phone at 310-510-2414 or at its website: CatalinaMuseum.org.