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The GOLF II Class Soviet SSB K-129 Actually Sank Twice!


As previously discussed on this site – at least in part - the K-129 was lost on 11 March 1968 because hydrogen out-gassed near the forward end of the after battery compartment (frame 80) exploded at 11:59:43Z in three nearly simultaneous stages that killed or functionally incapacitated the crew permitting a simulated dual missile launch training event scheduled for 12:00:00Z to become the sequential firing of two R21/D4 ballistic missiles to fuel exhaustion within the pressure-hull.


The K-129 sank in 16,400 feet of water at an estimated speed of 10-12 knots, not the 200-knots mentioned in BLIND MAN'S BLUFF, a speed that would have required 14,800,000 shaft horsepower.

Using an Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC) derived position based on analyses of acoustic data that included a tap from an Adak array, the K-129 wreck was located by the USS HALIBUT (SSN 587) using a deep-sea camera system.

The K-129 wreck is located at 40-04-05N, 179-57-03E, 2.0 nautical miles (nm), bearing 180 from the AFTAC position, and 1590 nm from Pearl Harbor, a far reach for the R21/D4 which had a maximum range of 756 nm – so much for that conspiracy theory.

As discussed in PROJECT AZORIAN, The CIA and the Raising of the K-129 by Norman Polmar and Michael White, the K-129 was being raised by the CIA salvage ship, the HUGHES GLOMAR EXPLORER on 4 August 1974 when a structural failure to the capture vehicle occurred while the K-129 was 6720 feet above the ocean floor.

The forward 38-feet of the wreck was recovered but about 100-feet was back on the bottom. The K-129 had sunk twice.

Page 139 of the Polmar-White K-129 book shows a photo of the repaired and reconfigured capture vehicle intended for use during a return-effort to recover the lost section of the K-129, an effort never undertaken because the project had been compromised in the press.

From that image, it can be concluded that the HALIBUT had returned to survey the wreck and that survey had indicated the lost section was still recoverable by the capture vehicle with some modifications. So, the K-129 had fallen 6720 feet without additional damage sufficient to make recovery by the reconfigured capture vehicle impossible.


Of course, we now know - but only since 2009 - that the firing of the two missiles to fuel exhaustion - with 5000-degree (F) exhaust incinerating the interior of the lost section for a total of 310 seconds - would have destroyed the primary recovery “target” of Project AZORIAN, the communications gear and associated documentation.