Sunday, October 1, 2017

A new book explores the CIA’s crazy plan to snatch a Soviet sub from the bottom of the ocean

During the height of the Cold War, a Soviet submarine mysteriously sank in the Pacific Ocean. K-129 held a crew of nearly 100 sailors, as well as a full payload of nuclear missiles. Following its loss, the US Navy noted the flurry of Soviet activity dispatched to locate the ship and saw an opportunity to gain access to their rival’s military secrets. They decided to locate and then steal the sub. The fact that this was physically, scientifically, and perhaps legally impossible led the team assigned to the project to — often ad hoc, or accidentally — create, iterate, and apply technologies that would radically change the transportation industry forever.

Author and journalist Josh Dean’s new book is The Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History and tells the story of the project, which aimed to grab the sub from its resting place — three miles below the surface of the ocean. Spearheaded by the CIA and funded by a top secret black budget, the program required numerous uninvented technologies, an outrageous vehicle to carry and implement them, and a fantastical cover story to keep the Russians and the public in the dark—one that unexpectedly helped jump start the existence of an entire industry.

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