According to the assignment, K-129 moved south along the 162nd meridian to the 40th parallel, after which it turned east. The movement along the 40th parallel was intended to minimize the likelihood of detecting a U.S. base patrol submarine. aviationsince the so-called no-fly zone between parallels of 39 and 41 degrees N was established in the US Navy. in order to avoid interference between the P-3 Orion aircraft departing from the Adak air base (Adak Island, Aleutian Islands) and the aircraft departing from the Barberz Point air base (Oahu Island, Hawaiian Islands).
At midnight on February 26, K-129 transmitted a radio message (CDR) in superfast mode. The forces of the radio intelligence stations of the USA in the western part of the Pacific Ocean of the RSO recorded and determined its belonging to the Soviet submarine No. 722. But RDO itself was not decrypted, and the American experts considered that it was transmitted by the returning K-129 from the next exit to the sea. The error was caused by the fact that K-129 with onboard No. 722 was previously fixed at sea during its test release, and was aggravated by the fact that the Barb submarine did not detect the release of K-129 to combat service.
BY RESULTS OF OPERATION “AZORIAN”
Despite the fact that the Soviet government concealed the fact of the death of K-129 and the special measures of secrecy adopted by the American side and accompanied the operation to lift it, today there is a fairly extensive material in the public domain that sheds light on the catastrophe. In addition, some materials have been declassified and published, including a certain amount of photographic and video materials from the archive of the special operation Azorian (Project Аzorian; previously for a long time it was incorrectly mentioned in foreign and domestic sources as Jennifer).
For a long time, the most likely root causes of the death of the boat were considered:
- a collision in poor visibility with a surface vessel (ship) with the subsequent flow of water through a hole inside a durable hull;
- the failure of the submarine due to crew errors or an accident inside the submarine, by analogy with the situation that occurred on board the C-80 submarine of the 644 project in January 1961, when the measures taken for emergency blowing, full stroke and putting the rudders on the ascent turned out to be late and ineffective.
According to many commanders and commanders of the electromechanical warhead (warhead-5), who served on submarines of the 629 project, the K-129 submarine died due to an unintended failure for extreme depth. The fact is that for their displacement, the submarines of the 629 project had insufficient power supply, which did not allow the crew to use energetic emergency maneuvers available to other diesel boats.
At the same time, for the submarines of the 629A project, the standards existing at that time required at least 90% of the time of combat service to be underwater or at a periscope depth. Complicating the situation was the need to charge batteries of at least 2 / 3 with a nominal capacity to ensure immediate pre-launch preparation at any time, which forced commanders to frequently or recharge batteries, or use diesel for movement. Taking this into account, it becomes obvious why most of the time the boats of this project were in the RDP mode - a very complex and dangerous mode, requiring continuous tension of forces and constant attention from the traveling watch.
Statistics of known accidents with submarines in the postwar period only confirms the version of the internal reason for the death of K-129. None of the boats that had underwater collisions with other submarines, the circumstances of which are reliably known, did not die. But at the same time, the death of many submarines failing to the depth without external influence is known: Soviet C-80 (1961), American Thresher (USS Thresher, SSN-593, 1963), Israeli Dakar (INS Dakar, 1968 ) and etc.
An interesting coincidence: two days before the death of K-129, it was officially announced the end of another unsuccessful search operation to find the Israeli Dakar submarine missing at the transition from Portsmouth to Haifa. The boat sank 25 on January 1968, in the Mediterranean, and was discovered only in May, 1999, at a depth of about 3 KM. The exact cause of death has not yet been established. Three versions were considered probable: as the main one, the failure of a submarine for the maximum depth of immersion for technical reasons, not excluding the human factor; anti-submarine exposure weapons by the Soviet ships of the 5 th operational squadron or collision with an unidentified surface vessel (ship). After declassifying the investigation data, inspecting the hull of a sunken submarine with the help of the underwater robot Remora 6000 and lifting the surface of the Dakar deckhouse to the relatives of the victims were provided with materials for familiarization, from which it appeared that the external impact on the boat was excluded.
Another tragic coincidence can also be noted: the deceased C-80 was the lead diesel missile submarine with cruise missiles of the 644 project, and the K-129 at the start of modernization was appointed the lead diesel missile ballistic missile submarine with the underwater launch of the 629А. Both of them died with the whole crew, both of them lay on the bottom and both were subsequently discovered and raised.
SEARCH OPERATION AND DATA OF AMERICANS
March 10, 1968 after the announcement of the alarm the fleet reconnaissance aircraft were involved, including those deployed from the Northern Fleet. From the airfields of Yelizovo and Burevestnik more than 280 sorties were made by Tu-95RTs and Tu-16R airplanes.
Only on March 14, a group of ships, commanded by the newly appointed deputy commander of the 129 division of submarines (dipl) captain 29 rank Valentin Ivanovich Bets, joined the search operation for the dead K-1. The SB-43 icebreaker, the Vyuga icebreaker, the SS-23 rescue ship and two oceanographic research vessels, were the first to proceed along the deployment route. In the following days, other ships and submarines joined them. Nevertheless, joint searches with water did not bring any results and no signs of the missing boat were found.
The declassified to date materials of the Azorian operation, as well as testimonies and memories of participants in the events, shedding light on the circumstances of the death of K-129, give grounds for refutation of the assumptions that the death of the boat was sudden and transient.
Soviet sources unequivocally indicate that the failed scheduled radioelectronic commandovers from K-129 were assigned on the night from 7 to 8 in March, and on the day of 8 in March, the command of the division and fleet was already informed about the lack of communication with K-129. Thus, the commander of the 29 division, Rear Admiral Viktor Danylo, later recalled that when he was at home with his colleagues and their wives on the occasion of the celebration of March 8, he was immediately called to the office of the 15 Squadron Rear Admiral by telephone. Yakov Ionovich Krivoruchko to a meeting where they discussed the possible reasons for the loss of communication with K-129.
At the same time, American sources provide the following information: the sounds of explosions aboard the K-129 were recorded by the cable vessel Albert J. Meyer (USNS Albert J. Myer, T-ARC-6) 11 in March 1968 of the year in the Eastern Pacific points with coordinates 29 degrees 32 minutes north and 147 degrees 06 minutes W., that is, at a distance of 1730 nautical miles from the place of death of K-129. The vessel carried out planned work on the survey of hydrophones installed on the seabed. The first acoustic event was recorded around midnight from 11 to 12 March local time (around 12: 00 11 March GMT), the second - through 6 minutes after the first. The recordings from the SOSUS hydrophones in the period from 1 to 15 in March did not give any concrete results, because the system had weak possibilities for fixing short-term acoustic events, and was intended for accumulating, processing information and identifying sources that were noisy for a long time.
However, the United States Air Force had another system that collected acoustic information. 1 on April 1948 of the year was launched a system of monitoring nuclear explosions under the control of the Center for Technical Applications of the United States Air Force (Air Force Technical Applications Center - AFTAC). The system had at its disposal space and air sensors detecting factors of nuclear explosions, as well as seismic and underwater acoustic. The submarine component in the Pacific region was deployed off the coast of the Enolvetok Atoll (Raleek Archipelago), Midway, Wake Atolls, and the island of Oahu (Hawaiian Islands). The AFTAC center has at its disposal the hydrophones of the SOSUS surveillance system located on the Adak Island.
Experts of the American naval intelligence 14 in May held a meeting with the leadership of the AFTAC center on the issue of researching information related to the two acoustic signals recorded by 11 in March. The AFTAC specialists have calculated exact data on the time of fixation of these signals by various points. Midway: 12: 14: 30Z - 12: 20: 28Z, Adak: 12: 18: 56Z - XNXX: 12: 24: 55: XXNXXXXXXXX: 12: 30: 12: 12: 36: 10: 12: 33: 22: 12: 39: 20: 12: 40: 30: XNUMX: XNUMX; XNUMX: XNUMX: XNUMXZ, Eniwetok: XNUMX: XNUMX: XNUMXZ (Z is a GMT time-casting symbol - IK).
Comparison of data from the four AFTAC observation points and the SOSUS observation point, conducted at the AFTAC technical center, gave the place of the source of acoustic events with an accuracy of 2 marine miles: 40 degrees 06 minutes north. and 179 degrees 57 minutes w.d. June 9, to verify the calculations, a control series of four-kilogram charges in the North Pacific was blown up, which showed the accuracy of the data obtained.
In 2009, technicians analyzed in detail the recordings of acoustic events made by 11 in March 1968 by the AFTAC surveillance system. Their conclusion was as follows: two main acoustic events lasting 155 seconds with an interval of 6 minutes, which can be defined as explosions of the 2 and 3 rocket mines in a submerged position, were preceded by three more acoustic events in 11: 58: 58Z, 11: 59 : 43Z, and 11: 59: 47Z. Each of them consists of energy pulses of duration 0,7, 1,5 and 0,7 seconds, respectively. These short pulses were localized inside a robust case, since they did not have an “acoustic portrait” characteristic of an underwater explosion, which is more prolonged due to the “bubble pulse” effect and is easily identified by SOSUS operators. There were no characteristic sounds of destruction of a solid hull like those recorded during the identification of SOSUS system records during the search for the missing American nuclear ship “Scorpion” (USS Scorpion, SSN-589). All of this may indicate that the K-129 submarine sank to the depth with an already partially submerged, solid hull.
Thus, when comparing information from the Soviet and American sides, an important assumption can be made that has not been previously considered and not discussed by experts: K-129 for at least three days before the flooding of March 11 was in disrepair with the inability to transmit RFO and a signal about the accident. Assuming that the American side falsified the date of detection of acoustic signals at the point of death of K-129, there is no compelling reason. First, the costly and costly cover-up and legend of the cover-up search and boat-lift operation ended in the 1974 year, and, secondly, there is no sense of falsifying this date in declassified documents.
CIA GOES FOR SOVIET SECRETS
The decision to search for a sunken Soviet submarine was made in the summer of 1968. The search ship Mizar (USNS Mizar, T-AGOR-11) available to the US Navy, which was used to detect sunken US nuclear submarines Threscher and Scorpio, was not suitable for searching for X-129, since at the point of death, K-129 unequivocally violated the secrecy of the entire operation.
At the same time, the USS Halibut special purpose submarine (SSN-587) was in the possession of US naval intelligence, designed to search for sunken objects. The boat passed the test program and already had experience searching for sunken Soviet armaments with the help of Fish guided vehicles in March 1968. The use of a submarine, although it was less likely to detect the K-129, but fully ensured the secrecy of searches.
During the search operation, code-named Velvet Fist, the submarine Halibat in August 1968 of the year still found fragments of K-129 and took thousands of photographs around 22. A Soviet submarine with a heavily deformed and broken hull lay on the starboard side, the stern, starting from the 5 compartment, was located in 100 m from the bow.
When comparing information about explosions on board with existing photographic materials, it is clear that part of the K-129 fencing fence at the location of the missile mines is severely damaged, the cutting casing is turned far to the sides, and mines No. 2 and 3 are higher than the superstructure decks as such, are missing, only jumble shapeless metal structures. Warheads and the missiles themselves inside the mines are also absent. From this we can draw the following conclusion: already at the extreme depth inside the mines there was an explosion of rocket fuel, which led to the destruction of the mines and the aft part of the fencing of the conning tower.
A similar situation occurred on board the K-219 submariner of the 667АU project from the 19 th dipole of the Northern Fleet in October 1986 of the year with a similar-design R-27U liquid-propellant rocket. Sea water penetrated through the leakiness of the faulty top cover and led to an overpressure inside the shaft, as a result of which fuel and oxidizer tanks were crushed. When mixing the components an explosion occurred. After the flooding of the K-219 with all the other missiles, the same thing happened, but after a while. Inspections by the deep-sea survey and search robots of the Lortrodromia complex in 1987, the sunken K-219, showed that all the mines in which the missiles remained are damaged. In the same way as in the case of K-219, it took tremendous pressure around the K-129 sinking below the maximum depth in order for the water to enter the mines and destroy the fuel tanks of the missiles. The mines themselves have a safety margin comparable to that of a solid hull, and therefore they first lost their tightness due to outboard pressure, and were completely destroyed by the explosion of fuel and oxidizer.
At the same time, mine No. 1, although it had damage from explosions in mines No. 2 and 3, but its lid remained in the closed position with a clamped cremal-type lock, which indicated the presence of the missile’s warhead inside the mine. This fact was enough for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to decide on the costly lifting of a part of the hull of length 42 m.
In addition to the monoblock warhead P-21 in the raised part were also:
- two torpedoes 53-56 with an atomic special combat charging compartment (DRA);
- Two torpedoes SET-53M;
- a set of secret combat and operational documentation in the secret part, located on the 1-th deck of the 4-th compartment;
- communication equipment, including the equipment ZAS (communication secret equipment) in the communication cabin, combined with the ZAS post on the 1 deck of the 2 compartment.
The ATP post (communication of enhanced resilience) with encryption equipment and cipher codes was located in the 5 compartment. Frequently repeated evidence in various publications that at the request of the commander of the K-129 during the modernization of the ship, the ATP post was moved from the 2 compartment to the 4 in order to increase the area of the commander's cabin, is nothing more than a fiction. To transfer to another compartment the combat post that has access to documents with a “SS” (top secret) and “OV” (of special importance) stamp, at its discretion and without working drawings from the designer, was not authorized by the ship repair plant. The cipher post was located in the 5 compartment in accordance with the project documentation of the design office - the designer.
According to the testimony of the American side, at the moment of the rise, there was a break in the grips and destruction of the raised body. In the captures remained only 1 th compartment with torpedo ammunition.
However, the composition of weapons and secrets that fell into the hands of Americans, there is no reliable information. At the same time, the captain of the Hughes Glomar Explorer subsequently testified under oath that his vessel had performed six operations to lower the grips, and only two of them were training ones.
The remains of Soviet sailors found inside the submarine hull were buried from the Hughes Glomar Explorer 4 September 1974, approximately 90 nautical miles south-west of Oahu, at the coordinates of 18 degrees 29 minutes c.sh. and 157 degrees 34 minutes w.d.