ASME-Landmark:Hughes Glomar Explorer


The Hughes Glomar Explorer was designed to complete the secret mission of lifting a 2,000-ton Soviet submarine 17,000 feet from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. The Soviet Golf-II class submarine K-129 had sunk in the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii in April 1968 and the recovery mission—termed the "Jennifer Project"—launched in July 1974.

From 1971, when Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. was selected to construct the recovery ship, to its completion in 1973, the modern limits of "state of the art" were extended from the impossible to the possible.

Some of the major innovations and advances in mechanical engineering included a large center well opening in the hull and a means of sealing it off so that the object could be examined in dry conditions; a hydraulic lift system capable of hoisting a large, heavy load; and a tapered heavy lift pipe string, including tool joints, designed, constructed, and proof-tested to exceptionally demanding standards. The ship's "claw" featured mechanically articulated fingers that used surface-supplied sea water as a hydraulic fluid, and its motion compensated and gimbaled work platform system effectively isolated the suspended load from the roll, pitch, and heave motions of the ship. The Hughes Glomar Explorer's "docking leg" system supported the weight and controlled the motion of the "claw" and load during the transition from dynamic open water conditions to the shelter of the ship's center well.

The ship was re-outfitted as a drilling ship in the 1990s and, in 2015, was scheduled to be scrapped. See ASME website for more information