Jacques Hadler

One of the sadder parts of reporting this story is that so many of Azorian's key figures passed away before I could meet them. Others I was fortunate to meet and speak with just in time, as they passed away shortly thereafter. I'm thrilled to have been able to record their stories before they were lost. That was the case with Dave Toy and Steve Kemp. And I recently learned that another important figure from my research has left us -- Jacques Hadler, the brilliant naval architect and hydrodynamicist from the Webb Institute. He was 99. 

Hadler was a towering figure in the field of ship and submarine design, and lived a long, full life, leaving behind a resume that's almost ridiculous to read. He influenced ships directly, of course, but maybe more importantly by training generations of future architects at Webb.

I spent a lovely afternoon with Jack in his office at Webb, which is a beautiful place on the north shore of Long Island, centered around an old mansion that stood in for Wayne Manor in one of the Batman movies. He told many wonderful stories, but the thing that stuck with me the most was that he, at age 96, was still commuting by car every week from the home outside Washington DC he shared with his wife to Long Island, via I-95. That's one of the most traffic-choked routes in America, a trip that can drive even the most zen individuals crazy, and it shows how much he loved both his wife and his job. Rest in peace, Jacques. Thanks for everything you did for this country.

If you'd like to read a little more about him, here's Webb's obituary, which links to a short autobiography Hadler wrote himself, for his family.

The Final Resting Place of JP

Keith Thomas, a reader of the book who worked as a naval reserve officer in the chain of command of CINCPACFLT N2 Bobby Inman at Pearl Harbor for a time in 1974 wrote to me a few weeks back to say that he was retired now in Central PA, close to John Parangosky's hometown of Shenandoah. He said he was thinking of going to try and find his grave and he did just that - and sent the photos below. Keith recalls Inman's intel group paying very particular attention to the position of an American ship in the remote north Pacific that summer, as well as the activity of any Soviet vessels in the area. That ship, of course, was the Hughes Glomar Explorer. 


The Explorer Actually Did Go Mining

After Azorian finished, and Matador was canceled, Lockheed Ocean Systems really did convert the ship into an ocean miner, complete with a prototype mining vehicle named Clementine II. Here's a great video that showed up on YouTube, from an archival series. It gives a good overview of how the ship and miner, plus processing system for the nodules, worked.


Who Wants to Rent the Glomar Explorer?

In the latter half of 1975, after the Mission's cover had been blown, the General Services Administration and Global Marine began a process to find a new purpose for the Glomar Explorer. The government didn't want its investment to go to waste, and Curtis Crooke knew that many companies and scientific outfits could find legitimate use for its incredible systems. As part of that process, a film was commissioned starring the actor Richard Anderson of "Six Million Dollar Man" fame as narrator. Anderson helicopters out to the boat and marvels at the ship's features over 9 minutes that you can watch here, below.

John Evans and the Glomar Explorer

John Evans was a Vice President at Global Marine Development during the Azorian years. He gave this talk to a seniors group on the Palos Verdes peninsula in the summer of 2015, shortly before he died. Jarel Wheaton, who runs the speakers' series along with his wife Betty, told me this about John and his talk: 

Did you notice part of the way through the video John began sweating profusely and wiped his forehead with a tissue...leaving a piece on is forehead for several minutes?  Normally we would have interrupted the speaker to have him wipe his forehead and pick up again (editing the restart out of the video of course).  In John's case, he was seriously ill and insisted that we not interrupt him because he just wanted to power through the talk.  When he began sweating so much and struggling Betty (behind the camera) had her cellphone in hand ready to dial 911 if necessary.  Five days later John flew up to the Bay Area (from LA) to see some specialists and confirm his diagnosis/treatment to find out "how long he had left." John was delighted with the video because he finally had something to give his kids/grand kids with his story.  

The Burial at Sea

Much work went into preparations for the burial of Soviet submariners, if the Azorian mission were successful in raising the submarine and the wreck still contained human remains. The CIA enlisted the help of the US Navy, and a defector from the Soviet navy to be sure the ceremony was done with respect and in a way that would honor Russian customs. The ceremony was filmed, and a tape of it was given to Russian President Boris Yeltsin in 1992, when Robert Gates became the first CIA Director to visit Russia. He also returned the K-129's diving bell.