In March 1968, a Soviet Golf II submarine carrying nuclear ballistic missiles exploded and sank 1,500 nautical miles northwest of Hawaii. Five months later, the US government discovered the wreckage—and decided to steal it. So began Project AZORIAN, one of the most absurdly ambitious operations the CIA has ever conceived.
The potential payoff of Project AZORIAN was tremendous—a detailed look at Soviet weapons capabilities, and maybe some highly coveted cryptographic equipment. But the 1,750-ton submarine had sunk to a depth of 16,500 feet, and a massive recovery ship was needed to haul it up. So the CIA recruited Howard Hughes to provide a cover story that would explain why it was building a 619-foot-long vessel
From our very good friends over at gizmodo.com