1981 aerial photo of USNS Hughes Glomar Explorer in mothball at Suisun Bay, California. Photo by Scott Harrison.
The Glomar Explorer was built in 1973-74 by Howard Hughes for use by his company, Global Marine Development Inc. to "extract manganese nodules" from the ocean floor. Nope, the CIA built the ship. The $350 million ship tried to recover a sunken Soviet submarine from the Pacific Ocean floor.
In 1974, a portion of the Soviet sub, K-129 was recovered.
Once the partially successful operation ended, no other use for the Glomar Explorer was found. The ship sat in mothballs for years, only to be scrapped in 2015.
The CIA story began to unfold in a Feb. 8, 1975 Los Angeles Times story by William Farr and Jerry Cohen. But this story had the sunken Soviet sub in the Atlantic. The operation actually proceeded some 1500 miles northwest of Hawaii. Copy of story below from ProQuest.
My thoughts on images past and present.