Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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USS Glomar Explorer (AG-193) 

Please see below for item level images and donated collections containing photographs of USS Glomar Explorer (AG-193) 

The ship was built as Hughes Glomar Explorer in 1971 and 1972 by Sun Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. for more than US$350 million (about $1.4 billion in 2019) at the direction of Howard Hughes for use by his company, Global Marine Development Inc. It began operation on 20 June 1974.

While the ship had an enormous lifting capacity, there was little interest in operating the vessel because of her great cost. From March to June 1976, the General Services Administration(GSA) published advertisements inviting businesses to submit proposals for leasing the ship. The Lockheed Missile and Space Company submitted a US$3 million ($10.7 million in 2019), two-year lease proposal contingent upon the company's ability to secure financing. GSA had already extended the bid deadline twice to allow Lockheed to find financial backers for its project without success and the agency concluded there was no reason to believe this would change during the near future.

Although the scientific community rallied to the defense of Hughes Glomar Explorer, urging the president to maintain the ship as a national asset, no agency or department of the government wanted to assume the maintenance and operating cost. Subsequently, during September 1976, the GSA transferred Hughes Glomar Explorer to the Navy for storage, and during January 1977, after it was prepared for dry docking at a cost of more than two million dollars, the ship became part of the Navy's Suisun Bay Reserve Fleet.