Apollo Investigation

The Odyssey of the Lost Apollo CM

A detailed analysis of the April 1970 event

Over the years, the Apollo investigation has involved analysis of the Apollo lunar surface images – concluding that they were staged. Then the serious underperformance problems with the Saturn V became apparent. The presence of hazardous radiation potentially endangering astronauts was not resolved by 1969/70 – nor had NASA achieved the essential skip re-entry technique for lunar returns. Now it appears that at least in the case of Apollo 13, the mission was aborted shortly after take off with the command module downing in the Atlantic.


Did the April 1970 Apollo 13 mission end just minutes after it began?

April 1970: NASA launches Apollo 13, but apparently it aborts
only minutes later –
an emergency splashdown in the eastern Atlantic.
The Soviets then recover an Apollo module that had “fallen from space".
But all is not lost. The US sends an icebreaker to a Russian port to bring home the lost Apollo module.
Was this event the real Apollo 13 accident?

Proton rocket
The Soviet Proton rocket launched the Zond 5 spacecraft which stimulated the US into scheduling the Apollo 8 mission. Today it remains one of the most successful boosters ever.

The process that led to the 1970 Murmansk handover of an Apollo module has been set out by Russian authors Bulatov and Boyko (B&B) in The April Odyssey and the November Boat. Authors B&B posit that the pursuit of the Soviet lunar program was intended to stimulate the United States into forging ahead faster than was technically feasible and thus force them into simulating the Apollo missions.

With a contemporary Russian perspective on the historical analysis of the race to the Moon (generally undertaken by European or American researchers) B&B tell the story of how the USSR used the Apollo 13 mission to obtain the proof required to turn these conditions to its own advantage.

But that hypothesis might not be the whole picture.

The Soviet Union’s expertise in rocket technology and its opinions concerning manned lunar missions had already been made known to the US and to the UK back in 1963 via astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell of the British University of Manchester’s Jodrell Bank Observatory. Already involved in the Soviet-American satellite treaty,1 Lovell’s cordial relations with west and east enabled a frank exchange of views regarding the possibility of manned lunar missions. As the Soviets put it:

• Soviet scientists could see no immediate solution to the problem of protecting cosmonauts from the lethal effects of intense solar outbursts.
• No economically practical solution could be seen [in] launching sufficient material on the Moon for a useful manned exercise with reasonable guarantee of safe return to Earth.
• The Academy is convinced that the scientific problems involved in the lunar exploration can be solved more cheaply and quickly by their unmanned, instrumented lunar program.

M Keldysh
Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh

The President of the USSR Academy of Sciences (1961-1975) Mstislav Keldysh added that the idea of sending cosmonauts would be revived if the issues raised in those three ‘objections’ were overcome. To this day these challenges have not been resolved.2

Sir Bernard Lovell, writing to Aulis Publishers during the preparation of Dark Moon: Apollo & the Whistle-Blowers reiterated the above statements while expressing his amazement at the lack of concern from the Americans regarding the serious problems of radiation and safer returns to Earth. He finished his letter by saying:

…My response applies to the attitudes of the 1960 epoch and not to more recent attitudes. Since that time the long duration flights of men in space will have made possible a far more realistic assessment of radiation dangers than was possible in the 1960s.

Indeed they have, from the limited presence of men orbiting in low-Earth orbit, (LEO) and from probes sent out into the solar system examining the Van Allen Belts, the lunar environment and Mars, it can be seen that the Soviets were right to be concerned about the ability of the human being to cope with the effects of space travel and radiation, as currently practised. And the Constellation/Orion program for the Moon and Mars confirms that nothing has changed. Items one and two are still major issues [here and here].

The Devil is always in the Detail

When preparing the translated version of B&B's Russian article we came across what seemed to be confusing information and gaps in the storyline and timeline of these major events. As it turns out, some of these anomalies were largely due to the fact that the original article expected the reader to refer to Russian websites. In order to fill these gaps for the English version, it became necessary to undertake further research into this Apollo/Murmansk event, and in so doing, we came across aspects to this 1970s saga which both supported the initial premise of the Russian authors (with regard to the USSR’s awareness of the limitations of the Apollo Saturn V and the US lunar program) while at the same time revealing aspects of this event which hinted at less competition and more complicity between these nations pursuing a Cold War, than is generally accepted.

As a result of the above, the actions of all those involved in the recovery and return of this Apollo module acquired a different perspective. As did the term ‘Covert Operation’. All of which led us to to ask even more questions about the Apollo record, and that of Apollo 13 in particular, relative to the hidden aspects of the Murmansk handover.

• Is it fully appreciated that, according to the Russians, there was at least one Soviet submarine in close proximity the Apollo 13 command module (CM) abort area?
• Did the actions of the Soviet Union in 1970 (as outlined by B&B) threaten to blow apart the credibility of the entire Apollo project?
• Did the US Coast Guard cutter Southwind go to Murmansk specifically to collect this Apollo module on the weekend of 5-6 September 1970?
• Is there an on-going agreement between the US and the USSR to keep this entire incident secret?

Working the Problem

The lack of clarity and coherence manifest in the statements of the various authorities concerned, as well as the press reports on this matter, is a warning sign that the official story of what happened with this Apollo module cannot be as presented. The fact that discrepancies in what should be a perfectly simple timeline of events continue to this day, should give pause for thought. Taken together with the Russian’s inestimable research, this investigation is intended to help the reader navigate the discrepancies, confusion and obfuscation surrounding the events which took place in the Atlantic in April 1970.

Obfuscation, and contradictory statements generally signify the restriction of data and the desire to keep it that way.3 Which is not surprising, because should it be adequately demonstrated that just after launch on April 11 1970, the Apollo 13 CM splashed down in the north Atlantic and was removed – whether by the US or by the Soviets – it follows that there could have been no ‘accident’ on April 13, 1970 nor any subsequent splashdown of the crew in the Pacific on April 17. Apollo 13’s ‘dramatic Odyssey’ would certainly be a return home – but not as recorded for posterity in the Apollo record.

Soviet November class nuclear submarine.

Piecing together the information from various historical documents relative to the Russian’s hypothesis, a timeline of notable events from April 1970 to January 1971 emerges:

April 10-12 – The Soviet K-8 November class nuclear submarine saga occurs in the north Atlantic. (Note that the north Atlantic defines all of the Atlantic Ocean above the equator.)
April 11 – Launch of Apollo 13, 19:13 UTC/ GMT/14:15 EST.
April 11 – Apollo 13 CM emergency splashdown in the north Atlantic. Module appropriated by the USSR.
April 13 – Pentagon releases press statements to US media on the apparent sinking of the K-8 sub.
April 13 – The official Apollo 13 accident occurs, during its outgoing lunar trajectory.
April 14 – US media publishes K-8 'Pentagon statements'.
May 11-17 – A month after Apollo 13 NASA administrator Thomas Paine meets Soviet Academy of Sciences’ Anatoly Blagonavov in New York, USA.
June 15 – The US Coast Guard Cutter Southwind leaves on a five-month Arctic mission.
July 31 – NASA administrator Thomas Paine writes to Mstislav Keldysh, President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, discussing the feasibility of a joint space docking program.

Note that B&B record that the Soviets did not think the United States even had the technical capacity to reach LEO with a manned spacecraft, and for this reason the Soviets knew that NASA had to fake their part of the Apollo-Soyuz project as well. We shall come back to that issue, as it supplies a valid reason for making an Apollo CM available to the Soviets without being seen to do so.

T Paine
Dr. Thomas Paine (right).

September 4 – US embassy officials from Moscow visit Murmansk to inspect the ‘capsule’.
September 5-7 USCGC Southwind docks in Murmansk, USSR,

‘Because we had to stop somewhere and the Southwind had sailed under the Russian flag.’
said Captain Cassidy.4
September 6 – The module is loaded aboard the Southwind in Murmansk.
September 7 – The Southwind leaves Murmansk for the Kara Sea.
September 15 – Paine resigns as Administrator at NASA.
October 26-28 – First NASA delegation in Star City USSR, swopping sketches for a docking system that would suit the matching of an Apollo-Soyuz craft.5 To have ‘sketches’ ready for consultation (blueprints might be more accurate) means that engineers were working on known differences in the architecture/engineering of each other’s capsules much earlier than October 1970.

October 1970 agreement signing by the Americans.

October 28 – NASA and Soviet representatives assemble at the Presidium of the Soviet Academy to sign the "Summary of Results."
November 18-22 – The Baltimore Sun & the US Navy’s Navy Times, publish articles on the Southwind’s return. These articles refer to the ‘historic’ Murmansk visit, but ignore the return of the Apollo module.
January 16 1971 – as far as the public were concerned this was the date generally considered as the conception of the ASTP by NASA historians, when Paine was in Moscow dealing with the detail and organising the return visit of Soviet scientists to NASA which took place six months later on June 20, 1971.6

That seven-day New York meeting back in May 1970 between Paine and Blagonovov might well have incorporated the setting out of the terms and conditions of the USSR ‘pressure on the US program’. So let’s see if we can decode this tapestry of confusing information, which much like Penelope’s efforts to gainsay her suitors while waiting for her Odysseus to return home, keeps being stitched and unstitched.

And for that we take up where authors Bulatov and Boyko start.

In September 1970, twenty-one weeks after the launch of Apollo 13, the Soviets officially handed back an Apollo capsule to the Commander of the United States Coast Guard Cutter, Southwind. Appropriately enough for this Cold War event, the ice-breaker was visiting Murmansk on ‘a goodwill visit’.

Goodwill Handshake

From the point of view of authors B&B the Murmansk rendezvous for the return of the Apollo module was intended to be a distraction, since misdirecting attention onto this ‘boilerplate’ – officially described as a boilerplate model number BP-1227 – removed the idea, should it ever occur to the observer, that it could be associated with any actual Apollo CM.

Creating a mass of confusion as to the actual data surrounding the recuperation of BP-1227 and adding to it over time, would occupy the attention of anyone coming across this story. This has largely been a success, the details surrounding this surprising weekend of détente during the ongoing Cold War do indeed vary across all accounts. And as B&B have also discovered, many investigators have been happy to follow the ‘received storyline’ to the point of resisting any additional information which might cause them to alter their personal take on this event. However, an intensive investigation into the circumstances surrounding the Murmansk meeting has produced some surprising facts.


A scrutiny of the data and photos from the Southwind website7 suggests that even if the commanding officer Captain Cassidy was reported in the press as saying that the stopover was because 'we had to stop somewhere', in fact this handover between the US and the USSR was far less spontaneous than that. The visible clue to the preplanning of this expedition lies in the mode of transport: the Apollo module was returned to the United States in the location normally occupied by the cutter’s single 5-inch gun. For this to be possible the gun had to have been removed prior to the Southwind's departure from the USA on its June 15 to November 17 1970 Arctic East 70 tour.

And in this regard, USCGC Southwind has form. The year before, during Operation Deep Freeze (Novenber 14 1968 to April 3 1969] the Southwind lost its gun, carried out a military mission and performed a discreet ‘diplomatic’ visit. Operation Deep Freeze demonstrates precedent, and as both voyages are seemingly linked to Apollo, and the Murmansk expedition looks to be run on the same principles, it is necessary to look at those three aspects of that Antarctic mission.8

Southwind gun mounted
USCGC Southwind in 1967 with its single 5-inch gun mounted on her foredeck.

USCGC Southwind without the 5-inch gun.

Losing the Gun

A sailor has posted his personal log on Southwind's website. He records that having left the US Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Baltimore Maryland at 10:00 on Sunday October 13, they first called in at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard, (NNSY) in Portsmouth, Virginia, before setting off for the McMurdo Sound in the Antarctic. The NNSY is the US Navy facility for building, remodelling and repairing the Navy's ships. He writes,

Anchored off Naval Operations Base, Norfolk, Virginia the morning of the 14 October, and started loading on what little munitions we were taking on board. Since they took off our 5-inch gun in the yard, we had very little to load. …We left Norfolk that night and headed out to sea here.


Given the later example of the Murmansk 1970 handover, clearly the gun emplacement, which could support a mass of 40,900lb/ 18,600kg was a useful location to stow heavy and perhaps sensitive military equipment. However, there is no mention of this pre-voyage ‘remodelling’ procedure in the official story of Antarctic Operation Deep Freeze Antarctic Journal written jointly by the commanding officer Captain Sumner R. Dolber and the executive officer, Commander Bob Getman, but then they do say that their choice of subjects is ‘selective’.

Loading the Gear

The USCGC Southwind’s Deep Freeze list of primary operations scheduled a visit to Heard Island, (an Australian possession in the sub-Antarctic, SSE of Africa) from March 11 through to March 17 1969. Sailor Sumrell Jr’s personal log records,

We left Perth on the morning of the 4th with the fantail and the flight deck loaded down with supplies for Heard Island where we were going to help the [US] Army build the satellite tracking station.

And from this it seems the gun emplacement was not required for this portion of the voyage. However, the Southwind’s cruise report records this primary operation in different terms:9

[The] US Army Topographic Command constructed buildings at Heard Island, established amateur radio, 2800 contracts in 86 countries.

If this brings to mind those ‘amateur radio reports’ relative to Apollo 11, one also wonders if the Australian government was in the same loop as the Americans when it came to the activities taking place on the appropriately named Heard Island [see Appendix]. Especially when our intrepid sailor Sumrell Jr. tells us,

…The progress of the station continued, and our departure date was March 17. This station is only going to be used for a year then everything is torn down and hauled away’ [emphasis added].

In Apollo terms, that’s missions Apollo 10 through Apollo 13. Bearing in mind the B&B statement regarding the capacities of the Apollo technology that’s some coincidental timing.

Landing on a Need to Know

Sailor Sumrell Jr. mentions that after leaving Heard Island they headed up to Port Louis, Mauritius where the ship was repainted. After three days in port, they left – not knowing where they were going,

We left the morning of the 28th [March] but didn‘t know where we were headed for. That afternoon at quarters the Captain told us we were going to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Zanzibar, an island of Tanzania. We were being sent by the State Department as good-will ambassadors of the U.S. because our relations with Tanzania were a little shaky. We were to be the first U.S. naval ship to go there in six years [emphasis added].

One can see why it would seem appropriate to arrive with a bright clean ship but without a gun facing down the Tanzanian reception committee. It would give quite the wrong impression! Radioman RM2 Bill Seibt had this to say,

Now, the reason for the whole trip in the first place, which had been kept quiet from most of the crew for the whole cruise and was also the reason we had been trailed by a Russian vessel ever since we left Perth: We were going to be the first U.S. vessel to visit Dar Es Salaam (Port of Peace), Tanzania, in 12 years, since they had revolted and thrown everybody out…
No one knew what to expect or how it would go, but we had high hopes for a good visit… The only downside to this visit was that out of concern for the safety of the crew we could only have Cinderella Liberty. Everyone had to be back on the ship by midnight… This counted as a real highlight because of the uniqueness of the experience, for me. [emphasis added]

The Southwind’s Murmansk trip would feature the very same ingredients: it was described as a unique voyage by the USCGC, it was dogged by a Soviet vessel around the period of its ‘military mission’ and it had a ‘first time secret destination’ port call with Cinderella Liberty for the crew.

Back in the USSR

It’s clear that the Murmansk handover was handled by the USCGC Southwind in a variation of the lose, load and land mode previously adopted. Employing the same procedure as for the earlier Tanzanian expedition, the Southwind left Baltimore on June 15, 1970 for its ‘unique' Arctic East 70 specially prepared to collect a heavy load. The gun would have been removed in the Norfolk Naval Yard, on June 16 and reinstalled on her return on November 16 prior to the cutter returning home to Curtis Yard on November 17. Captain Ed Cassidy’s reason for stopping off at Murmansk because they had to stop somewhere was a whimsical notion served up for the media. The US Coast Guard is an Armed Service and a member of the Intelligence Community.10

The US State Department furnishing his orders, and the crew learning what they needed to know, when the captain decided to tell them. That would be after their departure from Tromso, Norway if the Tanzanian model holds. Indeed it does, Southwind crew member Roger R. Reece had this to say,

"The only thing I can recall is that we were not informed of picking up the Apollo capsule until we were a few days out of Murmansk."

In fact, the Murmansk handover appears to have been a markedly more military operation than a diplomatic social visit. Nobody bothered to smarten up the ship’s paintwork for Murmansk, nor did they bother to mention this historic moment on the list of notable milestones in the Southwind’s career. But then the heading to this list of career highlights adopts that favourite word ‘selected.’ The USCG’s military history of the cutters does include the module. While the United States Coast Guard’s official website selects the historical aspect of the trip while forgetting all about a module – which it is later going to claim is BP-1227,11

And in another historic first, she [the Southwind] became the first U.S. naval vessel to call at the port of Murmansk, USSR, since World War II. While in Murmansk, from 4 to 7 September 1970, over 700 local citizens visited the ship. CAPT Cassidy paid homage to Soviet and American dead at a local cemetery where American and other Allied sailors killed near Murmansk were buried...

These must be the original dates agreed by the US and the USSR. As 25-year old helicopter pilot from the Southwind LtTLG/LT Stephen E. Goldhammer says the pilot arrived on board the Southwind at seven-forty in the morning of Saturday September 5,

On 5 September, we began one of the most amazing experiences a person could ever have, a visit to Murmansk, Russia for two nights in the middle of the Cold War! CAPT Cassidy had requested permission from the U.S. State Department for the port call. The request was granted because it was a homecoming for Southwind! How can that be? After World War II, the US had a ‘lend lease’ program with our [then] ally, Russia. Southwind, then USS Atka, was lent to the Russians [in 1945] as part of that program and homeported in Murmansk. It was returned to the U.S. several years later [1949] and eventually given to the Coast Guard [1951].

Clearly the Soviets were fully prepared for the Americans. During the three hours it took to reach port in Murmansk, he describes seeing naval and seaplane bases but notes that the submarine fleet was protected by burlap screens to prevent them from seeing anything. Goldhammer’s record of this trip is worth a read, especially since he records the Sunday September 6 loading of the Apollo module completely out of sequence. Entering the day’s events from morning to midnight he then logs this,

Gemini capsule

CMApollo command module

1800. We took aboard a practice NASA space capsule that the Russians had found somewhere. It looked like a dummy Gemini capsule. The Russian TV news had said that one of our reasons for coming here was to pick up the capsule.

Which is more than the US were saying. That a helicopter pilot would mistake the two man long-snouted Gemini capsule design for the larger three man cone-shaped Apollo module is highly unlikely, especially this particular pilot. Stephen Goldhammer together with his father Walter, were both high profile USCGC men, as well as being the only father & son flying team in the USCGC.12

That a serving officer would fill out a log in an out-of-time fashion is equally unlikely – unless it was intentional. In the previous entry, for 19:00-23:55, he mentions the Cinderella Liberty ‘return by midnight’ imposed on the crew and states that he doesn’t speak Russian. Whether it was one of the Soviet liaison officers on board the Southwind since the 5th, the Army Lt. Col. up from Moscow, who told him how special it was for an American ship to visit or someone else, it means that a friendly Russian linguist had informed him that the collection of said module had been pre-arranged.

Handover prior to loading the module, Murmansk, Russia – weekend of September 5-7 1970 (Icebreaker Southwind in left background). In Paris in the 1970s ‘Le CInq à Sept’ was shorthand for conducting an illicit affair or dalliance between leaving the office at 5pm and reaching home at 7pm. Nice to see the Southwind’s voyage maintaining the tradition both in the number of days during which the US/USSR exchange took place, and with the Apollo module transfer consummated on the 6th at 6pm. Perfect..... Photo: Hungarian Press, published Sept 8, 1970.13

From the evidence presented thus far, the public stories as to the happenstance of the Murmansk handover are a nonsense and out-of-sequence timing a speciality. We learn that:

Checks with U.S. embassy officials indicated the Soviets have had at least two weeks to examine the space hardware and U.S. officials knew it, but their decision to return it at this time came as a surprise.

And this:

The Soviets did tell us about two weeks ago [mid August 1970] they had something of ours that had fallen from space and that it was in Murmansk, but they apparently decided without telling us to take the occasion of the Southwind visit to give the hardware back.

Stating publicly that the capsule had fallen from space fits with pressuring the US to conform to their plan, as per the scenario set out by B&B. And it’s interesting that the US officials chose, or felt obliged to use those exact words. And then this contradiction in timing:

A three-paragraph announcement by TASS Friday afternoon [September 4] gave the first inkling the Russians had any U.S. space gear… One embassy spokesman said U.S. officials had viewed the object Friday [September 4] and could not confirm it was an Apollo program item. But he added, “it was my impression from their report it is a whole piece of equipment” and not a fragment.

A game of blind man’s buff seems to be in progress. And the embassy spokesman inclined to confuse through his choice of language. ‘The first inkling’ to the public maybe, to the officials certainly not. Friday afternoon September 4 corresponds to the USCGC timetable for the Southwind’s official visit. And someone in the Soviet authority gave the data to TASS for release to the media on the very same day that the US officials viewed ‘the object’ in Murmansk.

All of which brings us to that article ostensibly emanating from TASS and published in the US military magazine Stars and Stripes (Vol. 29, No.141), Moscow (UPI) Russia Says Apollo Capsule Is Found, Will Be Returned Sunday September 6, 1970 (blog livejournal). Unpicking and rearranging its paragraphs reveals more discrepancies/nonsense. US officials have made the following statements:

The Soviets have plucked from the ocean a U.S. space capsule they describe as part of the Apollo Moonshot program and plan to return it to American officials this weekend, the official TASS news agency said.
Prior to the TASS announcement, the US embassy had announced [to whom and where?] the Southwind would stop at Murmansk from Saturday through Monday [September 5-7] to afford its crew “rest and relaxation.” It described goodwill aspects of the visit and nothing more. “The Southwind is going to Murmansk for the reasons stated, rest and relaxation, and I think it’s a pretty good guess the commanding officer of the ship doesn’t know anything about this,” he said.

Again from the evidence thus far, that’s a really poor guess! As this photo shows, the ship is without its gun and without the module it was on its way to Murmansk, the photo taken by one of the aircrew.

Navy Times
USCGC Southwind (aka WAGB280) without its 5-inch gun normally mounted on the foredeck en route to Murmansk, Russia – and shadowed by the Soviet icebreaker Vladimir Kavrayskiy.
Photo: Goldhammer/Navy Times.

On November 21, 1970, after the return of the cutter to its home port in Baltimore, the Navy Times published an article titled 'Around the Coast Guard: Icebreaker Makes Call at Murmansk' The accompanying photograph taken by one of the aircrew of the Southwind shows the ship minus its gun and without the Apollo module was clearly en route to Murmansk, Russia.14

The text included all the details of the war memorial ceremonies while in port, and includes the icebreaker’s post-Murmansk itinerary, while managing not to mention that Apollo module at all,

During the Murmansk visit Southwind was officially hosted by the Deputy Commander of Soviet Northern Fleet, Rear Admiral Garkusha and the mayor of the city, V.V. Sotnikov. Admiral Garkusha held a luncheon at his headquarters for Captain Cassidy and representatives of the American Embassy in Moscow… Southwind departed Murmansk to conduct additional oceanographic research operations in the Kara Sea off the Siberian coast…

No doubt that lunchtime meeting was the perfect opportunity to discuss the loading arrangements, since there’s the question of the supporting base for transporting the Apollo module. NASA documents stipulate a circumscribed triangle for the lighter boilerplate, while the full-weight Apollo CM required a robust square base – as can be seen in the photographs of the Apollo module being loaded onto the Southwind.

Back to TASS:

The Soviets said bluntly they intended to put the capsule aboard the U.S. icebreaker Southwind, which was putting into the port of Murmansk Saturday for three days.

The use of the word ‘blunt’ implies a political overtone and a western source rather than a Soviet release.

Apollo module quayside
Apollo module on the rain-soaked quay side (icebreaker Southwind in the background) prior to loading – note the bases on which it sits are much larger and more haphazard than the custom-made wooden pallet used for actual ocean transportation.

Another embassy spokesman added later that U.S. officials who had gone to Murmansk to greet the Southwind had seen the space equipment and taken serial numbers, which had been wired to Washington for identification… U.S. officials said subsequently they had asked Washington for permission to make the transfer.

More nonsense. Allegedly first knowing about this on Friday September 4 (contradicted by themselves stating elsewhere that they knew about the capsule in mid-August) we now have permission being sought from Washington less than 24 hours before the Southwind puts into port.

"We have told Washington," he said, "that we would like to put it on this ship, which is calling at Murmansk on other business, if it is what it appears to be and if the commanding officer approves."

How fortuitous that the Southwind’s gun emplacement was empty. From the photographic evidence presented earlier we saw that the Southwind had removed its gun before leaving port in June 1970. Here we can see that the support pallet used to hoist the module on board is somewhat smaller than the circumference of the Apollo CM/’boilerplate’. When lowered onto the pallet base already fitted between the rails of the Southwind’s gun mount, these two components match perfectly.

Loading the module
Loading the module on its pallet (smaller than the circumference of the capsule) onto
s foredeck with the prepared square base below.
Photo: Hungarian Ministry of Defence, Zrinyi Publishing House (ZPH).
ZPH is a section of the Zrinyi Mapping and Communications Service.15

The commanding officer, Captain Ed Cassidy must have approved, because,

[The] Southwind, after first sustaining a "bump" by a Soviet icebreaker while departing Murmansk for home, carried the capsule back to the U.S. and deposited it at Norfolk [on November 16] before ending her cruise at Baltimore on November 17, 1970.

Conclusion: The decision to put this module on the USCGC Southwind was not an opportunity seized by the USSR. It was pre-planned. Captain Cassidy and his ship were fully prepared for this special cargo.

Soviet icebreaker Vladimir Kavraysky – a Dobrynya Nikitich class oceanographic research vessel & icebreaker built in 1969. According to USCGC pilot Stephen Goldhammer who was present, the bump occurred prior to the Murmansk port call on August 22. Photo: US NAVY.

London Calling

Furthermore, the Southwind had another 72 days at sea in the Arctic and north Atlantic prior to arriving back at the USCGC yard, Curtis Bay. And talking of ports, Goldhammer states that on arrival at Murmansk the Southwind had docked at a coal pier – just forward of a ship from London.

Module load
USCGC Southwind docked in Murmansk forward of the ship from London.
Note small size of custom-made wooden pallet. Photo: crew member Mike Malone.

Remembering the ongoing Cold War period, one has to wonder whether that English ship was involved with those war memorial ceremonies, providing a home for the US officials waiting for the Southwind or just watching over proceedings. This is a permissible speculation given that the very next port of call for the Southwind was to Portsmouth Naval Docks in the Solent, on the southern English coast. As the Navy Times had reported,

Following this, a port visit to Portsmouth, England was scheduled. She will then cross the Atlantic Ocean to perform her final oceanographic survey of the season in the Baffin Bay area off Greenland.

USCGC Southwind’s itinerary around the Murmansk visit. Map published in the Baltimore Sun, November 22, 1970.16

That Portsmouth visit was scheduled for three days from September 27-30 but the Southwind actually arrived on the 24th – and stayed until the 30th. This is altogether strange – what was this visit for?

During port calls US Navy crews did three things:

    1. The crews typically work in shifts repairing and replenishing their ships. The Coast Guard cutters could be at sea for seven months without replenishing its stores,
      so that’s not a requirement.

    2. And then 'hit the beach' for off-time recreation. Portsmouth is hardly the most exotic
      port call in the world, and the crew had three days R&R in Murmansk.
    3. While in port, many deployed Navy ships and crews prepare themselves for additional deployed or underway at-sea operations to come. Given that it’s more logical to sail from
      Murmansk across to Baffin Bay, with another stopover in Tromso, Norway, if repairing and replenishing was truly an urgent requirement, that British port call must have been a very necessary stopover. It’s tempting to surmise that it had something to do with that module sitting on the ship's deck.

USCGC Southwind deck – removing the ice either in the Kara Sea, north of Murmansk or in Baffin Bay east of Greenland. Both options offered on the Southwind’s record. Note the four layers of the module's wooden support. The double-layered square pallet now mated to the double-layer support base mounted between the gun rails. Photo: Southwind Arctic East 70 scrapbook.

Crew CM
Some very cold Southwind crew members with the partially iced over Apollo module.
Photo: Southwind Arctic East 70 scrapbook.

Identity parade for the Apollo module nominated BP-1227

We have been talking of this capsule as being an Apollo boilerplate (BP-1227), yet there is reasonable doubt as to whether this is the real identity of the returned module. However, as this is the description retained by those researching and discussing the Murmansk capsule exchange, for the sake of clarity across the sources, we retain the number – but with a caveat. At least as far as the public are concerned, no one knows to which outfit BP-1227 was assigned or on what Apollo mission, because the relevant documentation is either missing or has been destroyed. Researcher Eddie Pugh also came up against walls of silence even after requesting information via the US FOI Act.17

Quite why this particular boilerplate should be so protected raises a legitimate observation, especially remembering the ‘accidental’ loss or destruction of other Apollo technology data.18 In the light of what we are discovering, was boilerplate BP-1227 simply the alias attributed to the Murmansk handover of the Apollo 13 CM?

USCGC Southwind with the Apollo module all squared off. Photo: crew member Michael Stronski.

All of which begs the question – what exactly is a boilerplate?

The term boilerplate originated from the use of boilerplate steel in the construction of prototypes used for testing engineering systems. NASA continued using the term even when its test capsules were made of other materials. A boilerplate command module was a non-functional Apollo CM, used for testing its systems before risking the lives of astronauts. Importantly, the boilerplates were nearly as complicated as the actual orbital command modules. Boilerplate models of the CM and service module (SM) were launched from Cape Kennedy (as Cape Canaveral was called from 1963-1973) to test the LES. (Should there be an incident during launch, the rocket’s Launch Escape System released the CM allowing the crew to splashdown within a few miles of the launch site.)

Boilerplate modules were used in swimming pools and on the ocean to train the splashdown recovery and rescue crews. The BP-1220/1228 series was 25% lighter than the actual command module. So exactly how accurate an exercise this BP would provide – when it came to coping with it on the surface of the ocean, and when simulating the hoisting of the capsule out of the water onto the deck of a ship is questionable.

A sailor involved in boilerplate-simulated exercises {SIMEX} has stated that they practiced for a week prior to the launch date. That was it. His photos show a boilerplate being approached by a whaleboat – no frogmen, no rubber dinghy and no flotation collar – and the Davits crane lifting the boilerplate onto the fantail of the ship does so in an unorthodox manner. But they are not alone, other SIMEX photos show the crew hauling a boilerplate onto the deck without flotation collars or any sort of protection for either the ship or the module.19

Eddie Pugh17 describes in detail the genesis and attributes of these boilerplates and states that the new BP-1227 was consigned to the NASA/DoD Contingency Task Force 140 (CTF140) which had overall organization of space flight recovery procedures in the Atlantic. CTF140 was based at Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, which is where the module would return to in the US. However, at the time of its collection at Murmansk, despite US officials having inspected this module and noted its identifying serial numbers prior to the handover, the US authorities didn't publicly claim it to be BP-1227,

An "experimental space capsule which was launched under the Apollo program and was found in the Bay of Biscay by Soviet fishermen will be transferred to U.S. representatives," it said.

It was only after the return of the ‘gift of fate’ (as one Soviet had called this item from the Apollo program) to the CTF140 NNY base that it was given the identity number of BP-1227.

And here’s the USCGC on the matter,

Also, the Soviets returned an Apollo training capsule (BP-1227) that they had recovered at sea. Apparently the U.S. Air Force Aerospace Rescue and Recovery personnel who [sic] were using the 9,500 pound capsule [4.75 tons] for training but lost it at sea near the Azores in February, 1969 [emphasis added].

Labelling the module as BP-1227 only used on the ocean, ostensibly removes the hint of it being an actual Apollo CM since no boilerplates were launched in 1969. The contradictions between these two statements make them both suspect. A launched module is found in the Bay of Biscay, while a drifting capsule has taken 18 months to be found – somewhere. The February 1969 date references the persistent rumour that the USS Algol had lost the boilerplate while practising for Apollo 9. Poorly attached, it is supposed to have ‘fallen off the deck of the ship in rough seas’. English readers will no doubt appreciate the similarity to the circumstances of ‘falling off the back of a lorry’ (truck), meaning to be in receipt of suspect or stolen goods.

But the USCGC entry has been unwittingly undermined by a NASA officer recording NASA's protocols for Apollo 9. Ron Epps, NASA's officer on board USS Algol in charge of the boilerplate in-house SIMEX recorded a personal log in which he details when the boilerplate was in the sea and when on the ship. Located at some 37.5º East of the Cape at the time of launch, he specifically notes that the BP was secured on board. There were no further SIMEX after the launch and the USS Algol returned to CTF140 at the Norfolk Navy Yard on March 22.

The US authorities, seemingly not keeping up with their own statements, have had another go at this idea, when they also described the Murmansk capsule as ‘a dummy spacecraft the Navy had lost two years ago'. This had occurred, apparently, ‘while practicing the pick-up of astronauts returning from the moon’ [emphasis added].

Time-wise this statement conveniently attributes the module to exercises for an Apollo mission in 1968 – the only flight scheduled with a lunar return that year was Apollo 8. Even supposing that this item had been used for Apollo CM lunar return recovery exercises, the contempt for accuracy is of itself interesting as this statement is technically incorrect.

From Florida, spacecraft launched eastwards over the Atlantic and splashdown in this ocean was reserved for spacecraft returning from parabolic or Earth orbital flights, as designed for the Mercury and Gemini programs. Where Apollo is concerned, lunar returns were always scheduled for Pacific Ocean splashdowns. Technical mishaps during the launch and staging of the Saturn V rocket components, imposed aborted lunar missions and emergency splashdowns.

The Atlantic was not used for ‘returning from the moon’ but for failed Apollo launches.

More recently, the US Department of the Navy seems to have forgotten its earlier allocation of a specific number to this lost piece of Apollo hardware. When responding to researcher Eddie Pugh’s enquiry17 the Navy contradicted the opinion of those experts in Murmansk – on consulting their archives it was 'determined that the capsule was lost at sea and recovered by the Soviets sometime in 1970' or whenever.

Need to Know is No-Go

We now have ended up with a multi-choice of year: 1968, 1969 and 1970. And an uncertain location for the lost – something. This new wave of vagueness ending up in 1970 might well infer that the Apollo module was not, after all, BP-1227 when found – even if it has become that in the interim. Has the timing of the Murmansk return occurring in the same year as Apollo 13 (ironically destined for its own dramatic odyssey after an accident on April 13) inspired the link between a lost module and BP-1227?

  • Was the news feed to the western media deliberately distorted?
  • Would any ‘distortion’ be necessary, if everything was ‘above board?’
  • Had things gone awry for Apollo 13 prior to lunar insertion, providing an opportunity the Soviet leaders had been waiting for since Apollo 8?
  • Or was the Murmansk event the final part of something even more elaborate, involving a ‘real’ CM morphing into a decoy boilerplate?

Red Herrings

This Murmansk episode raises another question: How did NASA’s Apollo CM even get to Murmansk? B&B have proposed the removal of the module from the sea involved the K-8 submarine, other decoy submarines and ships from the Soviet Northern Fleet. And the United States Coast Guard has categorically stated on its website (post 1970 obviously) that not only was the lost capsule BP-1227 but also ...it was recovered by a Soviet fishing trawler.

From a purely political point of view, no ordinary fishing trawler would have considered netting, or even been able to recover a NASA-marked item – much less take it up to Murmansk, without full permission from Moscow. However, in the Soviet era the USSR Northern Fleet was accompanied by radio reconnaissance ships. These had very high technical specs, hidden under the hull design of a typical fishing boat, and their military crew were equally disguised in fishermen’s clothing. Thus it has been suggested that this was the true function of the fishing trawler – the Apatit.

The Apatit, the fishing trawler attributed to finding ‘the lost CM'.

In contrast to that September 1970 TASS article released in the US, and not in the Soviet Union, details of this very fishy story emerged relatively recently in the Russian press. Published in three different Murmansk newspapers in 2007, reprinted in 2014 and again in 2015, the narrative from the Apatit’s Captain Shankov and its Chief Engineer Andreev, is inconsistent, contradictory and technically impossible.

Andreev asserted that the capsule was discovered "off the coast of Spain near Gibraltar" in the Mediterranean! Captain Shankov (now deceased) had stated that he knew nothing about any NASA capsule or boilerplate. In counterpoint, he had also alleged that he was relieved to have been able to lift the capsule out of the sea without mishap, since he didn’t know its weight and the bow deck crane would only lift 3 tons.

His account does not in any way compute: an Apollo boilerplate weighed around 4.75 tons and the actual Apollo CM is even heavier at around 5.94 tons.

lifting CM from ocean

Lifting a CM from the Pacific Ocean – note the heavy lifting gear required for its extraction.

In contrast to the Apatit Chief Engineer’s 2007 input, the 1970 fishing trawler anecdote described the Apollo command module as being found by in the Bay of Biscay, and that for over two years, other vessels had also reported its presence as being a danger to navigation. Not least this puts that loss back to 1967! The Americans assert that they had followed up on all these reports and found nothing. Nor would they, because Ron Epps, the NASA officer on the USS Algol, has logged that the boilerplate was only put into the water under good weather conditions and is always recovered afterwards. So whatever the year, this 'lost boilerplate story' simply doesn’t work.20

Which is rather bad luck if that’s what NASA & Co. want us all to think.

Furthermore, leaving a boilerplate capsule to float around the Atlantic for months on end infers that it was of no technical value to the Soviets or anyone else, and if that were the case, the Southwind would not be bothering to go and collect it. As for an authentic Apollo CM, the most cursory look at the protocols set out for the recovery of an actual Apollo module show that had an Apollo CM splashed down – and then drifted away from any rescue operation (its shape gave it a very high drift rate) – there was the ability to evaluate how far and in which direction it had gone, or indeed where it had sunk. And thus retrieve it. The very fact that this module was carefully returned to the US rather infers that it was of high value and the case for it being the actual Apollo 13 CM, aborted during launch and orbital insertion is greatly strengthened.

Atlantic boundaries
Sea boundaries of the Eastern Atlantic and Bay of Biscay limits defined by France and Spain.

Covering 223,000sq km/ 86,000sq miles of the Atlantic, with a maximum depth of 4,735m/15,535ft, this bay is defined to the north by the French port of Brest (on the Brittany peninsula) and to the south by the northern coast of Spain. Its western boundary is defined by Cabo Ortegal at longitude 7.86º. As can be seen from the map, the Bay of Biscay itself does not support the depths of sinking required by the narrative attached to a K-8 submarine (as set out by B&B) and should those officials citing the location of the K-8 sub sinking not know or wish to state a precise area or location for these events, then the sunken submarine stories, along with the trawler Apatit narrative all sound like misdirection.17,21

Given that when making statements intended to confuse or mislead, it is best to stick as close as possible to the truth, ‘finding nothing’ rather infers that the location of the lost module was anywhere but within the nautical and geophysical boundaries of the Bay of Biscay. And the most remarkable thing about the Bay of Biscay is that it is well off the flight path of an Apollo CM having 'fallen from space' as the Soviets maintained.

Backs to the Future

Why has it been considered necessary to bring up this involvement of the trawler Apatit with the recuperation of an Apollo module so many years after the event? Emerging in the Russian media at a time when more and more people were becoming interested in the Murmansk handover saga. It’s also asserted that the Apatit took the module back to its home port of Murmansk in June 1970 – in that we are ‘reminded’ of two facts: the departure month of the Southwind from the US Coast Guard Yard in Curtis Bay, Baltimore and the status of the US Coast Guard as a member of the US Intelligence Community.

This is possibly unsurprising, since the Apatit story is reading more and more like a re-run of the way the authorities deal with difficult problems which won’t go away from the public consciousness, no matter how hard they try – such as the 1947 Roswell UFO event.21 The agencies have produced several totally different explanations over the decades, all of them inconsistent, contradictory and technically impossible.

And so it is with this trawler Apatit/Apollo CM saga. Come to think of it, we are in the same territory here: explaining away an alleged crashed space vehicle.

However, as the stories about this lost module put out by both the US and the USSR do not stack up, and since it is a law of the sea that military vessels (and the Apollo CM would come under that designation) cannot be salvaged by anyone other than its owners, the Apatit fantasy might well have been concocted to cover for the USSR’s covert operation of snatching the module (as set out by B&B).

Perhaps. Yet the data so far rather infers some compliance along the way from various agencies in the west and the Murmansk module could even have been part of a covert but mutual exchange program. That just like the Deep Freeze 69/Arctic East 70 copycat modes, this Apatit segment of the Lost Apollo Module Saga has been adapted from another Cold War event as a cover for any such compliance. This hypothesis is reinforced by the fact that just such an operation involving a ‘civilian’ ship carrying out a covert military project under the very noses of the unaware public took place over the same time period attributed by the authorities to this Apollo module incident. And there are clues as to the connection between these two projects.


The story goes that in April 1968 the Soviets were seen searching – unsuccessfully – for their missing K-129 nuclear submarine which had sunk near the international dateline in the Pacific Ocean. By July the US had decided to attempt a covert salvage. Early on, the top secret aspects of the project were encased in a shell of need-to-know secrecy under the code name Jennifer. By 1970 the US engineers had designed a customised ‘civilian’ ship called the Hughes Glomar Explorer.22 Together with its attendant barge and hidden lifting cradle, the whole build would take another four years to come to fruition. During which time Project JENNIFER was ring-fenced with an outer security shell: Project AZORIAN became the media name for this covert CIA salvaging of a submarine that didn’t belong to them.23

Why did this Pacific project make such an obvious link to the Atlantic islands of the Azores, around which the Saturn V hardware would splashdown overtly and where the Soviets would covertly remove an Apollo module?

As Orion


The Constellation of Orion’s three belt stars form part of the letter ‘A’ for Apollo, the Sun god. Constellation and Orion are still used throughout NASA’s space program to this day.

Azorian sounds like: As Orion. In a clever parody of ‘as above, so below’, we have ‘as with the A-Orion project, as with the Azores project’. Covertly searching in the Pacific for the sunken wreckage of a nuclear submarine belonging to ‘the other side’ mirroring the covert removal from the Atlantic around the Azores the result of the failed launch of an Apollo capsule ‘belonging to the other side’. Certainly the timing makes some interesting space-time connections.

Project AZORIAN was up and running 15 days before the July 16, 1969 Apollo 11 launch, but it took until October 1970 to establish the engineering plans. One wonders if, as a result of the April 1970 Apollo 13 module grab and the leverage aims of the USSR, as set out by B&B resulting in the Murmansk handover, whether the planning for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) included agreements on the K-129 salvage.

It would explain the two shells of security, because for those involved in actually building and pulling off the project and not read into Jennifer, any convert agreements between the US and the USSR would have to be very secret indeed. After all, these two nations were allegedly bitter enemies engaged in a Cold War.

Lages Field
Lajes Field, US base of the P-3 Orion aircraft on Terceira Island in the Azores.

What goes up might come down

It is suggested by B&B that the USSR was loitering around the Atlantic under the flight path of the Apollo 13 launch during the weekend of Friday 10 to Sunday April 12, 1970 intent on snaffling the Apollo 13 CM should it fail to achieve earth orbit.

Which in their opinion was highly likely.

In the case of an accident during the launch out across the Atlantic, NASA had specific rescue and recovery procedures. Ships were located in zones considered likely to be splashdown places for various parts of the launch hardware. For example during Apollo 9 (an Earth orbital mission) Ron Epp on the USS Algol records seeing surface contact 12 minutes after launch and 50 miles from the ship. He was located two and a half hours from the Cape, which put him in sector Oscar, 37.5º West of GMT monitoring sector C [see maps below].

Time zones
Apollo 9 USS Algol 37.5ºW of GMT and around 32ºN. The Azores are 37.41ºW but much higher up the globe at 25.67º and are in time zone November during the winter and Zulu during daylight saving time.

Even prior to Apollo, whether purely theoretical or entirely practical, both the USSR and the US had to consider the possibility of launch failure. Ever since the days of Mercury, NASA had developed a strategy which has relevance for this lost Apollo CM and the Soviet K-8 story. According to the recovery strategy for NASA Mercury and Gemini launches from Florida, the Atlantic was divided into five main Launch Abort Areas (LABs), based on the five points in a launch where the chances of a mishap were the greatest, and the crew could bail out relatively safely. In the western Atlantic A was the primary, and B the secondary LAB areas, each of which had dedicated recovery ship during the Mercury and Gemini missions.

In the eastern Atlantic, the sectors marked C, D & E were not expected to require any recovery ships at all, since the chances of a return from space in that zone was considered low. Of these five distinct locations where it would be possible to abort a mission only LAB areas A, B and C were automated. LAB area splashdowns in D and E had to be triggered from the CM by the crew.

Atlantic Splasdown
NASA Atlantic flight path – all sectors
Mapping of ABCDE areas for Mercury & Gemini – abort rules retained for Apollo.
60ºW is the Atlantic Standard Time (AST) meridian. USS Algol 37.5ºW GMT.

WESTLANT (west Atlantic) splashdown areas for spacecraft returning from Earth orbital flights: Mercury, Gemini & Apollo 7 and 9. Central Intelligence Agency Fact Book.

When it came to Apollo things were managed a little differently. The rescue and recovery areas were defined on a larger scale. If the primary landing area was around the launch location in the WESTLANT, the secondary landing area was in the Pacific, where the lunar returning module would splashdown. The world was then divided into four Contingency Sectors A, B, C & D. The rescue manual for Apollo lunar flights states that any problems that did occur in these four large Contingency Sectors A, B, C, or D would be managed by aircraft surveillance, and if necessary the co-opting of a ship of opportunity. Sector A, which concerns this Apollo CM, covered the entirety of the Atlantic Ocean from Cape Kennedy 80ºW through to 20ºE of GMT/UCT [see Landing Areas here].24

However, on studying the page defining the Apollo procedures one realises that the original launch abort areas defined for Mercury and Gemini are still extant, but are now covered by Contingency Sector C. What all this alphabetic jiggery-pokery means is that in practice any reference mentioning these LAB areas or Contingency Sectors by letter alone could mean different things to different people, depending on their need to know and point of reference. It also means that those D and E sectors of the Atlantic were available for a discreet splashdown out of sight and out of mind, while under the total control of NASA, the USS Vanguard acting as the communications hub. Therefore a lunar mission that failed and aborted, or was deliberately aborted, could be discreetly managed with little public awareness.

Splashdown zones
NASA Atlantic flight path splashdown areas D and E.

And it’s unsurprising that the Atlantic abort rules established during Mercury and Gemini programs held for Apollo during the initial staging phases above the Atlantic Ocean – Apollo 6 having adequately demonstrated that the Saturn V was no guarantee that the Apollo SM/CM combo would achieve the required orbit.25 However, as far as the public was concerned, the Pacific was the designated splashdown ocean for Apollo, due to the higher velocity returns from space (or less charitably, because it was necessary to disassociate an Earth orbit return from a lunar return).

Confusing? Yes. It’s meant to be. This is about saving the face of Apollo, thereby ensuring that the entire planetary space program stays up and running. As has been established by historians, Apollo was the cover for the US CORONA satellite program.26 Whether Project CORONA was linked to the New Mexico location associated with the 1947 Roswell UFO incident is anyone’s guess. Certainly, with Jodrell Bank acting as the UK go-between, the US & USSR were discussing communication satellites very early on.

The Ship of Opportunity

Ore carrier Clyde Ore in 1965 – Navios insignia on funnel and prow.

A ‘ship of opportunity’ (SOOP) is described in NASA rescue and recovery procedures as the nearest passing ship which was able to get to the location and ascertain the extent of the problem. Whether that SOOP was required to be of a ‘friendly’ nation is not stated,26 but it infers a request for help from anything sailing near enough to get to the location of the downed spacecraft. In practice that might not be such a casual affair. Which is where the Clyde Ore enters the story.

The encounter with the Clyde Ore has been threaded into the K-8 storyline and by extension into the return of the Apollo module from Murmansk. Researchers B&B consider it to be another red herring. But why would it be necessary to insert such a story into the narrative? The unfriendly reception it got from the crew of the K-8 sub implies that this arrival of the Clyde Ore was a nuisance, turning up just when it wasn’t wanted. And there are plenty of reasons why the K-8 crew would have been unwelcoming towards it.

However, if the Apollo launch suffered a mishap in Atlantic areas D and E, and NASA, as stated in its rescue and recovery procedures called upon a ship of opportunity, this could be born out by the fact that the Clyde Ore apparently contacted the US authorities, because shortly after its departure, P-3 Orion spy planes were flying over the K-8 location. Less charitably, the SOOP might also be a prearranged vessel ready to pick up a CM incapable under any circumstance of actually attaining lunar trajectory.27

In which case, had the Soviet K-8 submarine been in place first, such a meeting would be rather awkward.

Apollo abort modes

A flight malfunction prior to orbital insertion would have resulted in a mode II or III abort into the Atlantic. If the Clyde Ore was the designated SOOP and this was a real accident, then the Captain might know it was a downed CM and there was the question of removing the crew. And then the witness statements of the K-8 stating that the Clyde Ore sailed once around the boat, is commensurate with having a good look to see where the CM might be.

Or verifying that everything was proceeding as agreed – if this encounter was a part of a guaranteed mode III abort for a pre-arranged exchange of equipment (without anyone being the wiser). Then all the K-8 witness statements stating that this SOOP was sent packing by an armed crew might be window dressing to cover for this project.

The refusal of the K-8 to accept help from the Clyde Ore surely indicates that, a) the boat was not in trouble, and b) it was not intending to take off its crew. An ‘accident’ on board the K-8, however minimal, was a good reason for hanging around on the surface on the Friday without raising too many questions, while waiting for the CM launch on the Saturday. This view is not shared by authors B&B, and indeed it all depends on where exactly everyone was, and when exactly they were there.

These facts are difficult to come by.

Time, time and time again

The clues to this story might lie in the timing of events. There is much ado made of the fact that this ship was supposed to be a Canadian vessel and that it arrived promptly at 14:15 on Saturday 11. Albeit that this is within two minutes of the Florida EST of the Apollo launch, there is a better fit for this timing. In the Atlantic Ocean 60ºW longitude, in the centre of the nautical and NATO designated time zone, Quebec has been designated as Atlantic Standard Time and acts as ‘the prime meridian of the Atlantic Ocean’. Relating this time of 14:15 to the AST meridian would put the Clyde Ore (and therefore the K-8) into the November time zone – most appropriate for a meeting with a NATO designated November-class submarine. And crucially near to the D zone, the first of the manually-aborted splashdown areas for a CM in trouble just prior to entering Earth orbit.

Sea Shells

The sourcing of the AST on the ‘Quebec meridian’ might explain a lot of the Canadian associations with the identity of the Clyde Ore, the spelling of its name and its ownership has been much disputed in all the accounts of this incident.28 Both might be dealt with at the same time, when its known that its 1970 owner, the US Polaris Shipping Company is notable by its absence from the available listings of US shipping companies – defunct or otherwise. Here we have a potentially interesting problem as the Clyde Ore’s owner is indeed Navios, not ‘Polaris’.


The Navios Corporation is a Liberian company, wholly owned by Navigen Corporation, also a Liberian company, which in turn, is wholly owned by the United States Steel Corporation (USSC). But since it is registered in the Bahamas (which is British territory) and flying a Liberian flag, the Pentagon spokesman commenting to the media on the K-8 incident was perhaps disingenuous when he emphasized the fact that US ships were not involved.29

However, the confusion around this ship and the American Polaris Shipping Company might be about something else entirely. The US-UK Polaris project did indeed involve shipping – of the nuclear submarine type – and Polaris was located around the Firth of Clyde, in western Scotland. If this reference to Polaris is neither to the Pole Star nor to the ‘owner’ of this ship, but the arrival of a submarine on site, looking for the Apollo CM, or depending on the agenda, overseeing the arrangements for its transfer and the safe extraction of the astronauts, then the Polaris Shipping Company instead implies that UK/US connection. And that hypothesis would certainly take care of all those rumours of a UK Royal Navy involvement in this lost Apollo CM incident.30

  • Was the Clyde Ore narration a cover story for a visit to the K-8 by a British submarine?
  • Does it also link with the later visit of the USCGC Southwind to the Royal Navy Docks in Portsmouth, UK?
  • In 1975, the very same year the AST project was finally achieved – its projected link-up initially intended to take place over the UK – the Clyde Ore was renamed Garden Saturn. Does that ceremony, with its silent nods to the US, the UK and the USSR have any bearing on the insertion of this particular ship into the confusion surrounding the Apollo 13 CM?
  • Does the AST of the Apollo-Soyuz Test project really stand for the Atlantic Standard Time project – itself a cover for the Apollo CM exchange?
  • And who remembers that in 1970, the UK was running an experiment in living on Daylight Saving Time all the year round?
  • Thereby putting the British Standard Meridian into Alpha zone 15º to the East. And that’s the zone over which the ASTP finally made its link-up in orbit.

The British Daylight Saving (BDS) trial was called the British Summer Time (BST) experiment thereby confusing it with British Standard Time, which is also the reference Prime Meridian of the planet: GMT/UTC. Technically it would not affect the calculations of a ship navigating with reference to GMT, but the deliberate choice of the same initials BST instead of the normal BDT for this change was clearly intended to conflate these two zones in the minds of the public at least, and was noted as such by members of the House of Commons.31

The British government, determined to get this BST bill passed, made strong representation for it in parliament and in the face of vociferous opposition, whipped it through parliament in December 1968. It was adopted for an intended period of five years from March 1969 and was extremely unpopular with most of the public from the very start. At the end of 1970 another parliamentary discussion took place and this time, the government said nothing and left it to the politicians to decide! Parliament voted to stop the experiment. The bill was annulled. All of which infers that whatever was intended to be achieved by confusing the time reference points had been achieved.32

  • Were these time shifts intended to help build the confusion around the where and the when of the 1969-1970 Apollo lunar missions?

Very likely, and Apollo 13 was done and dusted.

Timed Out

Returning to the events of Apollo 13 and our ‘Murmansk’ capsule, so it was that on Friday April 10, 1970 – the day before the Apollo 13 launch – the Soviet K-8 had been seen on the surface in the north Atlantic. The boat was attended by two Soviets vessels, and if there were already problems of a fire on board as is suggested by the accounts of various witnesses, then these two ships certainly had both the means to evacuate the crew, and signal the Soviet authorities in order to resolve the issue. Yet none of this happened, so one must assume that all was well up to that point.

The fact that the K-8 was seen ‘apparently in difficulty’ out in the Atlantic during the same weekend that the Apollo launch took place, certainly supports the B&B theory that Soviet submarines were associated with the Apollo 13 launch and interface with the Apollo module,. But other than the flight path of the Apollo CM, they are unable to ascertain the precise area of the Atlantic, because aerial photographs of a small area of ocean do not fix the location, and briefings from the Pentagon to the US media might not be entirely accurate.

If there was another covert operation taking place between the two space nations, then there were several scenarios:

  1. The US and the USSR were complicit in keeping the impossibility of a crew reaching the Moon and safely returning under wraps – each for their own perceived socio/politico/economic advantages.
  2. For the sake of future endeavours such as the ASTP, it was necessary to transfer an Apollo CM to the USSR without it being seen to be done during the Apollo 'race to the Moon' program.
  3. Fuelled by a perceived fear of extra-terrestrial intervention, and the recognised limitations of space technology in both countries, there was the concerted effort to organise a competent satellite and missile defence system without alerting the public as to the real reason for its existence and their fears. Hence the climate of Cold War confrontation ultimately aided the funding and pursuance of these covert space activities.33

The discussions over US/USSR space collaboration were focused in the public’s mind by John F. Kennedy's 1963 speech to the UN General Assembly advocating cooperation with the USSR in space:

Finally, in a field where the United States and the Soviet Union have a special capacity – in the field of space – there is room for new cooperation, for further joint efforts in the regulation and exploration of space. I include among these possibilities a joint expedition to the Moon. Space offers no problems of sovereignty; by resolution of this Assembly, the members of the United Nations have foresworn any claim to territorial rights in outer space or on celestial bodies, and declared that international law and the United Nations Charter will apply.

Why, therefore, should man's first flight to the Moon be a matter of national competition? Why should the United States and the Soviet Union, in preparing for such expeditions, become involved in immense duplications of research, construction, and expenditure? Surely we should explore whether the scientists and astronauts of our two countries – indeed of all the world – cannot work together in the conquest of space, sending some day in this decade to the Moon not the representatives of a single nation, but the representatives of all of our countries.34 Source

However, this speech was in reality the tip of the iceberg. And the responses in the US at least, showed that those thinking of US/USSR in Cold War terms of competition and opposition – most of the US political establishments, and the armed forces – would have found such collaboration unacceptable.

The general public would be guided by the media. In the case of the ‘Apollo 13 weekend’ discussed here and by B&B, the media obtained its news from the Pentagon and NASA. And the timing of the US media announcements give pause for thought. The Pentagon releases covering the weekend of April 10, 11, 12 focused on the ‘K-8 in trouble and perhaps sinking’ were released to the US media on the very day of the official Apollo 13 accident – April 13, 1970.


The Apollo 13 ‘might run out of oxygen’ accident held more than a passing resemblance to Martin Caidin’s 1964 novel Marooned. Caidin, a pilot and expert in aeronautics, with a considerable interest in cyborg technology, used fiction to portray the effects of future technological advances on the social and political landscape. So it’s interesting that on May 11-12, 1970, a month to the day after the Apollo 13 launch, Dr. Philip Handler, President of the US National Academy of Sciences, was in the Soviet Union discussing reasons for collaborating in space. Here’s the NASA history of the ASTP on the subject:

Before he had an opportunity to talk with the Soviets, Handler saw a movie that influenced his thinking concerning manned space flight. “In the early spring of 1970 … I saw a special showing of the film Marooned in which … an American astronaut is marooned in orbit, unable to return to earth, and has a relatively limited oxygen supply remaining. While preparations are made on earth for rescue by NASA, a Soviet spacecraft is caused to change its course so as to closely approach the helpless American craft. A Soviet cosmonaut then undertakes a space walk and delivers some tanks of oxygen to the marooned American permitting him to survive until the American rescue is possible.”34

And here is the analog of the Marooned scenario taking place on Earth during the early spring of 1970:

An American astronaut is marooned in the Atlantic, unable to return to Houston, until the end of his mission. While preparations are made for rescue by a NASA ship of opportunity, a Soviet submarine is ordered to change its course so as to closely approach the downed Apollo CM. Soviet divers then undertake a swim and collect the marooned capsule permitting it to survive until the American is rescued by its own sub. And the module return by the USCGC Southwind is made possible.

Mind Games

The film Marooned was released in November 1969, so this ‘special showing’ sounds like a private viewing especially for Dr. Handler prior to his departure for Moscow. It is on record that this film was on his mind during his preparative talks with NASA officials prior to leaving for Moscow.

Given that the space rescue exercise was always being a part of the original plan set out by Wernher von Braun to get human beings from Earth to Mars,35 one is tempted to see Marooned (the 1964 book and the 1969 film) as the means of influencing the thoughts of the space warriors in the United States and Soviet Union relative to manned space flight activities in low-Earth Orbit. In just the same way that the 1964 genesis of the April 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey was intended to influence the thoughts of the general public in terms of ET interaction with Earth and our solar system.

The naming of the Apollo 13 CM as Odyssey neatly linked the two sides of this same coin, as did NASA administrator Thomas Paine’s note to Arthur C Clarke. Scribbled on the cover of the Apollo 13 Accident Report – it read ‘just as you always said it would be, Arthur’.36

Dr. Handler says that he referred in detail to the film Marooned to demonstrate the issues he was talking about to the Soviet scientists. And NASA historians like to think of these talks as contributing to the final collaborative outcome: the ASTP. However, one of the main sticking points for a practical collaboration between the two space agencies was the mating of two different systems. As the US engineers noted, it was hard enough to get their own US bits and pieces to work together. Well, at least they managed to sort out those matching pallet elements for the Murmansk handover.

Which takes us neatly back to April 1970 and that Apollo weekend. Many of the US newspapers only published the Pentagon press releases about the K-8 on April 14. Appearing the day after the ‘Houston we have a problem’ the Apollo blow-out no doubt lessened its impact. If the K-8 had anything to do with the Apollo 13 CM from a certain point of view, the Pentagon release of this information to the US media on Monday April 13 covertly recognised that connection. Perhaps it was a discreet acknowledgment of ‘mission accomplished’. After all, it is well known that various organisations unwilling to be seen publicly exchanging information through conventional channels use the media to ‘pass messages’.37

Did that mission involve the disappearance of an Apollo CM, and the subsequent reappearance of ‘a boilerplate’?

Such a fantastic hypothesis would certainly explain all the discrepancies found in the official accounts of the K-8 accident and the Murmansk handover. These also suggest that in 1970 obtaining the downed Apollo 13 CM was carried out with the covert connivance and support of the United States.38

Considering that the Saturn V was unreliable during launch and lacked the power to reach the Moon, and considering that the CMs lacked the radiation protection required for travel to the Moon and the inability to achieve the required skip re-entry for a manned lunar return trajectory, from a technical point of view this means the crew of any Apollo mission were either condemned not to board the craft at all (which is the firm opinion of many, including B&B) or hope for a safe departure, and spend the allotted mission’s time span remaining in Earth orbit.

Examples of an Apollo module aboard a Douglas C-133 Cargomaster.

Perhaps the Odyssey accident wasn’t the only one that was scripted. But whether crewed or not, in order to protect the program, any mission that truly failed such as with Apollo 13, would require the CM to be discretely retrieved. The Mercury abort areas D & E in the eastern Atlantic offered the best choice. Later, an option would be to use a large cargo aircraft to release the crew in the module – appropriately ‘cooked’ to look right – over the designated landing spot far away in the Pacific.

Soviet rocket personnel, especially engineers, knowing the problems that the Saturn V was experiencing with its lack of thrust and that its fuel pumps caused unwelcome instability – the ‘Pogo’ effect. They also knew that following the Apollo 6 disaster those Pogo oscillations had been mitigated but not solved. Therefore, there was every reason to lurk around area E at the time of the Apollo 13 launch. From where it was a quick underwater sprint to wherever the Apollo 13 CM came down.

The timings work equally well for each scenario: the ‘nuclear accident’; the lost boilerplate in the Atlantic; the agreed exchange of the Apollo CM for political and scientific reasons, or even the entire Apollo mission scenario. Ships that come and go; the mysterious Clyde Ore, ship or submarine; the K-8 and its crew never truly accounted for, and the whole story of the Apollo capsule added to as the years go by. The emergence of ‘witnesses’ from ships attributed to this story, the trawler Apatit and the Avior/Hadjii Dimitri, with their conflicting data, all contribute to deflecting any serious enquiry as to the true fate of Apollo 13 and the Murmansk module.39

No wonder everything is confusing, but there is one way forward, and that is to see what happened to this module after April 1970.

Space Treats

Whether the Apollo module was used as a political ploy or deemed essential to the process of preserve the Apollo program, and/or to foster the ability of space travel in the future – it is important to remember that the Soviet scientists asserted all along that the module they had recovered showed all the indications of it having fallen from space. In other words, the Apollo CM demonstrated the signs of having re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere.

In terms of the space treaty act, space hardware found by one nation would only be returned to the owner at its request.40 For that to happen of course the owner had to know that the object had been found. If this Apollo module was a complicit snaffle of the Apollo 13 CM, or if the Soviets had ‘got there first’ that would not happen. We have already seen how a boilerplate of itself was not of high value to the Americans. So the hush-hush methods surrounding this Murmansk saga indicate that this item was indeed something special. The only way to get the module back to the States officially would be to trigger the ability for the US to send the Southwind.

And the only way to get the real Apollo 13 CM back home under the noses of the public would be to disguise it as a boilerplate.

Apollo module on the quayside – the positioning of the NASA acronym is located too high over the hatch aperture, and the letter 'S' in particular is distorted.

Therefore it is likely that during its five-month vacation in the USSR, the CM’s exterior was modified: losing any signs of atmospheric re-entry, all apertures, extraneous accoutrements and sealing the hatch would ensure the safe return of the module to the US, with no questions asked by those not in the know.

The confusing statements and the uncertainty of the authorities as to what exactly this object actually was sitting on the quay at Murmansk were all intended to reinforce the whole charade. 'BP-1227' was born.

Significantly BP-1227 was different from all the other boilerplates. Normally the BPs featured three NASA acronyms, one across the hatch, and the other two around the sides. This particular BP had a single NASA placed far too high up the body of the capsule. The cross bar of the N is incorrect relative to the N used on other boilerplates, and the S does not align correctly.

Naming the Day

These observations and this scenario tie together the disparate accounts of this event and makes sense of hitherto incomprehensible details and complements the hypothesis of authors B&B. That then should be the end of our story. But no, it isn’t. The journey home of this Apollo 13 CM/BP-1227, and its final resting place in the Van Andel Museum is the coda, and it confirms the marriage of minds that went into the success of this operation. And as always, it’s all in the timing.

The Murmansk episode was in line with NASA’s policy of mingling ancient history, science-fiction and astronomy with space travel as noted by others – and the naming of the Apollo 13 CM as Odyssey is a case in point. During this period, the US and the USSR were equally well matched in this regard. And if collecting the Apollo CM was a part of a covert operation between these two space-faring nations, with a hidden ceremonial meaning, it could not have been better stage managed or celebrated.

Appropriately enough for a ‘goodwill visit’, the USCGC Southwind arrived at Murmansk on a Friday, a day generally attributed to Venus, the goddess of female sexuality, and for some cultures a goddess of war. The open days were on the god Saturn’s day, associated with ‘right timing’ and on the Sun’s day, attributed to the god Apollo. So naturally, that was the day when the handover of the Apollo CM took place. The ship departed late on Monday the 7th, the day allocated to the Moon, considered as god or goddess, according to the culture. This is all very apposite to the matters in hand. Yet there is even more.

Luna 16
Soviet Luna 16 – the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample of lunar soil to Earth.

Six days later, on the Saturn day of September 12, Luna 16 launched for the Moon, intent on getting a sample of lunar soil. On the Moon’s surface the Luna module stood 13ft high and within a circle 13ft in diameter – Although the Russians do not use the imperial system, this is an interesting number when related to the 13 Moon lunar cycles and Apollo 13, the only Apollo space mission of 1970. Luna 16 then launched from the Moon on September 21, again a Moon day, and the Autumn equinox to boot, carrying the first soil sample on its automated return.

It would land on September 24, 1970. Thor’s day, Thursday. In the English language this day is the only one to take the name of a Norse god, rather than Zeus or Jupiter from the Greek and Roman pantheons respectively.

On that very same day, the Southwind, with its precious cargo, made land at Portsmouth Docks on the Southern coast of the UK where, as already noted, it would remain for a week, with no reasons given. This capsule had apparent anomalies between the number of rivets around its hatch and those present on others in this series,41 thereby reinforcing the unsurprising notion that the hatch had been opened/tampered with. And as it has been asserted that it's likely the Soviet’s ‘had unsealed the hatch to look inside’42 the temptation is to ask if the British perhaps unsealed the hatch to see what the Soviets might have left in the interior, because this ‘boilerplate’ would have made the most perfect diplomatic pouch.

Finally, to round off this planetary tour, on November 16 USCGC Southwind would dock at Norfolk Navy Yard on the same day it had departed Murmansk – a Monday. Delivering the module and collecting its gun Southwind would return to Baltimore on November 17. The ‘unique’ voyage over. Mission accomplished.

Wizards of Odyssey

It could be that the Southwind itinerary not only encoded a covert memorial to the K-8, but also to the whole operation. After all, the K-8 accident scenario played out over a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday and on the very same weekend that Apollo 13 launched. The CM/boilerplate’s final resting place would seem to support this thought.

As would the location of the ‘official’ Apollo 13 module, which was originally housed at the KSC alongside the Soyuz capsule used for the ASTP. The Smithsonian then requested one of these items and the ‘failure’ as the Apollo 13 mission was considered – was lent to the French. While the hatch of this capsule was displayed at the US Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas. Then all three components, the module, its hatch and a boilerplate (1102A not 1227) were brought together at the Cosmosphere Spaceworks and restored – in full view of the public. All the elements of the story present and correct, except for BP-1227.43

Where did it go?

Having been ‘restored’ at the CTF140 facility in Norfolk Virginia, BP-1227 was eventually loaned to The Van Andel Museum Center, Michigan.44 In homage to all those uncertain US officials back in Murmansk, it is clearly labelled Apollo. However, the inclusion of its apex covering renders it quite unlike the CM the public are familiar with from all the Apollo photographs, thus making it different – a boilerplate. Its location is odd. The grounds have been designed to balance with the façade of the museum and the large bell placed in the centre of the path. The juxtaposition of the Apollo CM on the lawn has disrupted this harmony. There is plenty of ground the other side of the museum where it would have looked better, and at just under 13 feet it could no doubt have fitted somewhere inside the museum so one must presume this spot was special. And the only thing near that spot is that bell.

Museum Center
BP-1227 at the Pearl Street entryway of the Van Andel Museum Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA.

Contemplating this set up one is immediately reminded of the famous Liberty Bell until one realizes that this is a fire bell. And now the connections multiply. Liberty Bell 7 was the name of the 1961 Mercury capsule which blew its hatch cover prematurely, flooding the interior of the capsule and nearly drowning its astronaut, Gus Grissom.

The capsule sank, Grissom was saved just in time.45

The K-8 ‘sank’ and we suggest that at some point during the transfer from the Atlantic to Murmansk, the Apollo 13 CM was deliberately retained underwater. Grissom famously hung a lemon on his 1967 Apollo module while wondering how it would be possible to travel to the Moon if the communications systems didn’t work even between the test pad and mission control. During a CM test on the launch pad Virgil ‘Gus’ Grissom, along with Ed White and Roger Chaffee, died in a fire inside the module. Their module was retroactively named Apollo 1. The K-8 was said to have suffered from fire damage. The Van Andel Museum Center has a Planetarium dedicated to Chaffee, a citizen of Grand Rapids. The BP-1227 is dedicated to no one from the space world – instead it houses a time capsule due to be opened at the US tricentennial celebrations of 2076.

The timing may indeed be a teaser, but it is asserted publicly that the time capsule contains details of Grand Rapidian events made by the children of the town. This has not stopped many from making the link between a time capsule and an Apollo capsule – in that the contents refer to some aspect of space exploration, whether to do with Apollo, Mars or ET.

And there does seem to be a link, if more were needed, to the shared program of Mars exploration and ET theories. The bicentennial year of 1976 saw the discovery of Cydonia on Mars. Furthermore, the original Liberty Bell was housed in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Pennsylvania. And Pennsylvania Avenue connects the decision makers on the hill to the President in the White House. While NASA’s disparate office buildings in Washington have all been relocated to new headquarters at 2 Independence Square. We are back in the world of film. And the connections should be obvious.

As a silent acknowledgment of the difficulties and sacrifices made by both space-faring nations in the name of politics,46 along with their intermediary, the British, the Apollo Murmansk operation demonstrates that President Kennedy’s desire for broader cooperation with the Soviet Union in outer space, including cooperation in lunar landing programs was not in vain.

Southwind home
The Odyssey
The Southwind with the lost Apollo module on its way home.

John F. Kennedy might not have expected that cooperation to be covert, and taking place in the eastern Atlantic rather than on the surface of the Moon. But that might be simply because in the eyes of the rocket men, the Apollo storyline must be upheld, against all odds.

So, did the Apollo 13 mission end just minutes after it began, and was that the real Apollo 13 ‘accident’?

Most probably.

Aulis Online, November 2016

Note: Not all the images in this article are optimised for cell phones

This analysis has been challenged here
See also: The April Odyssey and the November Boat: From the Russian Perspective and Was the Command Module too Light?


  1. For data on the dialogue between the USSR and the USA prior to 1970 refer to The Partnership: A History of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. Published as NASA Special Publication-4209 in the NASA History Series, 1978, especially Prologue Paine – Keldych File.
    https://www.hq.nasa.gov/pao/History/SP-4209/toc.htm Also note that as early as April 1959 the US magazine Popular Mechanics [PopMech, August 1959] published an article stating that the USSR was well in advance of the US capabilities when it came to space travel. In a race to the Moon it was fully expected that the Soviets would be there before the US.
  2. The Partnership, as above Ch2 Pt1 National Security memorandum No. 271 from JFK Kennedy undated but contents reveal issued from between September 20 and December 1, 1970. Declassified December 13, 1981. And Dark Moon: Apollo & the Whistle-Blowers, Aulis 1999, Pt2 Ch8 p.311 complete text of letter from Sir Bernard Lovell to David Percy concerning the attitudes of the USSR and the USA towards radiation and manned spaceflight.
  3. The websites of the US Coastguard are remarkably inconsistent in their data supply for this Murmansk event. Sometimes mentioned, sometimes not. And the military surely do release information as and when it suits, however, researchers picking up on scraps of information can also inadvertently mislead both themselves and others, because minds made up are hard to change. Take for example the photo of the module on the quayside published in a Hungarian newspaper on September 8. Despite the Southwind leaving port on the Monday evening, many have concluded that the Murmansk handover occurred on that Tuesday. The presumption being that the details have been confused deliberately. In fact the photo was taken on Sunday 6, the Press Agency released it on September 7, and was published the following day.
  4. Lent to the Soviets from March 29, 1945 to December 28, 1949, the icebreaker USCGC WAG280 (later to be called Southwind) sailed under the name Admiral Makarov.
  5. Idem footnote 1.
  6. Spaceflight & rocketry: A Chronology, David Baker, January 16, 1971. Facts on File Inc. 1996.
  7. This is the home website of the Southwind, separate from the USCGC website.
    http://www.southwind280.com has several pages, route maps & pictures worth checking,
    including http://www.southwind280.com/files/SouthwindSaga.pdf. The account of the Murmansk visit by Helicopter pilot S.E. Goldhammer lists the capsule collection on Sunday evening at 18:00. But the Southwind’s history page makes no mention of the Murmansk collection. This same article also features in http://www.southwind280.com/files/SW_Memories_Book_Updated_1-18-15.pdf.
  8. Operation Deep Freeze 69 features in many locations on the Southwind’s website.
  9. The Cruise Inventory, is an excel document on the Southwind website listing the primary operations (tasks) for each voyage, ports of call etc,. for the United States Coastguard Cutters.
  10. The USCGC states that it is an Armed Force and a member of the intelligence community. And that since 9/11 [December 28 2001] it is the only Armed Force to be attached to the Department of Homeland Security [DHS]. Formerly within the dept. of Transportation. The US Coast guard was incorporated into the DHS on 28 December 2001 [refs USCGC and DHS websites].
  11. This is the official US Coast Guard website https://www.uscg.mil but digging around in the icebreaker section of the US Coast Guard will produce surprisingly different amounts of information about the same subject. Notable is the fact that on one page CAPT. Cassidy is said to have relinquished command of the Southwind to CAPT. William Schwob ‘At some point’ between November 1970 and the Spring of 1971. For an Intel outfit such as the USCGC such vagueness is extraordinary and it infers the wish to avoid any inference that CAPT. Cassidy was CO of the Southwind specifically to oversee the Murmansk handover. Not least because on another page of the same site we have the PDF of Schwob’s distinguished career up to 1977 – and the date he took up the command of the Southwind was May 1971.
  12. US Coast Guard Aviation 1919-1996 Walter & Stephen Goldhammer, https://books.google.co.uk.
  13. The photo published in the Hungarian Press on Sept 8 was sourced by Nandor Schumansky. Having ‘found it in his archive’ he sent it to Mark Wade in 2002, who considered it to be ‘the photo that started it all’ ‘It’ being the current focus of attention on the BP-1227 saga. Wade’s Encyclopedia Astronautica is here:
  14. Photo taken no doubt by one of the Southwind’s aviation crew.
  15. Photo sourced by Tamas Feher from a Hungarian Space Lexicon. Whether he actually took the photo is unknown. The fact that the 1971 book in which it was published comes under the umbrella of the mapping and communication systems of the Hungarian Ministry of Defence is interesting.
  16. Interestingly, the Baltimore Sun of Nov 22, 1970 the map inferring its return straight home, leaves out the UK and Baffin island portion of the Southwind voyage. And majors on the ceremonial aspects of the Murmansk visit while ignoring the collection of the Apollo capsule.
  17. Eddie Pugh has published his very useful account NASA’s Lost Boilerplate – The Story of BP-1227, on Wade’s website [13]. Assembling all the threads of the story to 2015, Pugh has made a very useful contribution to the BP-1227 riddle. He is acknowledged as a data source on the USCGC website. Why they should need data from outside their organisation on this event is a mystery in itself. Although he has also wondered if he isn’t ‘on the wrong side of the Atlantic to be able to unlock the doors that might lead to providing a definitive answer to the circumstances surrounding the loss and recovery of BP-1227.’ Certainly a bit more data mining would have answered some of his own questions but generously, he leaves it to others to sort out the enigma.
    Eddie Pugh NASA’s Lost Boilerplate: the story of BP-1227, Oct 18, 2015.
    Spaceflight vol 58, 04 April 2016 (purchase) ‘this fascinating story’. 69P-145 March 1.
    Mark Wade ex autographica.com March 2002, updated June 2002, 2008, 2015 Eddie Pugh.
    Also boilerplates BP-1220/1228 series. The purpose of this series design was to simulate the physical characteristics of the Apollo command module, including flotation and retrieval characteristics as well as dimensions. The BP was approx. 9000lb compared with the 12,000-13,500lb of an actual CM. Used for both laboratory water tanks and ocean tests. …It may provide homing practice for HC-10 and helicopter aircrews when equipped with a training beacon & flashing light. Section 5-2.
  18. Dark Moon: Apollo & the Whistle-Blowers, Bennett & Percy, Pt1 Ch4 Rocket Rackets, Aulis Publishers 1999. It is well known that relative to Apollo, blueprints for the specifically lunar components – the Saturn V and the Apollo LM have allegedly been ‘lost’ forever. The CM seems to have escaped the cull.
  19. The USS NEW. Photos of boilerplate retrieval provided by sailor Mike Adams,
  20. ENTRIES FROM THE PERSONAL LOG OF RON EPPS, THE NASA REP ON BOARD THE USS ALGOL FOR THE APOLLO 9 MISSION. www.ussalgolaka54.org/linksfiles/NASA%20Rep.doc and for the location of NASA ships in the Atlantic see the map (Fig 1 page 3) of the NASA document.
  21. Dark Moon op cit. PT 2 Ch 6, Truth or Consequences.
  22. Howard Hughes was the owner of Hughes Aircraft Company Glendale, California. An aeronautical and defense contractor the to US DoD Hughes provided the ‘civilian’ cover for this CIA operation but his company had nothing to do with the project.
  23. There are many sources for Project AZORIAN, the raising of the K-129, and it’s worth cross referencing. Since it was under the aegis of the CIA, here it is from the horse’s mouth.
    https://www.cia.gov/about-cia/cia-museum/experience-the-collection/text-version/stories/project-azorian.html or
  24. Three references: https://www.scribd.com/document/46241636/Apollo-Recovery-Ops-Manual. This paper discusses the risks inherent in the space program include the Michael Stoiko evaluation which went worldwide. The Space Congress Proceedings 1966 (3rd) The Challenge of Space Rescue and Recovery in the Space Age (Search, Rescue & Recovery) Emil G Beaudry & John L Vandegrift
    http://commons.erau.edu/space-congress-proceedings. NASA Technical Note NASA TN-D-6847 Apollo Experience Report- Abort Planning. June 1972.
    http://klabs.org/history/apollo_experience_reports/tn d6847_apollo_abort_planning.pdf.
  25. The Apollo 6 test flight [Dark Moon op cit. Rocket Rackets, Pt1 Ch4 p.133] was ‘an unmitigated disaster even by NASA standards’, according to the late Bill Kaysing. [The NASA technical report on this flight contains several pages listing the failures. These have been scanned in such a way as to make them illegible. However it is possible to count 112 separate items. Since the rest of this highly technical document is technically challenging but legible, the inference is that this has been done wittingly. No doubt in order to stop journalists lifting the list as an easy way of indicting NASA without having to actually read and/or understand the technical document.
  26. Imagining the world in a barrel: CORONA and the Clandestine Convergence of the Earth Sciences by John Cloud. Sage Publications http://sss.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/31/2/231.
  27. Clyde Ore IMO: 5076420 and NASA History document specifically references the co-opted rescue’ ship of opportunity’ (SOOP) on p.6 of NASA Technical Note NASA TND-7686 Apollo Experience Report Communications Used During Recovery Operations May 1974.
  28. Boatnerd.com has the data on these ore carriers, and their associations with US and British steel interests. In 1970 the Clyde Ore was associated with Montreal by witnesses to the K-8 event but by 2014 it was being associated with Toronto. Although some of these ore carriers were transferred to Montreal shipping companies and Great Lakes operations, this was after the April 1970 K-8/Apollo module event. Unlike some of her sister ore carriers, Clyde Ore did not end up in Canada. Instead, in 1975, the year the Apollo Soyuz Test Project was finally achieved, she was renamed in Greece as Garden Saturn.
  29. Open registries, or flags of convenience enable lower cost crews, avoid corporation tax and in some cases, international regulations. Of the three available registries, Liberia and the Bahamas are in the Independent Open Registry, wherein the laws of these states apply to ships flying their flag but actually owned by foreigners. The NAVIOS Corp operated successfully from its home office in Nassau from 1955 through to 1980 when economic considerations forced consolidation of all USSC shipping operations to New York. Also See Bulatov & Boyko April Odyssey and the November Boat for these Pentagon statements in the news clippings.
  30. Polaris. Resulting from the Nassau Agreement signed on December 22, 1962 by US President Kennedy and UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan – the numerous parallels to the Clyde Ore carrier story, invites analogy between the four British river named ore carriers, of which Clyde Ore, and their first UK Polaris nuclear ballistic submarine counterparts. These Resolution class submarines came into service in December 1969: Resolution & Repulse; Renown & Revenge,
    and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UK_Polaris_programme.
  31. British Standard Time Act 1968 (1968 c. 45). Was An Act to establish the time for general purposes at one hour in advance of Greenwich mean time throughout the year. Date of Royal Assent: 26th July 1968. The experiment began on 27th October 1968 effectively continuing daylight saving into the winter. When the issue was again debated in the Commons on 2 December 1970, this time the vote for the experiment to be discontinued won by 366 to 81. The effective end of the experiment therefore became 2am Greenwich mean time 31 October 1971. When taken together with the complete volte-face of the Government, The fact that this time period coincided with the Apollo 8 lunar project, and those March 1969 satellite installations on Heard Island and that no one was bothered after December 1970, at the end of the Apollo 13 year, and lasted until the end of the Apollo 13 year, is somewhat suspicious.
    http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1969/feb/05/british-standard-time http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/written_answers/1969/feb/13/british-standard-time
  32. Coincidentally or not, Lord John Bruce Gardyne who features in these British Parliament debates was associated with the Space Race. Prior to becoming a politician he had sent six years in the foreign service and then in the Spring of 1961 he was in Moscow as the Foreign Correspondent with the Financial Times, travelling across the country, he was privy to the confusion surrounding the US/UK/USSR data on the April 1961 Gagarin spaceflight. Dark Moon op cit. Pt2 Ch8 Servants of Circumstance p.297.
  33. Using competition rather than cooperation with the USSR to fund space projects is specifically discussed in the document referred to in footnotes 1&2.
  34. Never A Straight Answer: The reference [10] in this section does not provide any useful information, taking the reader to a NASA chronology which makes only one mention of Dr. Handler, on page 19 and not on page 233 of the referenced work.
  35. Werhner von Braun had established his plan for getting manned spaceflight from Earth to Mars via the moon, in 1953. Dark Moon op cit Pt1 Ch5 p.194.
  36. Dark Moon op cit. Pt2 Ch9 p.345.
  37. Notwithstanding the useful role of Foreign Office staff embedded within national newspapers as foreign correspondents, Ian Fleming, no stranger to that world, when criticized for the overly fantastic narratives in his Bond stories observed ‘I maintain that such criticism comes from people who do simply do not read the newspapers or who have not taken note of the revealing peaks that is the great underwater iceberg that is secret service warfare.’ Sunday Times magazine 1962, Esquire November 1997. Cover magazine Feb 1998.’
  38. The Lockheed HC-130W Hercules was the primary fixed wing rescue aircraft. Rescue & Recovery in the Space Age 1966 p.10 http://commons.erau.edu/spaqce-congress-proceedings.
  39. In 2007 an account of the recovery of BP-1227 by the Russian trawler Apatit. The memoirs of the chief engineer of this vessel – Alexander Andreev – were recorded by author Dmitry Ermolaev and first published in the Murmansk Komsomolskaya Pravda. The same account was republished on 29 November 2014 in the Murmansk Gazette and on 28 February 2015 in the Murmansk Bulletin. Since 2002 witnesses from these ships have been giving interviews in the Russian and Bulgarian media, albeit the information is contradictory and plain wrong in many cases. Bulatov & Boyko footnotes 9 & 10 contain further details, and in 2014 the French magazine Sciences et Vie published an interview with three of the K-8 survivors. Calling it a Soviet tragedy in three acts the dossier is only available for purchase
    Dossier en exclusivité: Naufrage du K8, une tragédie soviétique en 3 actes / purchase 5.95 euro.
    http://www.laboutiquescienceetvie.com/50-idees-recues-sur-la-grande-guerre-1914-2014.html K-8
  40. The Space Treaty Act signed by the USSR/UK/USA on 27 January 1967 effective from 10 October 1967 stipulated the conditions under which hardware and software (the astronauts) were to be dealt with should they crash in other territories than their own. Article V. State Parties to the Treaty shall regard astronauts as envoys of mankind in outer space and shall render to them all possible assistance in the event of accident, distress, or emergency landing on the territory of another State Party or on the high seas. When astronauts make such a landing, they shall be safely and promptly returned to the State of registry of their space vehicle… Article VIII A State Party to the Treaty on whose registry an object launched into outer space is carried shall retain jurisdiction and control over such object, and over any personnel thereof, while in outer space or on a celestial body. Ownership of objects launched into outer space, including objects landed or constructed on a celestial body, and of their component parts, is not affected by their presence in outer space or on a celestial body or by their return to the Earth. Such objects or component parts found beyond the limits of the State Party to the Treaty on whose registry they are carried shall be returned to that State Party, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.
    http://www.state.gov/t/isn/5181.htm. The United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) oversees these treaties and other questions of space jurisdiction
  41. See boilerplate images on the web for rivet comparisons. Also A Field guide to American Spacecraft has a list of the Apollo CMs and boilerplates http://www.americanspacecraft.com.
  42. See Eddie Pugh’s article [17]
  43. https://airandspace.si.edu/collection-objects/boilerplate-command-module-apollo-1102a BP-1102A was constructed of aluminum, with its sidewalls painted with a bronze epoxy paint to simulate the look of a real Apollo CM after splashdown. It was fitted with an actual Command Module hatch. The initial use of BP-1102A was as the water egress trainer for all Apollo flights, including by the crew of Apollo 11, the first lunar landing mission. As such, it was fitted with actual or mock-up interior components and used by astronauts to practice routine and emergency exits from the spacecraft.
    Subsequently, the interior was set up to be configured either as Apollo/Soyuz or a five-man rescue vehicle as once proposed for Skylab so that astronauts could train for those missions. It was finally transferred from NASA to the Smithsonian in 1977 and is displayed now at the Hazy Center with the flotation collar and bags that were attached to Columbia at the end of its historic mission.
  44. A loan which the Smithsonian transferred as title on March 28, 1986, the day before NASA’s next grand plan for space exploration was revealed, Baker op cit.
  45. It was inferred by engineers that the accident was due to pilot error. To kill that assertion, after splashdown, astronaut Wally Schirra manually blew his capsule's hatch. The kickback from the manual trigger injured his hand. Grissom did not have such an injury. The engineers were wrong.
  46. http://www.science20.com/space
    It is clear from the issues facing NASA and other space agencies that the technology is still not in place for safe human space flight beyond low-Earth orbit (LEO), so it follows that it was not present during the time of the so-called Space Race – for either side. Despite this, in August 2016, the Russian Space company Energia announced a new project. At a cost of $150 million per person, and in co-operation with the US-based space tourism company Space Adventures, eight tourists would be sent on a circumlunar trip by 2020. Given that such announcements are a regular part of keeping the dream of crewed space missions alive via funding/publicity mechanisms, that date might not hold. Indeed, Energia says it will wait ‘for a critical mass of confirmed applications’ (i.e. funding) before being able to start any large-scale work (i.e. going beyond media presentations).


Not Seen but Heard: Heard Island is an Australian possession in the sub-Antarctic, SSE of Africa. Sailor Sumrell Jr. provides a vivid description of the difficulties of access and the injuries to the crew encountered during this exercise. The lack of harbours and the year round appalling stormy weather make Heard Island a difficult and unattractive proposition even for Antarctic researchers. The Australian National Antarctic Research Expedition’s station [ANARE] at Atlas Cove, which opened on the island in 1947, had last hosted some nine to fifteen researchers when the facility permanently closed in 1955. And the Australians understood the US expedition in slightly different terms it seems:

Between March 1969 and April 1970 the ANARE station at Atlas Cove was occupied by American scientists involved in the US Coast & Geodetic Survey. The scientists’ objective was to photograph a satellite in orbit, for use in triangulation calculations to determine the shape and size of the Earth and the relative locations of the photographic stations. Unfortunately, poor weather limited the number of photographic opportunities.

Which sounds like utter rubbish, the bad weather would have been known about by all concerned with this project. The Australians, US Geological Survey were totally aware the local conditions, as was the USCGS Southwind.

So, it’s highly interesting that this relatively derelict facility was reactivated by the American army and scientists with the Southwind expedition given, a) the adverse condition, b) the very obvious lack of photo opportunities and c) the extreme measure of adding infrastructure to a facility that had been closed down for the last 14 years. The need for a satellite station/radio tracking station at that location from March 1969 through to April 1970 must have been imperative, inevitably leading one to conclude that the activity at the Atlas Cove facility from mid March 1969 through to mid April 1970 was vital for some aspect of the Apollo program.

The official history of the USCGC Southwind records that after Deep Freeze 69 the ship was awarded a Coast Guard Unit Commendation for Exceptionally meritorious service during the period Nov. 14, 1968 to April 3, 1969 while engaged in Operation Deep Freeze '69 and subsequent operations in support of U.S. military programs and scientific research projects.

On the ship’s cruise inventory in both cases, the port of call Dar-es-Salaam, Murmansk, is listed. Yet the loading of the Apollo capsule is not featured as a primary operation, so we might ask if, the reason for the removal of the gun on Deep Freeze 70, was also for the installation something militarily sensitive on the forward gun emplacement at some point during that voyage.

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